The New Zealand Law Society's 16 new law reform committees are a wonderful blend of youth and experience, Law Society President Kathryn Beck says.
The Law Society recently decided on the membership of its law reform committees for the next two years from September 2017, bringing together the skills and expertise of 136 people as well as input from the Family Law Section and Property Law Section.
Ms Beck says this brings a lot of firepower to ensuring the Law Society continues to be one of the major participants in New Zealand law reform.
"The committee members are all giving their time and expertise on a voluntary basis. On behalf of the legal profession I'd like to say how much this is valued and appreciated," she says, writing in the latest issue of the Law Society magazine LawTalk.
"Our committee members are Queen's Counsel, barristers sole, in-house lawyers, academics, sole practitioners, lawyers in small firms, lawyers in medium firms, and lawyers in large firms. They are directors, partners and employees and they live and work in locations all around New Zealand."
Ms Beck says it is a matter of the utmost importance to the Law Society that 43% of the law reform committee members are women.
"Seven of the 16 convenors are women. This is a major increase from the membership of the 2015/17 committees. It is reflective of the fact that at 10 October New Zealand had 6362 practising female lawyers and 6454 male lawyers - basically identical numbers.
"With equality of numbers, why should there not be equality of input and involvement in all things lawyers do - including reform of the law. We have stated our commitment to ensuring gender diversity and opportunity. It is exciting that this is now happening in an area which will benefit all New Zealanders."
Law reform involvement
One of the core statutory functions of the Law Society is to “assist and promote, for the purpose of upholding the rule of law and facilitating the administration of justice in New Zealand, the reform of the law”.
To achieve this the Law Society relies on the hard work and commitment of its committee members who volunteer their time and expertise for the benefit of the profession and the wider community. As a result, the Law Society has a reputation for making an impartial, and considered and valued contribution to law reform, the administration of justice and the rule of law.
The Law Society makes submissions on many bills referred to select committee and on discussion papers from government agencies and the Law Commission. It also maintains open communication with the government on administration of justice and rule of law issues.
The Law Society's Law Reform Committee, with assistance from the specialist committees and the Sections, prepares submissions on behalf of the legal profession and in the public interest. These can be found on the Law Society website law reform submissions page.
Committee membership 2017 to 2019
Details of the 16 law reform committees and their membership can be found here.