Copy to clipboard


Who are the top 5 property lawyers in New Zealand?

If you want to buy an investment property this year, you need a lawyer to help. Property sales are high-stakes transactions, where many things can go wrong.

Any lawyer can file the paperwork and transfer the money. But a great lawyer will also make sure the contracts you sign don't put you at unnecessary risk. Plus, they’ll check the council documents relating to your property so you know what you’re really buying.

But, how do you tell the difference between a rock star lawyer and one that is more run-of-the-mill? Unless you’ve worked with them before, it's hard to tell.

In this article, you’ll see our top 5 picks for property lawyers in New Zealand who we know are experts in their field.

Do you have a question or comment about the top property lawyers? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section at the end of the page.

#1 – Sue Foley | Landley Law | Christchurch

First up is Sue Foley – owner of Landley Law, based in Christchurch. Sue and her team are often the first pick in terms of a property lawyer.

(Full disclosure, she is also the personal lawyer of Opes Partners’ Managing Director, Andrew Nicol).

"Sue is an absolute rock star. You walk into her office and papers are piled up to the ceiling. But, she is one of the most diligently organised lawyers I've ever met in my life. She doesn’t miss a beat," Andrew says.

Something unique about Sue is that, in some cases, she won’t charge you if you seek her advice on a property that you don’t end up buying.

This is particularly useful for investors who intend to purchase multiple properties.

For example, you might sign the sale and purchase agreements on 3 different properties, seek her advice, and only buy 1 or 2. She'll then only charge you for the ones you actually purchase.

Sue is a hidden gem.

It’s important to note that Landley Law has grown substantially since it was founded in 2008 – which means you may not directly work with Sue.

However, knowing that she has oversight of her 11 team members gives us confidence that you’ll still get diligent service if you work with Landley Law.

Our clients here at Opes often give good feedback about Landley Law. One investor specifically appreciated Paula's assistance on a recent investment property purchase, saying " I just wanted to take a moment to note our massive appreciation and thanks for all the work you have done to support our recent investment property purchase. Your advice is always really thorough, clear, and turned around so quickly! You’re also so easy to get along with, and that builds trust and makes the whole process so much easier too. We’re very grateful for your help and wanted you to know that we think you do an awesome job!".

Sue has been a practising lawyer for over 20 years, being appointed to the High Court in 1997. She is also a property investor herself.

Landley Law are one of the more affordable options on this list.

Property lawyers nz

#2 – Jenny Turner | Wynn Williams | Auckland

Next up is Jenny Turner, partner at Wynn Williams. She’s well known for her New Build expertise and has been a guest on The Property Academy Podcast 3 times. She also frequently writes for NZ Property Investor magazine.

Wynn Williams is a large, full-service law firm, which means it has specialised lawyers to help you deal with anything you might need a lawyer for, including family law, environmental law, dispute resolution, construction, business – and more.

Jenny is part of the team that specialises in property and estate planning.

So, you can ask her about everything to do with property sales, leasing, subdivision and residential property development.

Jenny says if you’re dealing in New Builds it’s absolutely essential to find a lawyer who has experience with turnkey contracts. Generally speaking, her role is to guide her clients from the date the contract is signed until the purchase is settled.

Even seemingly “black and white” contracts often have a lot of flexibility and description buried in the fine print.

Prospective owners need to be aware of all the detail, lest the property be built differently to initial architectural drawings. This is the level of scrutiny you want your lawyer to be across, she says.

The firm has a team of 45, operating out of offices in Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown.

Wynn Williams is a “larger name” law firm and is more expensive than some of the other names on our list. But if you want the comfort of a big name law firm who knows its stuff – these are the guys to go to.

Property lawyers

#3 – Katherine Mexted | Convex Legal | Wellington

Katherine Mexted is the owner and principal of Convex Legal, a boutique Wellington-based law firm.

The business now comprises a team of 6, which has grown since the company started in late 2016.

Convex Legal also has a transparent pricing structure, with property transactions starting from $1300+GST + disbursements.

Hamish, Katherine’s husband, is a chartered accountant and runs Convex Accounting, Convex Legal’s sister company.

Because Convex Legal is co-located with an accounting firm, the team may understand tax law and property accounting better than the average lawyer.

Convex Legal’s offices are based on Willis St, in the heart of Wellington City.

Convex Legal Property Lawyer

#4 – Penny Liu | Liu Legal | Wellington

Liu Legal is a relatively recent addition to the Wellington legal scene, founded in 2019 by Penny Liu.

Penny’s unique in that she is believed to be the only lawyer in Wellington who is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese.

This makes Penny an excellent fit for property buyers from some parts of Asia who prefer to speak in their native language.

Because she speaks several languages, she also routinely works with clients who are based overseas.

Even if English is your first language, that experience may make her the right fit for you if you are a Kiwi who is based overseas, since Penny does this so frequently.

Liu Legal is based on Victoria Street in the heart of Wellington City.

Liu Law Property Lawyer

#5 – Michelle Erasmus | The Conveyancing Shop | Auckland

The Conveyancing Shop is an Auckland-based firm founded in 2005 by Michelle Erasmus and Thada Chapman, specialising in property transactions.

Because this is the type of work they focus on, they conduct more property transactions than many general law firms.

That suggests they have seen a wide variety of property transactions and can still give solid advice, even in unique situations.

Michelle is highly involved with and is the recommended lawyer for the Auckland Property Investors’ Association.

This background working with investors means she understands property investors’ specific needs a little more thoroughly than your average lawyer.

This tight team of 8 has two offices, based out of Botany and Pukekohe.

Conveyancing Shop Legal Property Lawyer

How did these lawyers make the list?

Because we work with hundreds of property investors from around the country each year, we at Opes Partners also get to meet many property lawyers.

Over the last 2 years (since we started counting), we have worked with a total of 691 lawyers on property transactions.

Many are good … others, not so much.

All the property lawyers on this list were chosen because we’ve met them, worked with them, and we can hand-on-heart say we would use them again.

It’s important to note this list is not in order from best to worst. All property lawyers on this list have a reputation for quality and are worth considering.

It contains lawyers from each of New Zealand’s three main cities so you can find someone closest to you. Having said that, your lawyer doesn’t have to be based in the same town for them to guide you through a property transaction.

Which property lawyer should I use?

Having got to the end of this list, you may be wondering "which of these property lawyers should I use?"

The truth is each professional will give you quality advice and will have a team that can diligently file your paperwork. That’s why these firms made this list.

But there are small differences that may make a slightly better fit, depending on your individual situation and what you prefer.

nz property lawyer

For instance, if you are based in Christchurch you may prefer to use Sue Foley from Landley Law or Jenny Turner from Wynn Williams, since they are both based in Christchurch.

If you’re in the North Island and value meeting face-to-face with a lawyer, perhaps another from this list may be the right fit for you.

Similarly, the size of the firm you work with will indicate how much talk-time you’ll get with the property lawyers named on this list.

If that’s important to you, you might prefer a smaller firm. If not, then one of the larger firms will be fine.

What should you look for in a good property lawyer?

Any diligent lawyer can run the administration and conveyancing of your property.

But, if you’re going to be a successful property investor, you are likely to need more than this basic set of skills.

Firstly, you’ll get more value from a property lawyer if they understand complex contracts, like turnkey or build. That means they can pick up on clauses or contracts that potentially put you at a disadvantage.

You’ll also want them to understand tax law, so they can advise you on how best to hold your assets, whether that is in your own name, through a trust or in a look-through company.

Because of that you’ll also want them to have someone on their team who knows more about trust law than the average lawyer so you can protect your assets.

What happens if I don’t use an ‘Opes approved’ lawyer?

Here at Opes, we often hear investors say: “I’ll just use my dad’s lawyer, or the family lawyer …”

And while they may have been an excellent lawyer for that situation, when it comes to property – you need a specialist.

This is especially true when it comes to turnkey and New Build property.

For instance, we recently worked with an investor who decided to work with his friend, who was a lawyer. However, his friend did not specialise in New Build contracts.

This meant his friend spent far more time digging into the contract than someone more familiar with this type of contract would.

In the end, the lawyer raised many questions about standard parts of the contract that have been the same for the last 20 years, which spooked the investor, making them nervous.

But worst of all, the investor got sent a bill for $6,000 – for a property they didn’t progress with.

From our experience, this should cost around $1,000.

So not only did the investor get poor advice (in our view), they also got charged an extra $5,000 for the privilege.

To avoid higher bills, and potential mistakes, investors buying New Builds should err on the side of caution and use an Opes-approved lawyer from this list.

Write your questions or thoughts in the comments section below.

Can Opes Partners help me?

Opes Partners
Laine 3 001

Laine Moger

Journalist and Property Educator with six years of experience, holds a Bachelor of Communication (Honours) from Massey University.

Laine Moger, a seasoned Journalist and Property Educator with six years of experience, holds a Bachelor of Communications (Honours) from Massey University and a Diploma of Journalism from the London School of Journalism. She has been an integral part of the Opes team for two years, crafting content for our website, newsletter, and external columns, as well as contributing to Informed Investor and NZ Property Investor.

View Profile

Related articles