New Zealand Law Society - Anne Stevens, Criminal Barrister

Anne Stevens, Criminal Barrister

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Criminal Barrister, Anne Stevens, was admitted in 1988 and has been a barrister sole since 1998 in chambers in the Octagon, Dunedin.

Mrs Stevens says that she loves the lifestyle that Dunedin offers.

“It’s fun, full of student energy and coloured by local creativity. We live on Mount Cargill about 10 minutes north from town, looking down on the harbour, which is stunning. Having three acres of garden makes it a special place."

Mrs Stevens says because the profession is so small, everyone seems to know each other, and a lot of lawyers are linked to the university.

“I think that level of intimacy is very pleasant and helpful.

“There would be a good fifth of the legal profession that do something at the university. I do criminal procedure, a four-week programme for second years … It’s great, meeting young people. It’s hard to get them to court though, they want to be spoon-fed,” she laments.

Future issues for aspiring criminal barristers

Mrs Stevens says the introduction of the Public Defence Service (PDS) to a small centre like Dunedin has been the death knell for junior criminal practitioners because they cannot obtain enough assignments to make it economically viable.

“That makes it very difficult for the private bar to bring practitioners up through the ranks. When the four or five senior practitioners who do the bulk of the jury trials in Dunedin stop work, perhaps in the next five years or so, then there just won’t be the practitioners available with jury level experience.

“The profession has no impact on government policy regarding the distribution of legal aid funds and the way they’re skewed now they go disproportionally to PDS. If you only get three assignments a month from the roster as a junior lawyer, you can’t make a living, and no firm wants you to be doing that work. For senior ones like me it’s fine because I’m doing the jury trials and a lot more private instruction. I am 61 and there is a lot of gardening to do,” she says.

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