Report from Law for Change’s First Hui

Matthew Taylor, 25 July 2013

There is no uplifting experience quite like spending time with like-minded people, each their own respective passions, but working together towards a common goal. Having said that, it can also be quite exhausting!
Law For Change’s first hui, held this past weekend at the Te Manukanuka o Hotorua Marae near Auckland Airport, was one of those experiences. By the end of the weekend there was consensus about the problem of unmet legal needs that Law For Change will seek to address by empowering people to fulfill those legal needs in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Report from Law for Change’s First Hui, 20-21st July 2013:

At hui there was strong agreement that many law students and graduates trying to meet these unmet legal needs are confronted with a fragmented community of organisations that doesn’t always share resources, knowledge and plan together as much as it could, and should. Many people who entered law school with a strong passion for driving positive change in the public interest describe leaving law school in a sort of “tunnel vision” in the search for employment that disconnects them from opportunities and networks that exist out there.

Many law students and graduates are simply unaware of all the options, and only a small number have access to a supportive network of people to assist them. Law For Change aims to bridge this gap.

 The hui reaffirmed the wide range of practical opportunities available to make such positive change in New Zealand and that various individuals and community organisations are doing some seriously cool stuff.

Originally planned as a large-scale conference in the hundreds, hui was pared down to a smaller number of people to facilitate the organisation to grow core infrastructure and better define its mission.  Law For Change is now better equipped to organise such future large-scale events, and is looking forward to fulfilling its original conference vision in 2014. Additionally, we are pleased to announce Law For Change now has convenors in three new centres: Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

Important mission defining discussion was aided by great speakers who are engaged in various areas of public interest law.  This was followed by more nitty gritty planning , both regionally and nationally to take things forward.
Highlight speakers at hui included:
  • Keynote speaker Matt Smith, Barrister Thorndon Chambers and founder of Law For Change, who spoke on what public interest law is, ways for students and lawyers to practice public interest law, and suggested directions the organisation could take to be effective moving forward.
  • Jacquelyn Collins spoke about her work spearheading the creation of Pro Bono Law New Zealand, a Pro Bono representation referral service, modeled on successful referral service models in the UK and elsewhere.
  • Max Harris, Supreme Court clerk now studying towards his Masters of Law at Oxford and another founder of Law For Change presented on successful public interest law organisations from Australia, the United Kingdom, and South Africa and the lessons we might learn from their approach.


Additionally, we had a number of great speakers from community organisations doing great things in the public interest law space including:


The hui was only possible with funding support from the Auckland University Law School Faculty and Otago University Law School Faculty who both provided funding. SOULS, the Society of Otago University Law Students also kept the attendees going with lots of coffee.

From everyone at Law For Change we wish to thank both faculties and SOULS deeply for your support, and the speakers for their invaluable time and effort.


B. Murrah