Legal Advisor

Group: Officer
Job Availability: Full Time

The Role

Legal Advisors (LEGADs) in the New Zealand Army work in what could be best described as a “Specialised General Practice”.

Main Areas of Law

There are four main areas of Law:

Operational Law

This includes aspects of international law and international humanitarian law, including laws of armed conflict (LOAC) and rules of engagement.

Personnel Law

Interpreting and advising on the policy and law in relation to personnel within the three Services.

Administrative Law

Constitutional law, statutory reform and judicial review.

Military Justice

LEGADs advise commanders at all levels as to the enforcement of military discipline.

Job on Camp

You will serve initially at Headquarters, New Zealand Defence Force, Wellington, as part of the Directorate of Legal Services performing general in-house counsel duties. The Directorate is required to provide advice to the Chief of Defence Force, single Service Chiefs of Staff and other military and civil members of the New Zealand Defence Force.

Your advice may be sought of a wide range of subjects:

  • Proposed legislative changes
  • The assessment of legislation that may impact on the activities or resources of the New Zealand Defence Force
  • The Armed Forces’ disciplinary system
  • Administration of Armed Forces law
  • Commercial and contractual matters
  • Employment matters
  • International agreements and arrangements affecting the Armed Forces
  • Administrative acts or omissions
  • Armed Forces operations

There is an emphasis in the duties of an LEGAD on Armed Forces and criminal law. In these areas, advice may be required on:

  • The constitution, command and organisation of the three Services
  • Framing charges and other pre-trial aspects
  • Prosecution before the Court Martial of New Zealand
  • Armed Forces legal aid and post-trial matters including appeals
  • Terms of reference of courts of inquiry, their legality and whether the evidence recorded discloses the commission of offences
  • International law, principally the laws of armed conflict, law of the sea, air law and status of forces, and rules of engagement

LEGADs may also be called upon to provide legal advice in respect of complaints by members of the Armed Forces and the executive and administrative acts affecting the conditions of service of members of the Armed Forces.

Officers of the Directorate of Legal Services may be required to prosecute from time to time at the Court Martial of New Zealand, appear on behalf of the Chief of Defence Force in the Court Martial Appeal Court, formulate and implement policy on legal matters and assist with training the Armed Forces in Armed Forces law.

Job on Deployment

LEGADs may deploy in a variety of roles, including as an advisor to a New Zealand commander for a specific mission, or as part of an international headquarters, such as ISAF.  LEGADs are expected to be able to prepare and advise their commanders on all relevant legal matters that may arise during the deployment including, but not limited to:

  • Law of Armed Conflict
  • Discipline issues
  • Law of the Sea
  • UN mandate
  • Rules of Engagement
  • Targeting
  • Prohibited use of weapons and ammunition
  • Detainee handling

Career Progression

You will be employed initially at Headquarters, New Zealand Defence Force, Wellington, as part of the Directorate of Legal Services. At the rank of Lieutenant you will be required to attend the Junior Command Course, the Intermediate Command Course and complete distance education packages as part of the Junior Staff Officers’ (JSO) Course. Upon successful completion of the JSO course, two years satisfactory service as a Lieutenant, and command approval, you may be promoted to the rank of Captain.

Pay & Benefit Details

Your initial remuneration will be based on previous experience and skill level. This is negotiated on a case by case basis. As your career continues, remuneration will increase on promotion and seniority.

General Requirements

  • You must be at least 17 years of age.
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain SV security clearance for this trade.
  • You must be free of any criminal convictions.
  • Have some form of post-admission experience (preferably two years) within a civilian law firm.
  • Have a good understanding of criminal justice and procedure – knowledge of public law would be expected.
  • Show attention to detail, a high standard of written work, good analytical skills and the ability to present and teach on legal matters.
  • Display leadership potential.

Educational Requirements

You must have obtained an LLB with a B+ average.

It is preferable for LEGAD’s to have some form of post admission experience (preferably two years) within a civilian law firm.

A good understanding of criminal justice and procedure, and public law would be expected.

LEGAD's advise commanders on legalities of intended courses of action and management of areas of risk. So potential LEGAD's need to have the following:

  • Attention to detail.
  • High standard of written work.
  • Good analytical skills.
  • The ability to present and teach on legal matters.

Fitness Requirements

  • You must be medically fit for service.
  • Colour perception restrictions may apply.

Period of Service

If you are required to attend a Professional Legal Studies course, for the purpose of obtaining admission as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court, you will incur a return of service for two years upon completion.


Basic Training


Upon successful enlistment into the Army you will be posted to Waiouru Army base. Here you will do a six week specialist officer military training course to teach you the basics of being in the Army. The course is designed to assist you in your integration into the Army and although it is challenging, it’s specifically catered for specialist officers. You will be taught the basics including:

  •     Navigation
  •     Weapon handling
  •     Leadership
  •     Drill and barrack routine
  •     Living in the field
  •     Army Ethos and Values

Job Training

As a junior LEGAD you will complete an intensive university-level course in military law. Other specialist training is provided as appropriate on an ongoing basis, most of which is conducted in-house. Throughout your career you will have the opportunity to attend specific military law courses and exercises within New Zealand and overseas.  You will be encouraged to pursue relevant postgraduate study opportunities, particularly towards the LLM degree, through the various study schemes offered by the NZ Army.

You will be given the opportunity to develop your advocacy skills by appearing as junior counsel in the Court Martial and the Summary Appeal Court.

You will also participate in the NZDF litigation skills programme, which mirrors that run by the New Zealand Law Society, with instruction from specialist litigators.

Ongoing Training

All LEGAD's are encouraged to undertake additional NZDF courses to enhance their general Army and military skills and therefore their deployability.

Location Details

LEGADS are required to serve across all Services.  Accordingly, although you may wear an Army uniform you may be expected to either complete a Tour of Duty or a posting on a Royal New Zealand Air Force Base or aboard a Royal New Zealand Navy Ship or Base. Postings are generally 2-3 years long.

LEGADS should not expect to remain in the same location for the entirety of their careers.