June 07, 2017
Maori miss out on legal distinction
Maori lawyers are more likely to become judges than Queens counsel under current conditions.
That’s the response of Victoria University law faculty senior lecturer Mamari Stephens to the absence of many Maori in the latest crop of senior lawyers that made it to that level, which did not include any Maori.
In fact only one lawyer with Maori whakapapa, Dame Lowell Goddard, has ever achieved the distinction back in 1988.
Ms Stephens says QCs are drawn from a small pool of lawyers practising as independent barristers, which doesn’t include many Maori.
She’d like to see more Maori in senior positions.
"It sends a message to young Maori for one thing about what is possible to achieve but also there are a number of barristers sole who have become QC's with high degrees of knowledge in Maori land law for example or Maori customary law but they're all Pakeha practitioners. Where are all the Maori that we need also with those levels of expertise coming through," she says.
Mamari Stephens says while the number of Maori studying law has increased in recent years, the attrition rate is high and many of those who do graduate don’t end up working as lawyers.
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