AUT University’s School of Law hosted the 2015 Public Defence Service (PDS) national workshop in April.
The professional development workshop comprised two days of speakers and sessions tailored to educate and inform criminal lawyers employed by the PDS, which is part of the Ministry of Justice.
The Minister of Justice Hon Amy Adams opened the workshop and welcomed the more than 145 lawyers in attendance. The Director of PDS, Madeleine Laracy, emphasised in her address that regular and high quality legal training is one of the greatest benefits that PDS has to offer criminal lawyers and is an area of strategic focus for the organisation. To that end, a centralised PDS "National Training Programme" has been implemented.
Other speakers at the workshop included a senior Law Commission researcher Mihi Pirini who spoke about the Law Commission’s investigation of alternative court proceedings for sexual offending and sociologist Dr Jarrod Gilbert on the topic of gangs in New Zealand.
AUT senior lecturer in criminal law Marnie Prasad and Deputy Public Defender (Waitakere) Dr John Edgar presented a paper on recent criminal case law developments from the Supreme Court of New Zealand.
Other topics covered during the two day workshop included how to deal with workplace stress, how to deal with difficult people, consent searches and PDS ethics policy.
AUT University Dean of Law Professor Charles Rickett said: “It is important for the Law School to engage with our profession by hosting events like this on campus. The PDS Workshop was a chance to bring members of the legal profession from across New Zealand onto campus and let them know a little about the law degree we offer. It also meant we could include some of our fourth year law students, giving them a taste of the life of a lawyer and the chance to network with potential future professional colleagues.”
Dr John Edgar, who organised the workshop, said “The hosting of the event by AUT’s Law School underlined the positive relationship between the two organisations. During the 2015 academic year PDS staff will also be giving guest lectures while AUT law students will be able to apply for the newly established PDS summer internships.”
The Public Defence Service is New Zealand’s largest criminal law practice. After beginning as a pilot in the Auckland and Manukau courts in 2004 the service has grown to cover New Zealand’s busiest courts and employs more than 170 staff.