The National Party is certainly good for one thing - and that's bringing pizzazz to the opposition. As more than 20 per cent of Parliament is made up of lawyers, let's see who is representing the legal industry in the National Party.
David Bennett studied law at university but he never really practised, instead he used it as a general degree for work at KPMG before going into farming, interestingly.
Chris Bishop studied law at Victoria University of Wellington because he was interested in the exercise of public power - in other words, politics, surprise, surprise.
"Every Vic student has stories about the Socratic method and being humiliated in class for not having done readings in advance of class. That happened to me.
"Kiri Allan MP and I were in a class together. She remembers me (I suspect) as the guy who argued all the time and always thought they were right. Probably accurate."
He tutored public law for two years and spent most of the second year sleeping under the desk in the tutors' room as he tried to complete a 9000-word essay and 15,000-word honours dissertation in just a month.
It was his mother who made an impact on his desire to pursue law because she went back to law school after 10 years as a teacher. Despite having young-pup Chris in tow, she ended up at Buddle Findlay and is now senior Crown Counsel at Crown Law.
Otherwise, Bishop's a fan of Claudia Geiringer, Judge Bill Hastings, and Andrew Butler, who he got to know while interning at Russell McVeagh.
"I regard [Andrew] as a friend and one of the smartest people I've ever met".
Simon Bridges and Simeon Brown (and Joseph Mooney) are legally inclined but get little mention here as they failed to respond to my emails.
Judith Collins, however, gets an A-plus for effort. Like the cohort of millennials who became lawyers as a result of watching Boston Legal and Ally McBeal, Collins turned away from medical aspirations after seeing dramatic portrayals of women lawyers righting wrongs.
We're not talking about Legally Blonde, folks, although the connection rings true to some degree as Collins and main character Elle Woods were made to believe that their best efforts for success were to get married. Rather, the notion made both these characters even more determined to be lawyers. For Collins, "having announced to everyone I knew that I would be a lawyer, I then had to make it happen".
Collins' university contemporaries include John Tamihere, Justice Simon Eisdell Moore, and Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft. Fun fact: Becroft and Collins played badminton together in the Auckland University Badminton Club.
Otherwise, Collins specialised in employment, commercial, property, and tax law before entering Parliament in 2002. While she simply does not dwell on her career lowlights, instead always preferring to see them as positive lessons (is this a National Party slogan in the making?) being elected president of the Auckland District Law Society was a highlight.
Chris Penk wasn't particularly interested in practising law, instead being more interested in the value of a legal education as a potential future lawmaker. "Other than that, I thought it could help me in some other policy or public service role, if I didn't make it to Parliament". Does this mean bureaucrats could be seen as failed MPs? Who's to know!
Penk's studies took place before, during, and after his career as a naval officer. At one point he found himself studying while on an Australian submarine, and on another occasion while on an amphibious ship of the US Navy.
You won't find Penk mentioned in any judgments as he particularly enjoyed helping clients avoid litigation. "I always felt the need to advise clients against going to court, given the cost, time and uncertainty involved, which is something that I've often reflected on since.
"It was obvious to me then that our system was broken and it's hardly better now."
It makes sense, therefore, that Penk would like to see much more dispute resolution by alternative means; an expanded jurisdiction for the tribunals to free up courts proper; and for disputes to be resolved much more quickly through better use of IT, among other things.
Lucky last, Scott Simpson, graduated with a law degree from the University of Auckland. While he never practised, like David Bennet, he does not regret the legal training as "it has stood me in good stead for both business and politics".
White Island update
In a legal first, last week WorkSafe filed charges against 13 parties in relation to last year's Whakaari/White Island eruption, which led to the deaths of 22 people. It found the parties did not meet the obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
As explored in an earlier column, under section 30 and section 36, a 'person conducting a business undertaking' - which could be a business or individual - must manage risk, and do what is "reasonably practicable" in the circumstances to ensure the safety of persons in or around the workplace. Under section 47, if you fail to do this, you could get a fine of up to $3 million and/or five years in jail.
The charges have been laid in the Auckland District Court. Each charge carries a maximum find of $1.5m. Worksafe has not named the parties, citing they have the right to seek name suppression at their first appearance in court. Ten organisations and three individuals have been charged.
A variety of entities could be subject to prosecution: the Local Government Minister, Whakatāne District Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Ovation of the Seas, Civil Defence, GNS Science, and tour companies' White Island Tours (Ngati Awa Holdings Ltd) and Volcanic Air.
I find it particularly sad for Ngāti Awa Holdings Ltd - owned and operated by Ngāti Awa - seeing as they provided work for their community and took over the tours just three years ago.
It should be noted that the iwi tried and failed to secure property rights over the island. Instead, it is privately owned by the Buttle family. The island passed into European hands in the late 1830, and was officially recognised in 1867 via the Native Land Court.
GNS, Civil Defence, White Island Tours, Volcanic Air, and the Buttles have confirmed they are among the parties charged.
- Sasha Borissenko is a freelance journalist has reported extensively on the law industry.