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Meet the team

The PCO is led by Chief Parliamentary Counsel Cassie Nicholson.

Cassie became our chief executive in May 2021.

She has more than 20 years’ experience at the Parliamentary Counsel Office. In her previous role as Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel (Drafting), Cassie led the drafting group for five years, including through a number of critical legislative emergencies. Cassie has led a diverse range of legislative stewardship initiatives over her career, most recently growing the strength of the Legislation Design and Advisory Committee and developing a programme of standardising legislative provisions.

Cassie's previous experience includes leading complex policy reforms on secondment at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and working, in her early career, as a commercial lawyer in the private sector.

Cassie holds a BA/LLB (Hons) from Victoria University of Wellington, was a Commonwealth scholar, and holds an LLM from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Cassie is supported by the other members of the Executive Leadership Team: Richard Wallace, Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel, Drafting; Karl Simpson, Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel, System and Stewardship; Michelle Groves, Acting Deputy Chief Executive, Access and Digital Strategy; and Vicky Scott, Deputy Chief Executive, Business Services. Each manages one of four groups within the PCO.

The PCO's principal asset is its staff—there are around 90 of us. The work we do is specialised, highly skilled, and can affect the lives of all New Zealanders.

Drafting

The Drafting Group undertakes the drafting of Bills, amendments to Acts, and secondary legislation required for the Government's legislative programme. Drafting is carried out by Parliamentary Counsel, all of whom are lawyers, grouped into four drafting teams. Their work is both challenging and specialised, and yet the issues they deal with range across a wide spectrum.

See Shape the future of New Zealand law for more about working as a drafter, including the qualities needed for the job and drafter profiles.

The Drafting Group is led by Richard Wallace. Richard has been a Parliamentary Counsel since 2003 and manager of the Resources and Treaty Team since July 2018. As well as his drafting experience, Richard has played key roles in other initiatives of the office, including our Access to Secondary Legislation project, work in understanding the impact of digital transformation and drafting as code on the drafting and publication work of PCO, and the original establishment of our Pacific Desk drafting. Richard also worked in private practice before joining the PCO. He has an LLB (Hons) and BA in te reo Māori.

System and Stewardship

The System and Stewardship Group leads the PCO’s stewardship strategy, including furthering our reach in supporting the Crown as a Treaty partner and our broader education strategy. The group supports the Legislation Design and Advisory Committee (LDAC), oversees the revision programme, and is responsible for building our partnerships across the legislative system.

The System and Stewardship Group will be led by Karl Simpson, who takes on the role from 20 September. Karl has strong policy, regulatory and leadership experience having worked in a range of roles in the public service and as the chair of the Legislation Design and Advisory Committee. Most recently, he has held senior leadership roles at the Ministry of Transport, where he led and supported a range of the Ministry’s major projects, and worked on the Ministry’s capability development. Prior to that, he worked for MBIE and its predecessor agencies in a range of leadership, policy and legal roles, including leading major reforms in health and safety at work and financial markets, and working in energy, communications, and employment relations.

Access and Digital Strategy

The Access and Digital Strategy group provides free and ready access for users to up-to-date legislation through the New Zealand legislation website, including all the services needed to support publication and IT development of that website and its underlying drafting and publishing tools and systems.

The Access and Digital Strategy Group is led by Acting Deputy Chief Executive, Access and Digital Strategy, Michelle Groves. Michelle has long experience at the PCO, for many years as Publications Manager where she has played a vital part in the Access to Secondary Legislation Project. Michelle's experience includes working at the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel in similar roles.

Business Services

The Business Services Group provides the critical services needed to support the organisation as a whole. The teams within the group include organisational capability and support, business support, and enterprise-wide IT operations and support.

The Business Services Group is led by Deputy Chief Executive, Business Services, Vicki Scott. Vicki has had a wide range of roles leading business, technical, and operational outcomes, including at MFAT where she led teams of 50+ across diverse corporate capability, operational, and other technical domains. She brings a strong focus on organisational development, assurance, and building systems and processes to support delivery of strategic objectives.

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