New Zealand Law Society - Ten Questions: Associate Justice Minister Simon Bridges

Ten Questions: Associate Justice Minister Simon Bridges

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Simon Bridges
Simon Bridges MP

Before being elected MP for Tauranga in 2008, Mr Bridges worked in private litigation practice and as a Crown Prosecutor in the District and High Courts. A graduate of the University of Auckland (BA Political Science and history, LLB (Hons)), Mr Bridges has also completed a degree at Oxford, attended the London School of Economics, and worked as an intern at the British House of Commons. 

Why did you choose law as a career?

In truth, I started law school because I had an older brother who had become a lawyer and my dad thought I should. But over time I saw it as a great avenue for public service.

Do you still feel that way?

Absolutely. Becoming an MP was an extension of this – a way of serving and helping others.

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

I don't know if I could say one single thing, but as a Crown prosecutor, gratitude from victims of crime was very satisfying and made the hard work worth it. In politics you can achieve the same sort of feeling helping constituents.

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

It is hard to go past some of the bigger, more high profile cases I prosecuted. They obviously spring to mind. But dealing with smaller cases could also bring great challenge and reward. Dealing with people's real, thorny problems and solving them is immensely satisfying.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying law?

Go for it. Even if you don't go on to practice, it helps one think well and opens up many possibilities that might not otherwise be available. In general, studying anything in depth is never a bad idea.

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

Personally, I think the model of charging on a time and attendance basis is out of date and provides all sorts of perverse incentives including the incentive to complicate things not simplify them. It is also terrible for work life balance (not that I have ever particularly mastered this one). People should be paid for value achieved not minutes spent.

What do you enjoy doing outside of lawyering?

As a Cabinet Minister, like most successful lawyers I am time poor (note the answer immediately above). With a young family, prioritising them is essential. Then if I am lucky I fit in a bit of outdoor exercise and reading for pleasure.

What music do you listen to?

A bit of all sorts but as a former drummer I have a bias towards music with real drums. If I think about concerts I've gone to this year I loved Sting and Paul Simon touring together. In October I am going to Maroon 5. And as for the Wiggles, when they are in town you can't keep me away.

What are you reading at the moment?

I believe it's important that politicians have an understanding of where the world is heading. For that reason most of my reading outside of core work material is international magazines and papers; the Economist, the Spectator, and the FT (online) each week. I have Māori Made Easy by Scotty Morrison by my bed which I hope to get to soon.

The best movie and TV shows I've seen ?

I like a good box set. House of Cards, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad are three that have sucked me in for weeks on end in recent times.

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