A quick chat with...Amanda Frank, Law Reform Adviser, New Zealand Law Society
What do you do?
I am a Law Reform Adviser working at the New Zealand Law Society. The Law Society is a well-established commentator on law reform issues, on behalf of the legal profession and in the public interest. We have a statutory mandate to assist in law reform and the administration of justice, and uphold the rule of law. I work as part of a small in-house legal team supporting a vast range of specialist committees made up of volunteer lawyers ranging from criminal and legal services to employment and rule of law. We make a range of submissions on bills referred to select committee and various other consultations including significant Law Commission work, and matters affecting day to day practice in the legal profession.
What do you like most about your job?
I love the challenging and diverse range of issues that I deal with – no two days are ever the same! I’m working on issues in the criminal context, legal aid, youth justice, employment, human rights, environmental and immigration, many of which I haven’t previously dealt with before in my career. I work with lawyers from all around the country who are extremely dedicated both to their day to day work but also to ensure the Law Society has a voice in law reform. I also have close liaisons with various government bodies, the judiciary and other professional bodies.
What is a career highlight so far?
It’s hard to pick just one! One of the main highlights for me is the influence we can have on decision makers and the positive changes we see as a result of the work we do.
What are some challenges or issues that you face in your role?
We often have to work under significant pressure and towards tight deadlines. Bearing in mind our volunteers are busy practitioners in their own right, we often have to produce high quality work at short notice to ensure we keep our seat at the table (so to speak).
What are some fallacies that you have heard about law reform work? What’s your response?
Perhaps the biggest one is that you may not do “real legal work”. In my time at the Law Society we have made significant contributions to a range of issues that have resulted in positive changes either by government bodies or by recognition at Select Committees. Our law reform work is vital to upholding the rule of law, raising bill of rights issues and ensuring the profession views, and what’s in the public interest, are represented in workable legislation.
What are your hobbies?
I love anything water related – swimming, diving, water-skiing (although I haven’t skied for several years!). I also love cooking and have recently got into yoga. I love spending time with family and friends and as I’m about to go on parental leave I can’t wait for my new hobby in 2019 – a baby!
Anything else that you would like to add?
Give law reform work a go!