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Legislative Drafters

The Parliamentary Counsel Office is looking for experienced lawyers wishing to become legislative drafters.

As Parliamentary Counsel, you will be responsible for drafting Government Bills and Legislative Instruments. Working at PCO places you at the heart of Government. You will work with instructing agencies to design law that is fit for purpose, constitutionally sound, and accessible to a wide range of groups.

This important work requires you to be skilled in the law, analytically strong, and great at communicating and working positively with others. You will enjoy problem-solving and be able to analyse complex ideas and policies and communicate them clearly. You will need to bring creativity and a broad knowledge of the statute book to design a solution that effectively implements the policy at hand and that fits within the wider legal system. In developing legislation, you will work closely with government departments, provide advice to select committees of the New Zealand Parliament, and be involved in advising Ministers of the Crown and Cabinet committees.

To be successful as Parliamentary Counsel you will:

  • Have at least two years’ post-qualification experience in a legal environment
  • Have sound knowledge of the law and a keen interest in the role and interpretation of legislation
  • Achieve results both within a team and independently, showing a high level of initiative and judgement, flexibility and a sense of responsibility.

E manawa rahi ana Te Tari Tohutohu Pāremata ki te whakapakari i te pūkenga kia whakamahi ai te reo Māori i roto i te whakatureture. Anei ētahi tūranga, mō te hunga e mōhio ana ki te reo me te tikanga Māori, hei hautū te whakautu a te Tari nei ki tēnei kaupapa e panoni ana.

The PCO is committed to upskilling its capacity to include te reo Māori effectively in legislation. There are opportunities to influence and guide PCO’s response to this rapidly developing area for those fluent in te reo Māori and with knowledge of tikanga Māori.

The 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 office netball team, learn te reo Māori, and enjoy regular social club events.  Staff have access to services within the parliamentary complex including the gymnasium, indoor swimming pool and restaurants.

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

Applications close: 5pm Wednesday 7 July 2021

How to apply »

Job description


Parliamentary Counsel


Parliamentary Counsel Office
Reserve Bank Building
No 2 The Terrace

Reports to

Drafting Team Manager

Liaises with

Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel (Drafting) and parliamentary counsel and 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


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

Key accountabilities

Depending on your level of experience, a Parliamentary Counsel is accountable for:

  1. working independently
  2. the content of their own drafts
  3. the content of any advice provided by them 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. drafting 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 complexity
  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:

  1. 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
  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. liaising with Cabinet Office, Office of the Clerk, in relation to drafting assignments
  4. establishing and maintaining good relations with clients
  5. providing advice to Ministers, Cabinet Committees, and select committees as required
  6. providing other legislative advisory services as required
  7. 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
  8. participating and positively contributing to team work and special projects
  9. undertaking any other duties associated with the Counsel 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.

Skills 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:

(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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