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Legislative Drafters

The New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office is seeking applications from both experienced legislative drafters and from experienced lawyers wishing to become legislative drafters. See pages under About the PCO for information about the office and the Legislation (Recognition of Overseas Lawyers) Order 2014 for information about eligibility to apply.

Experienced lawyers applying must have two to ten years’ post-qualification experience in a legal environment.

Working at PCO places you at the heart of Government, designing New Zealand’s legislation so that it can be fit for purpose, constitutionally sound, and accessible.

The work requires a sound knowledge of the law and in particular the role and interpretation of legislation. It also requires initiative, a willingness to work in collaboration with others and the ability to analyse complex ideas and policies and express them in language that can be easily understood and applied. It also involves discussions with, and the provision of advice to, government departments, Ministers of the Crown, Cabinet committees, and select committees of the New Zealand Parliament.

The PCO is committed to upskilling its capacity to include Te Reo Māori effectively in legislation. Knowledge and ability to understand or speak Te Reo Māori (Maori language) or knowledge of tikanga Māori would be an advantage.

The NZ PCO is located in Wellington City close to the NZ Parliament buildings. The office atmosphere is collegial, and the office provides a family-friendly environment with good working conditions. Staff can participate in the active office netball and indoor soccer teams and enjoy regular social club events. Staff have access to services within the parliamentary complex including the gymnasium, indoor swimming pool and restaurants.

Please see the job description and person specification below. For further information about the position, please contact Diana Beswetherick, email, phone 04 817 9423.

Applications close: 8 am Thursday 23 November 2017

How to apply »



Parliamentary Counsel


Parliamentary Counsel Office
Reserve Bank Building
2 The Terrace
Wellington 6160

Reports to

Drafting Team Manager

Liaises with

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
Other Parliamentary Counsel Office staff

Primary purpose

The primary purpose of the position is to draft Government Bills and Legislative Instruments.


The Parliamentary Counsel is accountable for:

1. working independently

2. the content of his or her own drafts

3. the content of any advice provided by him or her to Ministers, instructing agencies, and select committees

4. attending select committees and explaining changes to Bills (without assistance from other Counsel)

5. attending committee of the whole House and drafting any necessary amendments

6. undertaking the drafting of Legislative Instruments of any complexity

7. drafting lengthy Bills of low to medium complexity

8. drafting lengthy Bills of high complexity as part of a team

9. undertaking peer review of Legislative Instruments and Bills of low to medium

10. supervising Associate Counsel on routine jobs

11. participating in significant office projects (as requested)

12. undertaking office-sanctioned studies or placements (if desired).

In addition the Counsel is accountable for meeting the Parliamentary Counsel accountabilities of:

13. undertaking the drafting of Government and other legislation as assigned by the Team Manager, in a timely, responsive, and professional manner. In addition the Counsel may also be required to provide drafting assistance on private Bills, local Bills, and approved Members Bills, and prepare some consultation drafts to accompany Law Commission reports

14. 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

15. liaising with the Cabinet Office and Office of the Clerk in relation to drafting assignments

16. establishing and maintaining good relations with clients

17. providing advice to Ministers, Cabinet Committees, and select committees as required

18. providing other legislative advisory services as required

19. 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

20. participating and positively contributing to team work and special projects

21. undertaking any other duties associated with the Counsel role as required by the Drafting Team Manager.



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 who has:

  • successfully completed the training and development required for a Parliamentary Counsel; or
  • equivalent experience in legislative drafting in New Zealand or another Commonwealth jurisdiction (including experience in carrying out similar accountabilities).
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. A Counsel is expected to achieve those skills to the standard set out in the attachment to the Counsel Career and Remuneration framework. The PCO-wide skills, in summary, relate to:

  • personal integrity
  • building and maintaining effective interpersonal relationships
  • effectively and efficiently co-ordinating, performing, and progressing work to completion
  • providing high quality results for each person for whom the Counsel provides a service
  • continually developing knowledge and skills, in others and personally.

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

  • facilitate and guide by:
    • providing written and oral advice
    • presenting
    • identifying and communicating relevant risks
    • passing on knowledge
    • mediating
    • winning concessions without damaging relationships
  • draft coherent and effective legislation by:
    • creating robust legislative structures
    • researching precedents
    • using language clearly, concisely, and accurately
    • identifying drafting problems and helping to resolve them
    • providing alternative approaches (where appropriate)
    • contributing to coherence of the statute book
    • applying PCO norms and styles
    • using applicable office resources, including seeking advice
  • acquire and use knowledge to develop sound legislation by:
    • researching, understanding, and applying the law
    • understanding the relevant issues and background
    • assessing the sufficiency of drafting instructions
    • identifying legal problems and helping to resolve them
    • assessing relevant legal risks
  • assist legislation through parliamentary, executive, and administrative processes by being familiar with:
    • relevant guidelines (Cabinet manual, drafting manual, Legislation Advisory Committee Guidelines)
    • quality assurance processes (Bill of Rights vetting, Legislation Design and Advisory Committee, Regulations Review Committee requirements)
    • Standing Orders and House procedures (select committees and committee of the whole)
    • regulation-making processes.


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