Graduate, Meredith Connell
“The focus on employee wellbeing here is quite amazing. Meredith Connell offers flexible working, a super modern and beautiful open-plan office with lots of sunlight and greenery.”
What kind of work have you been involved with at MC?
As a graduate and junior solicitor at the Tāmaki Makaurau office, I have been involved in many different aspects of criminal work with the Crown Specialist team. I began by drafting sentencing and bail submissions for my seniors. I have also drafted submissions for pre-trial applications, and conducted file reviews and research tasks. Now that I am a junior solicitor, I have begun appearing before the Court on bail and sentencing matters.
I had also previously interned at the Pōneke office over summer, where I worked on civil matters. I had the opportunity to deal with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development on historic matters, and reviewing and responding to ACC claims.
What career steps have you taken to get to this point?
My study at University took a criminal law flavour without me really noticing. Looking back on my papers, each trimester involved one or two criminal law courses, and these were my best grades. At the same time however, I ensured I covered enough aspects of the law with my study, and picked papers that I might not have otherwise considered. I believe it is important to keep an open mind and make yourself as useful as possible.
What do you enjoy about working at MC?
I often find that no two days are the same. In the Crown Specialist team, each matter we attend to is different and unique. This keeps the content and work exciting, and I feel that I am always learning. Practically, one day I may be drafting different types of submissions, and the next I will be before the Court. To me, this keeps the work from being monotonous. I have had to make some urgent Court appearances on short notice, but I am grateful for these moments because I have found that I have adapted and developed.
What has been your favourite experience at MC so far?
Myself, along with a few of my co-workers, attended Hui-ā-tau in Ōtautahi this year. This is an annual hui for Māori solicitors. This was a revitalising experience for me and I returned to the office with my mauri refilled. We discussed te ture and tikanga, and new and happening changes across the system. It was also an opportunity to catch up with friends and converse with other Māori solicitors.
MC was more than happy to fund this trip, and also encouraged my attendance at Kura Reo (which was scheduled for November this year but has been unfortunately postponed).
I felt that MC prioritised my well-being, and supported my personal and professional development. I believe it is being increasingly recognised that I am a Māori who happens to be a solicitor, and not the other way round.
What is unique about MC?
The training has benefitted me significantly both professionally and personally. The graduate programme provided a wide range of training programmes, including drafting submissions and appearance procedures. This helped ensure I was ready to hit the ground running, and was able to assist my team straight away. I have been able to work with solicitors of varying experience across the firm, and these training programmes, along with feedback, helped me to develop my abilities as I have been learning. I truly believe that practical application and experience has quickly helped me through what I would have thought to be a steep learning curve.
We also have a training module on tikanga Māori, which I have been very grateful for as it has taught me a lot about our role in the legal system, and about myself and the firm. The Crown Specialist team deals with Māori and Pasifika communities often and I believe it is necessary for everyone to have an understanding of these processes in order to reflect these communities and uphold our obligations as a te Tiriti partner. I have realised the benefit of this training across the firm, as my co-workers have become more conscious of the issues of disproportion in our justice system.
What is your advice to other students who would like to work with MC?
It is important to keep an open mind throughout your study and into your career. I did not think I would be appearing before the Court has often as I do. I did not take part in any debates or moots. The training at MC and the support from my peers has allowed me to hone my advocacy skills and continue in my development of them.