New Zealand Law Society - JustSpeak


This article is over 3 years old. More recent information on this subject may exist.

JustSpeak national operations manager Hannah Gabriel had always been interested in fairness but it was during her law degree – she will be admitted this month – that she became passionate about access to justice.

Ms Gabriel haphazardly became involved in JustSpeak – a nationwide non-partisan group of young people who are legally inclined and who advocate for evidence and experience-based changes to the criminal justice system.

She attended a JustSpeak forum and some weeks later read in the news about a possible reform to the Youth Court "that sounded deeply unfair".

In response she wrote JustSpeak an impassioned email about how terrible the change would be and how she hoped they had done something about it and was met with the response "why don't you do something about it?"

"That's what I really like about JustSpeak; if you're passionate and motivated it's possible to create opportunities for engagement.


photo of Hannah Gabriel
Hannah Gabriel

"Working in the community sector is addictive. I'm already planning a small NGO with a friend of mine. It will be entirely volunteer run, unveiling to be determined. I would love to keep working in advocacy, whether as a lawyer or in another capacity. Having a legal background is really helpful for this sort of work."

JustSpeak is focused on criminal justice "because it has a lot of complex issues that have a huge impact on the whole country, but they're often dealt with in a knee-jerk way based on short-term goals of punishment or immediate community safety (physically removing people from their environments)".

The current criminal justice climate fails to take into account what will stop people from reoffending, and why people offend in the first place, she says.

"We want to reduce harm and one of the key ways of doing that is looking at how our justice system can better support both offenders and victims. Success in this area could be an entirely different way of doing criminal justice, but first we have to convince politicians that the public is interested in change."

A hundred-or-so volunteers, criminology and law students and graduates help JustSpeak with research and submission writing, as well as organising forums, helping with social media and general assistance in campaigns.

"The justice system disproportionately affects young people, so young people should have their voices heard. We hold forums for the general public and camps for young people and advocate through reports, submissions and the media for a new approach to justice," Ms Gabriel says.

Lawyer Listing for Bots