The law degree at AUT had been recently introduced and it was exciting to be part of something new. The AUT law degree is industry focused and prepared me well to practice law in the real world. I liked the focus AUT had on interactive, workshop based learning.
I was already in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) in a non-legal role so I didn’t go through the external recruiting process. If you are not already part of NZDF you will find the recruiting officers are always happy to answer questions and the NZDF recruiting website has some really good information. I
If you are applying for a legal officer role, rather than a general officer role, you are interviewed by senior legal officers to assess your potential as a lawyer in addition to the normal process. More information about NZDF recruitment process can be found here
I started by completing my Professionals and have been based at Headquarters NZDF in Wellington since. I am lucky to be part of a team who are happy to share their knowledge and experience with me and I have learned a lot. A couple of highlights have been delivering legal training to some crew of HMNZS Wellington while at sea (see photo) and drafting submissions for the Summary Appeal Court of NZ.
Every day is different! I start my day by catching up on what has happened since I was last in the office if I'm not been there. This is because some days I visit other parts of the NZDF to deliver legal training relating to the military justice system or law of armed conflict.At my desk, I usually start by advising on a couple of minor matters before I continue work I'm doing on bigger legal issues.
There are conferences and other professional development activities to take part in. Later this year I am going to the UK for three weeks to take part in a military exercise and after that I am going to Australia for a military law course.
There are some military specific things to do. Every six months I complete the fitness test. There is occasional firearms training and some other general military activities. Most days I have time to go to the gym or for a run.
The ability to influence how the NZDF does business. The NZDF does a lot of good things in New Zealand and throughout the world and being part of that is rewarding. I also enjoy being part of a well-regarded team that the wider legal profession looks to for expertise in the law of armed conflict.
No billable hours! We are not profit driven - we exist to enable the NZDF to be a force for good. The work you will do is varied and you will move between different portfolios, meaning you won’t get bored. Some of work we do is not done anywhere else in New Zealand.
The people you would be working with are good at their job and they want to help you succeed. A core value of the NZDF is comradeship and it is great being part of a team that cares.
A career in the NZDF can be challenging but it is worth it.