Criminal lawyers are being urged not to take industrial action in protest at changes to the legal aid system.

Legal aid lawyers are threatening the action as more of their contract work is set to go to salaried staff of the Public Defence Service.

New Zealand Law Society president Jonathan Temm understands the concerns expressed, but says strike action or 'work-to-rule' is inappropriate.

"All of these lawyers are independent contractors," he told Newstalk ZB. "They are not employees and the possibility of a strike or anything like that simply doesn't exist, it's not a lawful option that's available to lawyers who undertake the aid work."

Jonathan Temm says the New Zealand Law Society will continue to work to try lessen the impact of the changes.

- Newstalk ZB