While men are over represented in parliament, so too are the legally inclined. If my calculations are correct, 29 of the 120 members have either practised or studied law - that makes up almost a quarter of the House of Representatives.
Having asked every MP to essentially provide their LinkedIn profile details, I chose a selection of the most colourful responses. Now I don't want to play favourites - so they've been listed in alphabetical order.
Sadly, but not surprising given his disdain for journalists, Winston Peters didn't respond to my correspondence. Bizarrely, Iain Lees-Galloway's press secretary said the minister declined to comment - but not because of his background. After a deep dive into Wikipedia I can only ascertain that his reluctance could be due to the fact that he completed a modest BA.
And before I get down to business, I must give a special mention to the Hon Ron Mark and Jami-Lee Ross who said they didn't have law degrees, or any degree for that matter; Gareth Hughes , who said as a former Greenpeace activist he suspected he wasn't the type of MP I was after; and Ian McKelvie who said: "I never had the inclination to study law and while I have a number of Lawyer friends I try to use them as seldom as possible!!"
So without further ado, let's kick off this listicle with Chris Bishop , who clerked at Russell McVeagh and Crown Law. His relationship with law - but not commercial, he found it boring - was one that started and finished at Victoria University [of Wellington].
In what could only have been a traumatic experience, Bishop spent much of his time tutoring public law sleeping under his desk as a result of having to complete 24,000 words in a month (dissertation and final essay).
And that was self-inflicted. "Every Vic student has stories about the Socratic method and being humiliated in class for not having done readings in advance of class," he said.
Simon Bridges not only practiced as a commercial lawyer (Kensington Swan) and Crown prosecutor, he obtained a Master of Law at Oxford - quite an achievement for someone whose "father bullied [him] into it!"
And while he clearly didn't pick up an English lilt in the old country, he covered high-profile cases while prosecuting in Tauranga. The case involving Tony Robertson for kidnapping a little girl outside Maungatapu Primary School would stay with him till the end of his days, he said. Robertson was the man who murdered Blessie Gotingco while on parole.
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"Jury trial work is hard work. I didn't realise at the time but by the end I was burnt out. Too many grimy [sic] cases for too long. Politics was a surprisingly refreshing and positive experience."
practised law for 20 years before entering parliament. On top of working full time at Simpson Grierson, Collins completed a Master of Laws with Honours, and later completed a Master of Taxation Studies. It appears women can have it all.
Prior to entering parliament, Collins was elected to the Council of the Auckland District Law Society, and was once President of ADLS, and Vice President of the NZ Law Society. Collins may have been a partner at just 27, but it was her desire to make a difference at a more macro level, and the fact that an MP took it upon himself to dissuade her, that prompted her to enter politics.
Unlike her National Party counterparts, commercial interests were never of interest to Golriz Ghahraman , who said Auckland University (LLB/BA) was very much geared towards corporate law at the time. So much so, that when she asked for advice about pursuing criminal law - in what would later be a career in international human rights - her career counsellor told her to look in the Yellow Pages. Like Bridges, she also completed a Master of Law at Oxford, and likened it to Harry Potter (?)!
Justice Minister Andrew Little had also always been on the left side of the law, having worked in a variety of roles in the Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union throughout the nineties and early noughties.
He was offered roles at top-tier law firms throughout his career, but turned them down because he didn't think he could be motivated in the way he was totally motivated to work for working people.
"The highlights were always the cases where as a lawyer largely working on his own representing workers who had obviously been wronged, I got to spar with corporates many times bigger, and legal teams many times more powerful, and prevail for the workers," he said.
Little was fascinated by the miscarriage of justice in the Arthur Allan Thomas Case as a teenager. That, and the legal action relating to the Commission of Inquiry into the Erebus disaster prompted him to do law. In both examples he could see how the law could be used to hold those in power to account.
Tim Macindoe didn't practice law, having completed an LLB at Waikato alongside a BA (Hons). But the plot thickens, as he started his degrees at Otago, and went to none other than the notorious Knox College. He was Vice President in 1981, in fact. But this won't shatter his reputation seeing as I have it on good authority that Nikki Kaye was also once in residence. How I know this, well, is that I too went there, for not one, not two, but three years.
Attorney General David Parker also completed a law and commerce degree at Otago, and it may be of no surprise - given the end of Community Law's funding freeze this year - that the former litigation and managing partner at Anderson Lloyd co-founded the Dunedin Community Law Centre.
While working in the UK during the Thatcher years, he was involved in "cases involving alleged terrorists, murderers, forgers, and the Conservative Party. Not all of those were linked", he said. After a successful legal career - including an unsuccessful challenge to the legality of the Muldoon government's law imposing a rent, price, and wage freeze by regulation - Parker went into politics because he wanted to change laws, rather than apply them.
Chris Penk more or less said a legal career was good for his CV. "I viewed a law degree as a good background for my intended eventual role as a lawmaker.
Partner, lawyer, professor and superstar Duncan Webb completed a masters and doctorate in law. After 17 years of academia, he became a partner at Lane Neave just before the Christchurch earthquakes. "Seeing a homeowner lose a claim against an insurer [was] heart breaking," he said.
"The mismatch between homeowners and insurers in post-earthquake Christchurch led to some significant injustices and working in the area took a personal toll."
Why law? He left high school in a hurry and law seemed "interesting". In fact, he "never had a clear plan to become a lawyer, professor, or Member of Parliament!"
Along the way, however, he argued for free speech rights for gang members wanting to wear patches in Whanganui, established the new tort of "breach of seclusion", and stopped Sky City Casino from having areas where people could smoke while playing the pokies.
[As a side note, Webb attributed his success to mentor and friend, Nigel Hampton QC - "He is old, unkempt, and irreverent. He is afraid of nothing and suspicious of everything and with a prodigious knowledge of the law and human nature. At the same time he is warm, funny and has a positive outlook. That makes for a fierce lawyer and a good friend."]
And last but not least, Meka Whaitiri studied law for two years at Victoria University [of Wellington] but changed to complete a Master of Education. She decided to dump law, because it was "too restrictive, too monocultural, and out of touch [with] Aotearoa's true history".
If you've got any tips, legal tidbits, or appointments that might be of interest, please email Sasha - on firstname.lastname@example.org