The Crown Law Office significantly exceeded the New Zealand Law Society's equitable briefing target in the year to 30 June 2019, Solicitor-General Una Jagose QC says.
In her overview in Crown Law's annual report for the 2018/19 year, Ms Jagose says 44% of its externally briefed legal files in 2018/19 went to female counsel.
The New Zealand Law Society and New Zealand Bar Association launched the Gender Equitable Engagement and Instruction Policy on 5 December 2017. It requires lawyers and their clients to commit to increasing the proportion of women lawyers leading court proceedings and other contentious matters.
Crown Law was one of 26 clients, law firms and law organisations which adopted the policy at its launch. There are now 47 policy adopters.
Ms Jagose says Crown Law's overall gender pay gap has reduced from 31.5% to 25.3% as at 30 June 2019.
"The wider context for this is important – detailed data shows that there are no significant gaps between the pay of men and women in the same role. Nonetheless, we will continue to focus on how we can improve in this area and have identified specific actions we will take," she says.
Over the year to 30 June 2019, Crown Law continued to strengthen its commitment to collaboration across its broader networks, Ms Jagose says, including identifying opportunities to leverage wider benefits from its work wherever possible.
"Within Crown Law, this year we have carried out a successful pilot of a new model for providing strategic legal advice on issues of Crown-wide importance. We now plan to implement this model on a 2-year fixed term basis as part of a new System Leadership Group within Crown Law," she says.
"Another milestone this year has been the conclusion of our legal support project. At the end of this reporting year, we concluded that our people and the work they do will be best served by a new model for what we will now call operational services. This will be implemented over the rest of 2019."
She notes that 2018/19 marked the completion of Crown Law's work on the new Solicitor-General’s Guidelines for Prosecuting Sexual Violence, which took effect from 1 July 2019.
"These best-practice guidelines apply to all prosecutions for sexual violence offences and we hope will help to improve, in particular, the experience of victims and witnesses involved in such cases. We have worked with other agencies to ensure that we have the right funding in place for Crown prosecutions and that the impact of changes made elsewhere in government is taken into account.
"Specifically this year, we have secured funding as part of a number of policy proposals that will increase the work required by prosecutors. We continue to work closely with all public prosecutors to ensure they are both sustainably funded and properly supported in the essential work that they do."