New Zealand Law Society - Ten questions: Anna Jeffs, Private Investigator

Ten questions: Anna Jeffs, Private Investigator

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Anna Jeffs
Anna Jeffs

Anna Jeffs is a licensed Private Investigator, Principal of Fox Private Investigators and member of the New Zealand Institute of Professional Investigators Incorporated.

Anna Jeffs specialises in Private Investigation legal services and support for all lawyers, including Criminal, Civil, Family and Employment lawyers. Such services include locating witnesses and skip tracing, taking statements and drafting affidavits, document serving, general investigations, employment checks, GPS/Vehicle tracking and surveillance.

1. Why did you choose law as a career?

I have always felt a huge sense of the importance of fairness in both my personal life and professional career and law fulfils that for me. My journey started with working for Legal Aid in the UK, which sparked my interest in law. I then started studying for the Institute of Legal Executive examinations and was particularly interested in Criminal, Family Law, Human Rights and Criminology. I enjoyed dealing directly with clients, conducting advocacy in Chambers, and instructing and attending Court with Barristers.

When I moved to New Zealand, I worked in a managerial position at the Legal Services Agency in Auckland before working for Meredith Connell, The Crown Solicitor's Office, as part of the criminal Jury Trial Preparation team. I always felt incredibly fortunate to work alongside such inspirational prosecutors and defence counsel, the Police, members of the judiciary and court staff.

2. Do you still feel that way?

Absolutely. My passion and focus on law has become even stronger since becoming a Private Investigator. I have worked on some fascinating cases and you never know what the next phone call will bring or where it will take you! The saying "Life is stranger than fiction" has never been more true with the cases that I deal with!

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

My role as a Private Investigator places me in a very privileged position. It is a very humbling to be able to work alongside lawyers to assist people when they are often in a very vulnerable and emotionally charged position, whether it be assisting someone with criminal charges or dealing with family or employment matters, so to be able to facilitate resolution for someone gives me a huge sense of achievement.

I also assist clients who are concerned that their partners are having an affair or concerned with matrimonial or child care matters. In addition to my surveillance role, I am also very focused on being able to provide additional support to help empower clients through an understandably very traumatic time.

All cases bring me a sense of satisfaction but being able to tell a client who was adopted at birth that you have found their missing birth mother is indescribably rewarding.

4. What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a Private Investigator in the legal field?

When I am working on surveillance, you never know where the person of interest will go, which is always the exciting part of the job, whereas the many hours beforehand waiting in the car is not so exciting! I often work all hours of the day and night and am regularly instructed to conduct a job with no notice, which makes it difficult at times to maintain a social life!

What some may consider as challenges of the occupation are what I consider integral to the role and are opportunities and provide development, which is what make my career so exciting and unpredictable.

5. What advice would you give to someone considering studying law?

I would encourage anyone to go into Law with an open mind of the many different facets and opportunities of the profession that law offers, both locally and internationally as well as across the various employment opportunities instead of the traditional mainstream ones. I would always say to follow the area of law where you feel you have the passion and the drive to be the very best you can be and to remember that experience across the board make you more-rounded professional and person.

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

I think that there are two main challenges. The first is appreciating how the economy can impact on the expectations and parameters that the legal profession operates in.

The second is that in the world of social media, there are issues of using this tool responsibly to educate the public about the justice system, manage public expectations (e.g. combatting the "CSI effect") and understanding how publicity may impact on and even precipitate law making (such as the Search and Surveillance Act).

7. What do you enjoy doing outside work?

I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, horse riding and cooking, especially Italian cooking.

8. What music do you listen to?

I enjoy all types of music especially Bruce Springsteen and anything I can dance to.

9. What are you reading at the moment?

Dawn French has always been a wonderful role model for me. As well as being incredibly smart and funny, she deals with adversity with such strength and dignity... so I couldn't wait to get my hands on her latest novel "According to Yes".

10. The best movie and TV shows I've seen are…

My favourite movie is the Sound of Music (dare I admit the sing along version!) and I love watching the Graham Norton Show and Alan Carr Chatty Man.

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