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What is a Legal Executive?

23 August 2017

A Legal Executive is a person who works as a trained assistant to a lawyer in a legal environment and belongs to the New Zealand Institute of Legal Executives. A Registered Legal Executive is one who is registered with the Institute and is a member of the Institute.

What qualifications are required?

To become a qualified Legal Executive you must complete a course of study towards a Legal Executive Diploma (formerly called a Legal Executive Certificate). The course is operated through the Open Polytechnic and students must complete 6 papers covering aspects of the law which are normally dealt with in a legal office.

A Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives is a senior Registered Legal Executive who is authorised by law to witness Statutory Declarations and Enduring Powers of Attorney.

Preston Russell Law employs 5 Registered Legal Executives, 3 of whom are Fellows of the Institute. We also currently have some employees who are completing their study requirements to become Legal Executives.

What do they need to know?

Legal Executives are required to be honest, reliable, trustworthy, and willing to observe all the rules and ethics of the legal profession. They need to have a good:

1. Knowledge of legislation and regulations

2. Understanding of legal terms and methods

3. Knowledge of how to prepare legal documents

4. Legal research skills

What areas of law do they work in?

Legal Executives can be employed in a number of different areas of the law and their skills can cover a wide range of activities. At Preston Russell, Legal Executives may do some or all of the following:

1. Assist clients buying, selling and developing property

2. Administer estates, trusts and prepare wills

3. Administer and help with the legal aspects of running a company

4. Assist clients with business transactions

5. Assist clients with debt collection

6. Prepare, analyse and interpret a variety of legal documents

7. Prepare and file court documents

8. Help prepare Court cases, but a Legal Executive cannot appear in Court.

Further education and training

Legal Executives are required to complete at least 10 hours of Continuing Legal Education each year and this is achieved by attending seminars and now due to technology, webinars, on topics which keep the Legal Executives up to date on changes to the law which most affect the areas of law they work in.

The New Zealand Law Society together with the New Zealand Institute of Legal Executives hold a Legal Executives Conference bi-annually. This year the Conference was held at Te Papa in Wellington on the 14th and 15th of August and four Legal Executives from Preston Russell Law attended. Not only does this Conference refresh and update areas of law for Legal Executives, it is a good opportunity to network and put faces to names of Legal Executives from around the country that we deal with on a day to day basis during a transaction.

This year’s topics for the Conference focused on “Where is the risk?” and covered transactions from preparing a Will for a client to making sure the title for the property your client is buying is correct. The attendees from Preston Russell thoroughly enjoyed the Conference and came back full of enthusiasm to pass on the things they had learned over the 2 days.