New Zealand Law Society - Ten Questions - Fletcher Pilditch

Ten Questions - Fletcher Pilditch

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Fletcher Pilditch
Fletcher Pilditch

Fletcher Pilditch has over 20-years' experience across a broad range of criminal, regulatory and public law litigation and is a barrister at Richmond Chambers in Auckland.

He has particular expertise in white collar fraud and financial crime, aviation law, health and safety litigation, animal welfare, resource management enforcement, judicial review and appearing in public enquiries and coronial Inquests.

Fletcher Pilditch qualified as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 1995, and was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Pitcairn Islands in 2003.

Between 2006 and 2014 he was the Crown Solicitor for Rotorua, and was responsible for the prosecution of all serious crime in this region, in addition to conducting a wide range of regulatory and public law cases.

Why did you choose law as a career?

Good question.  I recall as a kid in the 70s watching a stuffy English TV Programme called The Crown Court and being intrigued by the barristers, which on reflection was an odd intrigue for an 8-year-old to have.  But that interest in the Courts and advocacy stayed with me all the way through secondary school, law school, and eventually to the Court based roles I have fulfilled throughout my career to date.  Also, the Courts are a great place be a lawyer.  The issues are diverse and seldom dull, also an apt description for those of us who work there, and you get to stand around and talk all day I prefer to being at a desk.

Do you still feel that way?

After 20 plus years any career can feel like a grind and who doesn't window gaze thinking about alternative career choices, or dipping out for a while.  But the law consistently provides challenges, rewards, and occasionally reminiscent 70s television type drama.  No matter what age and stage you have reached, there is always a new case, with a bigger challenge, and a step up to take.  The law also offers collegiality, a professional community, and friendship.    The law represents more than a career, it is a vocation.  I am here for the long haul.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying the law?

Do it, but keep an open mind to what you would do with the degree once you got it.  Law degrees open many more doors than the law door, and the attrition of lawyers from private legal practice is not because they do not like the law, it is just that a private legal practice is not for everyone.

What is the one thing that has given you the most satisfaction to date? Without a doubt being the Crown Solicitor for Rotorua for eight years.  This unique and personal responsibility not only gave me many opportunities to lead important criminal trials, but I also worked with a wide and incredibly talented group of people; within my own firm, within the Crown Solicitor network, Crown Law, the Police and so on.  Fulfilling this role in the Rotorua community also taught me things that you just don't learn on Shortland Street (where I work now). 

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

As above, without a doubt being the Crown Solicitor for Rotorua for eight years.  The thing with job satisfaction is that it only comes with the challenges.  Rotorua, like many provincial centres is disproportionately represented in the serious crime statistics and having personal responsibility for the conduct of those cases certainly kept me, and my team, awake at night.  And it is not just turning up to Court to front the trial, it is the exercise of the prosecution discretion, the decision making in the public interest, that you can spend allot of time pacing around your office over.  Sometimes the biggest challenges came in the form of decisions to not proceed with a certain case or set of charges.  They are never easy and seldom met with universal approval.  Moving to the independent bar in Auckland has been a close second on the challenges front, but equal on the satisfaction scale.

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

Staying current, relevant, and focused.  Compared to other commonwealth lawyers, many of us are relative generalists offering advice and advocacy over a cross section of areas.  Keeping up with the pace of change is critical to the service we offer to clients and the outcomes we strive to achieve.  Legislative, regulatory, and policy changes can occur at a breath taking speed in New Zealand.  Staying ahead of that is key.

What do you enjoy doing outside of law?

In my recent previous life I was a single speed mountain bike devotee and when the opportunity arises I like to get out for a few hours on the forest trails.  There are not a lot of Forest trails in Mount Eden however.  I hope to make sailing my new found outside of law activity but this is still in its latent stages.  If anyone needs crew for the Rum Races in Auckland I am keen.

What music do you listen to?

I cannot get enough of Elbow at the moment (thanks to Brian Crump on Nights for that introduction).  I like driving my three children crazy with Manu Chao's album Clandestino, which is my answer to Adele when we play favourites.  Houndmouth and The Lumineers are my alt-country go to bands of the hour.

What are you reading at the moment?

I am between books.  I am reading cases at the moment.

The best Movie and TV Show I've seen?

Too many to name in 10 questions but The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a standout.  It put me onto The Lumineers as well.

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