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Ten Questions: Craig Tuck

03 May 2016

Craig Tuck is a senior barrister involved in all areas of criminal practice. He is founder and Head of Law Aid International Chambers. He was admitted to the bar in 1996.

Craig has always had a passion for international criminal law work having been involved in criminal justice since 1985. In addition to his legal qualifications, he has two Masters Degrees including a Master of Philosophy from the Law Faculty of Cambridge University where he studied Criminology. He is a member of the Criminal Bar Association and the New Zealand Bar Association.

Photo of Craig Tuck
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Craig has private and legal aid clients, but is mainly briefed for serious violence, fraud and drug offending, including related proceeds of crime applications. He has appeared in some of New Zealand's highest profile cases acting for entertainers and sports people as well as people charged with the most serious of crimes.

Craig undertakes a wide variety of pro bono work in international human rights cases and advocacy. He is founder of Slave Free Seas (slavefreeseas.org) and leads an international legal team fighting the business of modern slavery.

Why did you choose law as a career?

The conscious choice came when I was studying psychological criminology at the law faculty of Cambridge University – part of the Masters programme required that we completed some law papers. My background was in psychology – within a few weeks of studying law I was hooked – I was 32 at that time.

I particularly liked the practical application of law to virtually every aspect of our lives – the structure of arguments and decisions – beautiful stuff.

Do you still feel that way?

More so. Recently I see the impact that lawyers can have on the global stage of human rights work. There is a difference to be made.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying law?

Think it through to the end game - talk to as many people as you can. See what the lawyer actually does and how they spend their days. Perhaps courtrooms and police cells are not for you but policy analysis is.

The practice of law is wide and varied. For instance, I read Sir Geoffrey Palmers wonderful answers to Ten Questions. His experience is so different to mine. I know the smell of nervous prisoners, the energy in tired courtrooms, the games of security services and tactics of foreign police. Arriving as part of a Government official team is one thing – but arriving as a lone barrister to be greeted by police and security services who view you as part of your client "Lawyering Up" is another. All different roles and parts in the same legal machinery.

What is the one thing that has given you the most satisfaction in your career?

The art of forming an argument, walking into a courtroom with an idea and approach then making something happen.

Gratitude for the opportunity and a sense of privilege is connected to that. 

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a lawyer?

Jurisdictions with a weak rule of law–  facing off against unbridled arbitrary decision making, where as an advocate, you must stand your ground which leads to at times frightening (and creative) story telling by those in power against those without it.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing New Zealand lawyers?

Losing the sense of history and relationship within the profession in pursuit of a business model that is unaligned with the principles and purposes of the legal profession. Don't get me started - I am a big Noam Chomsky fan on this point.

What do you enjoy doing outside lawyering?

Barefoot walking, yoga, all sliding sports (surfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding), reading and time with my partner and children and grandchildren. 

What music do you listen to?

Pandora radio - 2 years developing a Ben Howard radio station 

What are you reading at the moment?

The Transparency of Things by Rupert Spira. An insight to the nature of experience.

The best movie and TV shows I've seen?

I don't do TV - we have not owned one for many years and have no plans to get one.

I enjoy virtually all kiwi movies - especially the old ones - they always seem to have an insight into our culture.

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Last updated on the 4th May 2016