Inspired by 'Rumpole of the Bailey', Grant Fletcher became a barrister. In addition to practise, he's a youth advocate and legal officer in the Army Reserve. Catch up with Grant in this Q&A on his career, teaching at the College, and advice he has for students to make the most of PLSC.
What does your day-to-day job involve?
I am a barrister, and work in Chambers in Christchurch. Prior to that I worked a Ministry Prosecutor for ten years, working in the Animal Welfare, Fisheries, Food Safety and Biosecurity space. I was flattered to be asked to join a prestigious chambers in Christchurch and did so last year, and have never looked back.
Every day is quite different. I would say that 50% of my practice is Criminal law. This involves advising clients as to their options, reducing the legal risks they face, and most importantly of all advocating for them in Court. Barristers have the skills to identify vulnerabilities in, say, the Crown case, but also be able to ensure peoples’ case is properly put across. I also provide advice to persons and organizations in my specialist areas, such as reducing the legal risk they may face.
On any day I may be I my office catching up on paperwork, heading across to court to enter a plea for a client, and then out to the prison to visit a client for , say , a parole board hearing.
I am also a Youth Advocate. This is a very difficult area of work and involves working in a unique jurisdiction. This requires skills in relating to young persons and children.
As a part time role, I am also a legal officer in the reserve Army. This role has taken me overseas on operations with the New Zealand Army. Legal officers provide legal advice to Commanders in relation to Military Operations, Military law, and legal compliance for the armed forces.
What do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy the opportunity to make a difference in people lives. Frequently you meet people at a crisis point in their lives, and you are the only one they have on their side. Standing against the might of the state and ensuring the people have an advocate is deeply rewarding.
How did you come to work in this area?
*Laughs* It may be a bit before most students time, but a long time ago there was a TV show called “Rumpole of the Bailey” about a British Barrister. I loved it, and that’s what started me on this path. As far as the army goes, my family has a long military service record, and joining the Army was always on the cards. I have been very lucky to combine both.
What advice would you give to students?
The best advice I can give is that if you want to be an advocate, you must make the most of every opportunity Uni gives you. By that I mean be a part of say the law students society, or cultural or sporting groups. These give you skills to lead, but also round you out. Mooting and witness examination are obviously pretty useful.
What do you like about teaching at The College of Law?
I really enjoy teaching. The keenness and interest of the students is always fun, and I really enjoy the chance to get to know them as people. I very much enjoy the face to face teaching and look forward to it every year.
How can students get the most of it?
I think the way ahead is not see it as a chore, but rather as a really enjoyable chance to test your skills and broaden yourself as a person. It’s a chance to make friends, form a peer group and get yourself out of the comfort zone.