Not many legal specialists get trained to lead teams of people in all kinds of situations, handle weapons and develop problem-solving skills. As a Reserve Legal Officer, you could find yourself working in areas such as military law, military and civilian employment law, or human rights and privacy law.
- SpecialisationNaval Reserve
- LocationAuckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin
- Starting Salary$251.17 Daily Rate
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 LEGAD, your career can vary greatly depending on your tasking, but the principal areas in which you may practise 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
As a Reserve Legal Officer, you may provide legal advice to all levels of command. That advice may encompass a range of topics, including disciplinary matters, military justice procedure, Service Police investigations, Courts of Inquiry, command investigations, the law of armed conflict and rules of engagement, compliance with applicable civil law, civilian employment disputes, complaints, and contracts. Reserve Legal Officers may also advise on, and assist with, the formulation of policy, and provide legal training and education.
From time to time, and depending upon your experience, you may 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.
The majority of your career as a LEGAD will be spent in a tri-service environment. This means that Reserve Legal Officers may serve at various defence establishments, and your work colleagues can be Navy, Army, Air Force and civilian. You may also have the opportunity to serve overseas, on exercise or on deployment.
Career progression and training
Basic Training - JOCT
Job Training - Legal Officer
During your first 11 months in the Navy, you will be taught core military, mariner and leadership skills in order to be an effective officer in the Navy.
Basic Training - Junior Officer Common Training: This initial training is known as Junior Officer Common Training (JOCT) and begins with nine days at Devonport Naval Base and the Tamaki Leadership Centre in Whangaparaoa.
Job Training: Specialist training as a Legal Officer is provided as appropriate on an ongoing basis, most of which is conducted in-house.
On-going career progression: Following successful completion of JOCT, you will typically be promoted to Sub-Lieutenant and begin familiarisation with Defence Legal Services in Auckland, Waiouru, Palmerston North, Wellington or Burnham. Additionally, your hard work, experience and training accomplishments as a Legal Officer are rewarded by promotions in rank and salary.
Course dates will be advised by your Candidate Engagement Facilitator as part of your recruitment journey.
Reservists who have not previously served in the Regular Force (ab initio Reservists) commit to a minimum cumulative total of 20 days’ service each year for professional development and operational delivery. This is made up of a minimum of 14 days of full-time training, exercises, operational activity and/or supplementation to the Regular Force plus weeknight and weekend training. An additional 20 days is available for supplementary activities that benefit both individual Reservists and the NZDF.
Weekend training may also include Friday evenings. Longer exercises are conducted over periods ranging from four to 14 days. Naval Reservists receive a daily rate of pay, commensurate with their rank and experience, and this encompasses travel time required to attend training.
During your first 11 months in the Navy, you will be taught core military, mariner and leadership skills in order to be an effective officer in the Navy. This initial training is known as Junior Officer Common Training (JOCT) and begins with nine days at Devonport Naval Base and the Tamaki Leadership Centre in Whangaparaoa. JOCT continues once you return to your home unit, with weekend training once a month, one evening of training each week, and self-study. You will also complete another week of full-time training in August and again in November, focusing on leadership skills.
Reserve officers receive the same initial training as their Regular Force counterparts. This includes parade training (drill), an introduction to the laws of armed conflict, first aid, naval customs and ceremonies, communications, an introduction to damage control, and small arms.
Upon the successful completion of JOCT, you will typically be promoted from Midshipman to Sub-Lieutenant and begin your familiarisation with Defence Legal Services.
Specialist training is provided as appropriate on an ongoing basis, most of which is conducted in-house.
You can also be given the opportunity to develop your advocacy experience by appearing as counsel in the Court Martial and the Summary Appeal Court.
All LEGADs are encouraged to undertake additional NZDF courses to enhance their general Service and military skills and therefore their deployability.
Following successful completion of JOCT, you will typically be promoted to Sub-Lieutenant and begin familiarisation with Defence Legal Services in Auckland, Waiouru, Palmerston North, Wellington or Burnham.
It is a requirement for all promotions that you be medically and physically fit. You will be eligible for promotion to Lieutenant once you have obtained three years of seniority as a Sub-Lieutenant, have your Commanding Officer’s recommendation, and have completed three courses alongside your Regular Force counterparts: the Lead Leaders course (five days), the Divisional Management Course (two weeks), and the Incident Managers Damage Control course (five days).
Promotion to Lieutenant Commander and above is based on merit. Promotion to Lieutenant Commander requires the completion of the Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Joint) or an equivalent international course. Promotion to Lieutenant Commander and Commander is also subject to minimum lengths of service and seniority in rank.
As a Reservist you are paid on an hourly rate rather than a salary. Pay rates depend on the role you are in and your rank; your pay will increase as you move up through the ranks.
As a Reserve Legal Officer, the minimum remuneration you will be paid from day one is a daily rate of $251.17 including KiwiSaver and holiday pay. You are paid for each hour you work, up to a maximum of eight hours’ pay per day. Your remuneration will continue to increase on promotion and with the gaining of seniority.
Fitness and Medical
- Be a minimum of 17 years of age upon entry.
- Be free of any criminal convictions.
- Be of good character - assessed by a study of testimonials and a police record check.
- Good understanding of criminal justice and procedure, alongside public law.
- 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
- Have completed an LLB degree, preferably with a B+ minimum average.
- Been admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court and hold a New Zealand Law Society Practising Certificate.
- Have at least two years of relevant, post-qualification experience.
- You must be medically fit for service.
- You must meet the minimum entry fitness standards.
- 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.