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Stepping Up - foundation for practising on own account 2023

Stepping Up - foundation for practising on own account 2023
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All lawyers wishing to practise on their own account, whether alone or in partnership or in an incorporated practice, and some in-house counsel, will be required to complete the course. To complete Stepping Up you must do approximately 50 hours of self-directed distance learning and workshop preparation and then attend a two and a half day workshop. Please note that before you attend the workshop you must sign an undertaking that you have completed all the distance learning and preparatory work. There are five courses offered in 2023. However, there is no guarantee of acceptance to any particular course as maximum numbers apply to each session.

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Stepping Up - due diligence

Stepping Up is the first step in qualifying to practise on your own account. After the course, you will need to apply to NZLS for approval and meet the application criteria. The NZLS website explains the application process and criteria, see Practising on own account as a barrister and solicitor and Starting practice as a barrister.

Many graduates of Stepping Up wish they had considered the implications of practising on own account, before they did Stepping Up. We’ve got something to help you with that – our own series of videos called So you are thinking of practising on own account? There is also a free recording and book about Practising on own account available.

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Topping Up Stepping Up

Topping Up Stepping Up is a revision course for practitioners who have previously completed Stepping Up satisfactorily, but who have not commenced practice on their own account within the required two years of the expiry date. More information

Completing the course

The course will comprise:

  • Modular, self-directed, distance-learning tasks
  • Preparation work for the two-and-a-half day workshop
  • An undertaking
  • Attendance at the two-and-a-half day workshop
  • Some assessment.

The learning modules include background information, examples, practice exercises and questions, and preparatory work for the workshop. You must work through each module at your own pace – read, and then answer questions and/or carry out practice exercises as required. As a guide, we estimate that all pre-course work will take about 50 hours.

All your written work for each module must be handed in to the course manager before the course begins.

The course will include modules on

Business planning

  • The key choices owners must make regarding business models, practice structure and business planning
  • How to develop a business plan.


  • Why a professional services practice is different
  • How to develop a plan to grow your firm/practice.

The people dimension

  • Recruiting the right people
  • Motivating and retaining staff
  • Delegating, supervising and managing staff
  • Handling stress.

Financial management

  • Profit drivers and profitability
  • Cash flow, lock-up, WIP, debtors and related billing matters
  • Cost of production
  • Key financial concepts and key tax concepts.

Managing the business

  • Appropriate systems and procedures
  • Physical assets.

Professional conduct

  • Complying with the Act, Regulations and Rules of Conduct and Client Care
  • Dealing with clients, other members of the profession, and members of the public
  • Conflicts of interest, trust-based issues and undertakings.

Managing client’s instructions

  • Managing your relationships with your clients
  • Pricing.

Risk management

  • The concepts and process of risk management
  • Identifying the risks and how to minimise them
  • The professional indemnity disclosure requirement and common PI insurance issues.

Managing clients’ funds

  • The fundamentals of trust accounting
  • Responsibilities of partners who are not Trust Account Supervisors
  • Detecting and dealing with fraud.

NOTE: In the background booklet there is a chapter on how to manage the practical aspects of running an office, for example managing the physical assets, client files, administration systems and technology.

There will be concurrent workshop sessions according to the candidate’s intended career path:

  • Barrister sole
  • Sole practitioner or partner/ director in a two-partner firm
  • Partner/director in a firm of three or more partners.

Learning objectives

Stepping Up is a major building block in the New Zealand Law Society’s competence and professional development programme.
You will:

  • Be better able to run the business of a law practice.
  • Be qualified to assume responsibility for the obligations of the practice.
  • Understand and be able to more confidently apply the relevant Rules of Conduct and Client Care.
  • Understand the principles and rules of trust accounting.

Those lawyers who wish to practise on their own and run a trust account will also have to complete the Trust Account Supervisors’ course.


The booklet and the workfolder will be couriered to registrants. These materials will be available approximately three months before each workshop begins.


Before participants attend the workshop, they must sign and hand to the course manager a declaration that they have completed all background reading and pre-course work to the required standard.

Disclosure of information

Stepping Up candidates for practice on own account will be required to give NZLS CLE and the Course Director written authority to disclose to the New Zealand Law Society and NZLS CLE anything they consider relevant to the candidate’s application to practise on own account.


The course assessment will be based on:

  • All prescribed work being completed, including a written report of a trust account.
  • Active participation in all workshop sessions.

In the event of failure of any assessed part of the course, there is a process for reassessment.

Applying to practise on your own account

Stepping Up is a compulsory prerequisite for lawyers applying to be barristers sole.
Stepping Up is the first step in the process towards qualifying to practise on your own account. If you do not commence practice on own account within two years from the date you completed Stepping Up, the qualification lapses. When you intend to practise on your own account you should make a formal application to your local NZLS branch. The relevant information is available on the NZLS website.

The process of application to practise on own account takes six to eight weeks. This is to allow time for your name to be advertised to the profession, for you to attend an interview (if required) and for reference checks to be made.

Course Director

  • Niamh McMahon, McMahon Butterworth Thompson, Auckland 


  • Kathryn Dalziel, Walker Street Chambers, Christchurch
  • Kavita Deobhakta, Morgan Coakle, Auckland
  • Kirsten Hodgson, KScope Marketing, Auckland
  • Emily Morrow, Executive Consultant, Auckland
  • Ronwyn North, Managing Director, Streeton Consulting, Sydney
  • Dr Neil Oakes, FMRC Pty Ltd, Australia
  • Kane Smith, NZLS Inspector, Christchurch
  • Philip Strang, NZLS Inspector, Christchurch
  • Local practitioners will be guests in the concurrent workshops. Note: NZLS CLE may change the presenters as circumstances require.

Pre-course work and undertaking

Observation Report


  • Day one - 8.45am - 6.00pm
  • Day two - 8.30am - 6.00pm
  • Day three - 8.15am - 12.00pm

Fee (incl GST)

Fee includes materials (booklet and workfolder), and catering on the two-and-a-half days. Accommodation is not included.


  • Course Fee: $1,740
  • Reassessment of any part: $110
  • Reconsideration of any part: $65

Do you want to register more than one person for this course? Use Multiple Registration button below or contact us

Download PDF brochure and registration form

2023 dates 

Auckland 1 9 - 11 March 2023
Christchurch 11 - 13 May 2023
Live Online 20 - 22 July 2023
Wellington 21 - 23 September 2023
Auckland 2 23 - 25 November 2023 


2024 dates 

Registrations open! View info
Auckland 1 7 - 9 March 2024
Christchurch 16 - 18 May 2024
Live Online 25 - 27 July 2024
Wellington 19 - 21 September 2024
Auckland 2 21 - 23 November 2024

Cancellation and Refund policy

This workshop has a ‘No transfer policy’. Therefore, if you are unable to attend the workshop you must cancel your registration. If you cancel your registration at least 15 working days before the workshop begins, you will receive a refund of $1,100. No refunds will be given for any cancellations made less than 15 working days prior to the course.

Development funded by:

The Law Foundation Logo
freephone (within NZ)
0800 333 111

[email protected]

04 472 7837
Level 4, 17-21 Whitmore Street
Wellington 6011

DX SP 20202
PO Box 5041
Wellington 6140
New Zealand