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COVID-19 Legislative Drafter/Parliamentary Counsel

6-18 month fixed term or secondment opportunities

Have you ever wanted to work at the heart of government, or try your hand at designing and developing New Zealand’s laws? You may want to try out legislative drafting before considering it longer term, or be looking to learn some valuable skills and insights to take back to your usual role. Aspiring managers may want an opportunity to develop their leadership skills at the centre of New Zealand’s most pressing issue.

The PCO is playing a critical and distinctive role in developing and designing legislation to respond to the ever-changing needs of COVID-19. We work closely with government departments, Crown Law, and others to deliver fit-for-purpose legislation at speed.

We are looking to build our team of dedicated COVID-19 legislative drafters, together with a new manager, to ensure that we can continue to provide high quality legislation in a dynamic environment.  In this team, you will work alongside experienced counsel and gain a fascinating insight into the politics, policy development, and legal design behind New Zealand’s COVID-19 response.     

We are advertising separately for a COVID-19 Team Manager »

What we are looking for

For the legislative drafters, we are looking for practising lawyers with two or more years of post-qualification experience.  You will need:

  • excellent legal, analytical, and problem-solving skills, including the ability to break down complex ideas and reason logically; and
  • to be clear a communicator and an advocate for plain language.

All successful applicants will need the ability to work under pressure in a complex and fast changing environment and to be resilient and comfortable with ambiguity.

For more about the role see the job description and person specification below.

What we offer you

A role in this team offers the opportunity to:

  • work on “greenfield” projects which require unique and innovative legal solutions
  • enhance and adjust existing legislation in response to developing situations
  • analyse complex legal issues relating to health policy, emergency legislation, and the Bill of Rights
  • collaborate with and influence some of Government’s top lawyers and policy analysts… and more!

The PCO offers flexible working arrangements to all staff. The PCO is located in Wellington City close to the NZ Parliament buildings and the Wellington railway station.  The office atmosphere is collegial, and the office provides a family-friendly environment with good working conditions. Staff can participate in the office netball team, learn te reo Māori and enjoy regular social club events. Staff also have access to services such as a gymnasium, indoor swimming pool and restaurants.


You may apply for this role only if you have the right to work in New Zealand.

Entry to New Zealand from all countries remains strictly controlled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  For information about New Zealand work or residence visas, please visit

Applications will be accepted only if they include a CV and a letter of application.

Those applying for a fixed term position should also fill in an application form.  Please see How to apply for more information. 

Applications close on Monday 10 January 2022 or before and should be sent to the recruitment inbox: Please note that we are looking to fill these positions as quickly as we can so will be considering applications as they are received.

How to apply »

Job description


COVID-19 Parliamentary Counsel (fixed term or secondment)


Parliamentary Counsel Office
Reserve Bank Building
2 The Terrace

Reports to

Drafting Team Manager

Liaises with

Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel (Drafting)

Parliamentary Counsel

Other PCO staff


Ministers of the Crown

Officials from Government departments and other Government agencies

Select committees

Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

Cabinet Office

Primary purpose

The primary purpose of the position is to draft Government Bills and secondary legislation relating to COVID-19. 

The Parliamentary Counsel is accountable (with training and supervision) for:
  1. drafting Bills relating to COVID-19 (and other Bills as work capacity permits)
  2. drafting secondary legislation relating to COVID-19 (and other secondary legislation as work capacity permits)
  3. drafting Bills relating to COVID-19 (and other Bills as work capacity permits)
  4. peer review of secondary legislation and Bills relating to COVID-19 (and other secondary legislation and Bills as work capacity permits)
  5. attending select committees and committee of the whole House (with assistance from other Counsel) on Bills drafted by them
  6. participating in office projects (as requested, and work capacity permits).

As the COVID-19 Parliamentary Counsel learns and develops they are progressively responsible for:

  1. undertaking the drafting of legislation as assigned by the Team Manager, in a timely, responsive, and professional manner
  2.  positively contributing to the achievement of the goals and objectives set out in the PCO's Strategic Intentions, in particular, by drafting legislation that is clearly expressed and legally effective, and by contributing to the ongoing improvement of drafting practices
  3.  establishing and maintaining good relations with clients
  4.  providing legislative advisory services as required
  5.  acquiring, maintaining, and developing drafting and other professional skills by participating fully in training and development programmes, and actively seeking to acquire, maintain, and develop drafting and other professional skills
  6.  participating and positively contributing to team work and special projects
  7.  undertaking any other duties associated with the role as required by the Drafting Team Manager.


Person specification


1.  A New Zealand or overseas degree or professional qualification in law is essential. The work requires a sound knowledge of the law, initiative, and the ability to analyse complex ideas and policies. 


2.  The position requires an experienced lawyer with post-qualifications experience in private practice, the public service, or another legal environment.  

Skill requirements

3.  The Counsel is expected to have or acquire the PCO-wide skills and the Counsel skills set out in the PCO Skills policy.  The PCO-wide skills in summary, relate to:

 (a)        personal integrity

 (b)        building and maintaining effective interpersonal relationships

 (c)        effectively and efficiently co-ordinating, performing and progressing work to completion

 (d)        providing high quality results for each person for whom the Counsel provides a service

 (e)       continually developing knowledge and skills, in others and personally.

4.  With regard to the Counsel skills, the Counsel is expected to: 

(a)        facilitate and guide by:

 (i)         providing written and oral advice

(ii)        presenting

(iii)       identifying and communicating relevant risks

(iv)       passing on knowledge

(v)        mediating

(vi)       winning concessions without damaging relationships

 (b)        draft coherent and effective legislation by:

 (i)         creating robust legislative structures

(ii)        researching precedents

(iii)       using language clearly, concisely, and accurately

(iv)       identifying drafting problems and helping to resolve them

(v)        providing alternative approaches (where appropriate)

(vi)       contributing to coherence of the statute book

(vii)      applying PCO norms and styles

(viii)     using applicable office resources, including seeking advice

 (c)        acquire and use knowledge to develop sound legislation by:

 (i)         researching, understanding, and applying the law

(ii)        understanding the relevant issues and background

(iii)       assessing the sufficiency of drafting instructions

(iv)       identifying legal problems and helping to resolve them

(v)        assessing relevant legal risks

 (d)        assist legislation through parliamentary, executive, and administrative processes by being familiar with:

(i)         relevant guidelines (Cabinet manual, drafting manual, Legislation Design and Advisory Committee Guidelines)

(ii)        quality assurance processes (Bill of Rights vetting, Legislation Design and Advisory Committee, Regulations Review Committee requirements)

(iii)       Standing Orders and House procedures (select committees and committee of the whole)

(iv)       regulation-making processes.

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