Not many legal specialists get trained to lead teams of people in all kinds of situations, handle weapons and develop problem-solving, adventure and outdoor skills. As a Legal Officer, your career can vary greatly depending on what appointment you hold, but you could find yourself working in areas such as Military law, military and civilian employment law or human rights and privacy law.
- Starting Salary$71,823
About the role
Legal Advisors (LEGADs) in the New Zealand Defence Force work in what could be best described as a ‘Specialised General Practice. As a Military Legal Advisor, your career can vary greatly depending on what appointment you hold, but the principal areas in which you may 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 Advisor will be spent in a tri-service environment. This means that Legal Officers often spend their careers at various defence establishments and your work colleagues can be Army, Navy, Air Force and Civilian.
Career progression and training
Following successful completion of the Junior Officer Common Training Course (JOCT), you will typically be promoted to Sub-Lieutenant and 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. You can expect to be posted to other junior appointments in other Defence Force establishments in the early stages of you career. You will be promoted to Lieutenant upon completion of all relevant courses and necessary time in rank. There may be opportunities for operational deployments around the world, and exchanges with other Military Forces including in the UK, Canada and Australia.
Junior Officer Common Training (JOCT)
(24 weeks) Location: Devonport Naval Base
The objective of JOCT is to provide you with the core skills of military, mariner, and leadership to be an effective Officer in the Navy. The course is completed in two phases of training that train key areas of development.
Phase 1 – Introduction
This phase focuses on ‘followership’ and teamwork. Trainees are instructed in basic service knowledge, discipline, parade, and kit preparation. Physical Training will be conducted at all times throughout training to develop a high level of physical and mental fitness that promotes morale, good health, and good habits. This phase will cover various topics including:
- Physical Fitness
- Service Knowledge
- Service Discipline
- Introduction to the Leadership Development Framework
- Damage Control Training
- Weapons Training
- First Aid
- Basic seamanship training
- Moving to advanced application
Phase 2 – Fit for Sea
The second phase of training will focus on attributes of being in the Navy in preparation for operational service at sea. Trainees will be taught about the roles and responsibilities on board an RNZN ship. Trainees will also spend time ashore conducting academic and leadership training to further develop as a Naval Officer. This phase will cover various topics including:
- Sea survival
- Ship familiarisation
- Leadership training
- Communications skills
- Defence and Strategic Studies
As a junior LEGAD 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.
You can be given the opportunity to develop your advocacy skills by appearing as junior counsel in the Court Martial and the Summary Appeal Court, and may have the opportunity to participate in specialist litigation training.
All LEGAD's are encouraged to undertake additional NZDF courses to enhance their general Service and military skills and therefore their deployability.
Salary and benefits
Careers in the Navy are well-rewarded, as well as being diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, you will see your salary rise accordingly.
All full time members of the NZ Defence Force receive an added portion to their salary known as Military Factor. This additional compensation recognises the unique nature of military service and the commitment you make to serve your country. This can include short notice postings around the country and overseas. You will be directed at times to be continuously alert, undertake arduous and hazardous duties, and be exposed to adverse working environments exclusive to military life. This also includes the exercise of military skills not recognised by market comparisons. The part you play in our Defence Force and your commitment to our country will be financially rewarded.
Free medical and dental
5 weeks annual leave
Access to additional compensation and housing allowances
Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels
Defence discounts at selected stores and services
Fitness and Medical
Period of Service
- Be a minimum of 17 years of age upon entry.
- Be of good character – assessed by study of testimonials and a police record check.
- Be free of any criminal conviction for the previous two years.
- Must pass the Navy swim test, conducted wearing overalls and gym shoes:
- Swim of 50 metres and, on completion,
- Remain afloat unaided by treading water for three minutes.
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 enter 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.
There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the SV security clearance required for this trade. You must be free of any criminal convictions for the previous two years.
There may be a return of service period for this trade.
Please contact our 0800 number or talk to your Candidate Experience Facilitator for more information.