Aimee Bryant, positively impacting law reform
Aimee Bryant, Manager Law Reform and Advocacy at the New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa tells us about her role and the work of the Society’s Law Reform committees.
An alternative law career
I chose to study law because it seemed like a sensible addition to my BA in political science, and I quickly grew to love it. Law organises and touches every aspect of our lives, and is a key mechanism through which we are able to live happy, free, and dignified lives.
Since graduating with a BA/LLB (1st class hons), and an LLM (1st class hons) in international law, I have largely had what you might call an ‘alternative law career’. I began in local government, advising elected members on their obligations around meeting conduct and consultation. I’ve investigated the conduct of central and local government agencies, worked extensively with the Official Information Act, and trained Pacific Ombudsmen.
Before I joined the Law Society, I was with the Ombudsman, where I was involved in setting up the Ombudsman’s intensified oversight of the Oranga Tamariki system. We worked on the legislation, and handled all the Ombudsman’s investigations in that area.
My roles with the Ombudsman covered such a wide range of law and policy, including all those constitutional and rule of law issues that are so exciting when public and international law are your thing. For me, this has always been immensely rewarding.
A passion for law reform
I joined the Law Society as Manager, Law Reform and Advocacy, because the work is varied and interesting and I get to make a real difference. We get to look at the law and new legislation and assess it to make sure it meets the principles of the rule of law and the administration of justice and ensuring there is access to justice for the ordinary person. Already, I am energised by the lawyers I’m meeting and working with, and the work that we are doing to improve the law and increase access to justice.
Once you have had the opportunity to positively impact law reform or successfully advocate for a systems issue to be resolved, you do get hooked. While most law in New Zealand involves a period of public consultation – and this is essential – we work hard at the Law Society to maintain relationships with government agencies, so that we can contribute early and effectively to the development of good law. It’s not always possible for the public to access and engage in consultation, so in everything we do, we have the public interest and administration of justice in mind.
I want to ensure that we have great committees, representative of the law profession and society, which are well placed to comment on issues that are important to the public. We are looking to increase our advocacy work, especially around access to justice.
How to get involved in Law Reform
My team and I support the Law Society’s Law Reform Committee and its specialist committees. These are made up of volunteers who give an amazing amount of their time, expertise and energy to developing good law.
Appointments are made to the committees every two years. Being part of these committees allows lawyers to play an important role in law reform and is an excellent basis for professional development as well as collegiality and networking.
We are calling for applications from members and associate members of the Law Society right now. In fact, the deadline for applications is 5pm, Friday 30 July 2021 so get in quick.