Legal officer

As a Legal Officer, your career can vary greatly depending on what appointment you hold, but the principal areas in which you can practice are:

  • Military law
  • Administrative law
  • Military and civilian employment law
  • The law of armed conflict and other international and domestic law applicable to the operations of the Armed Forces
  • Human rights and privacy law
  • Contract law
  • Resource management law


From time to time you will be required to appear for the Crown in the Court Martial of New Zealand or other courts and tribunals, such as the Summary Appeal Court of New Zealand or a coroner’s inquest. There are periodic opportunities for exchanges with military lawyers in Australia, Canada and the UK, as well as occasional overseas training opportunities in areas such as the law of armed conflict.

The majority of your career as a Legal Officer will be spent in a tri-service environment. This means that Navy Legal Officers often do not spend very much of their careers at Devonport Naval Base and your work colleagues are as likely to be Army and Air Force personnel as Naval personnel.

Following Junior Officer Common Training (JOCT), you will promoted to Sub Lieutenant and be posted to one of the Defence Force’s legal offices for on the job training as a military lawyer. These offices are currently located in Auckland, Waiouru, Palmerston North, Wellington and Burnham. After an initial period, you could normally expect to take up either an established position in the Directorate of Legal Services at Headquarters New Zealand Defence Force, or be posted to a junior appointment in one of the other Defence Force establishments. You will be promoted to Lieutenant upon completion of all relevant courses and necessary time in rank. There will be opportunity for operational deployments around the world, and exchanges with other Navies including in the UK, Canada and Australia.

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.

  • Be a minimum of 17 years of age
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain SV security clearance for this trade
  • Be of good character – assessed by study of testimonials and a police record check
  • Be free of any criminal convictions for the previous two years


In addition to the above pre-joining requirements, to be eligible for entry into the Royal New Zealand Navy as a Legal Officer, you should already hold a Bachelor of Laws Degree. It is an advantage if an applicant has been admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and holds a current practising certificate.

Like all Officers, you must also pass a two day final officer selection board to be accepted for entry into the Navy.

Have completed an LLB degree, completed registration with the New Zealand Law Society and have two year relevant experience within a law practice.

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

Upon successful enlistment into the Navy  you’ll complete a five day induction course at Devonport Naval Base before you start the seven week Joint Officer Induction Course (JOIC) at RNZAF Base – Woodbourne. Once you march out of the JOIC you continue with the remaining 15 weeks of Junior Officer Common Training course (JOCT), which is back at the Devonport Naval Base. You will be exposed to various subjects and find out if you’ve got what it takes to be an officer in the Navy!

All NZ Defence Force (NZDF) Officer Cadets and Midshipman are required to complete this course which is designed to introduce the basic individual military skills required to continue on to your respective service Officer training courses. The course will give you a basic level of military skills including field-craft, weapon handling, navigation, drill, sea survival, battle-craft, seamanship, communications and an introduction to leadership. It is during JOIC that you will be introduced to the standards and discipline demanded of all members of the NZDF and the ethos and values required to be an Officer in the NZDF.

 

The following are just some of the subject areas covered on JOCT:

  • RNZN customs
  • Drill and parades
  • Military law
  • Weapons training
  • Basic mariner training
  • Defence and strategic studies
  • Communication skills
  • Command, leadership and management


All NZ Defence Force (NZDF) Officer Cadets and Midshipman are required to complete this course which is designed to introduce the basic individual military skills required to continue on to your respective service Officer training courses. The course will give you a basic level of military skills including field-craft, weapon handling, navigation, drill, sea survival, battle-craft, seamanship, communications and an introduction to leadership. It is during JOIC that you will be introduced to the standards and discipline demanded of all members of the NZDF and the ethos and values required to be an Officer in the NZDF.


Upon successful completion of the JOIC, you will be posted to Officer Training School, Devonport to complete the JOCT Course. The JOCT course is 22 weeks in duration (which includes the 7 weeks JOIC) split over three phases:


PHASE ONE – NAVY INDUCTION

Trainees are instructed in basic service knowledge, discipline, parade and kit preparation. There is a focus on ‘followership’ and teamwork and on developing a high level of physical and mental fitness.

The aim of this phase is:

  • To ensure that trainees can perform as effective team members
  • To instil the Navy Core Values
  • To develop the competency behaviours required of a Junior Officer
  • To provide the basic skills and knowledge for service in the Navy

PHASE TWO – SEA QUALIFICATION AND ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT

Phase two is focused on fitness for sea and academic development. The training provides trainees with the minimum knowledge and skills necessary to safely post to sea on a Navy Ship. The Sea Qualification Deployment is designed to give trainees an insight into life at sea and for staff to assess trainees in the sea going environment.

The aim is to:

  • Cement and build upon communal living skills
  • Gain an appreciation of the roles at sea
  • Confirm the trainees commitment to life at sea

Phase two also focuses on academic development. Trainees are lectured in Defence Communication topics such as service writing and oral communication. Officers are expected to have an understanding of wider national and defence policies, international relations and maritime doctrine.


PHASE THREE – LEADERSHIP

The final phase of JOCT has a strong leadership focus covering both theoretical and practical aspects. The trainees are put through a number of assessments. The assessments are scenario driven and provide the trainees with the opportunity to display their individual and combined skills.