I joined the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel last year, after nearly 10 years of working as a tax lawyer in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. While I greatly valued my time spent in private practice, I had become increasingly drawn to working in the public sector. I wanted to broaden my horizons and use my legal skills to make a tangible difference to society. The job description of Assistant Parliamentary Counsel aligned well with these aspirations. It offered the opportunity to work on a diverse range of important legal issues, which is not possible in the increasingly specialised private sector.
In the short time I have been here, I have already worked on several coronavirus measures, on the UK Government’s response to the Grenfell fire and on the renewal of the UK’s armed forces legislation, among other matters. I have had the opportunity to peer into parts of society that I might never otherwise have been exposed to and to learn how they operate. I cannot imagine that many other legal careers would have been able to offer such variety.
Drafting legislation can be daunting and difficult. I was struck by how much brainpower was required to draft even a very short provision. I found the process to be far more rigorous than drafting a clause in a commercial contract. However, this makes it all the more rewarding when you finally manage to produce a coherent and water-tight draft. There is something quite satisfying about seeing a provision which you have helped to shape appear on Legislation.gov.uk
The job is not limited to drafting either. You have to become acquainted with the intricacies of parliamentary procedure and learn how to handle a bill through Parliament. This not only requires a sharp legal mind but good project management and people skills. You will have to build relationships with colleagues in the office, instructing government lawyers, the House Authorities and other stakeholders. This all makes for a very interesting and rewarding career.
I joined the office at a strange time, just as the pandemic was beginning. I only had a few weeks in the office before we all had to start working from home, but everyone has been very supportive and welcoming. I have been impressed by how well the office has managed the transition. The upside of these turbulent times is that it is definitely an exciting and dynamic time to be working as a drafter. I am very glad to have made the move.