Law Job With A Difference: Legal Officer With the NZ Defence Force

Law Job With A Difference: Legal Officer With the NZ Defence Force

Law jobs continue to evolve and develop and as the in-house legal departments continue to grow in many corporate and government roles, some challenging and interesting law jobs also arise, such as that recently taken by Troy McLaren with the New Zealand Defence Force.

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Troy McLaren graduated from Auckland University with a law and a computer science degree, looking for a job in the public sector.

He wound up with a fascinating role as a legal officer with the New Zealand Army.

“Joining the military was a path I considered when I left high school. I was tempted by the mental and physical challenge that it posed. But I ended up committing to a six-year academic route instead,” Lieutenant McLaren said.

“I was intrigued by the variety of work legal officers are involved in. Their ability to advise on diverse areas of law appeals because it means a wide-ranging career and opportunity to continually learn.

“Going overseas and getting involved in physical training exercises is something no other law career offers. This sets the New Zealand Defence Force apart from other career paths I was exploring.”

As part of the Special Officer Induction Course, an 11-week course at Waiouru Military Camp designed to introduce potential officers to the standards and discipline required to be an effective member of the NZ Army, the officer cadets took part in Exercise Maadi to introduce them to basic tactics and get a taste of life as a combat soldier.

“We got to take turns in the different section roles and carry out ‘missions’ to clear enemies from tactical positions. Learning basic assault manoeuvres, we got to fire blank ammunition at enemy parties we encountered,” he said.

“There were amazing sunrises and sunsets across Tongariro National Park every morning and evening. We tramped through torrential rain, floated down a river with our packs and spent two hours every night on sentry duty under the stars. It made me feel both bizarre and incredibly lucky that I was able to do all of these things as part of my job.”

Legal officers work as in-house lawyers and can advise on any relevant area of law ranging from criminal, administrative, military, and employment, to human rights, international, contract and resource management law. Legal officers attend courts martial and other courts/tribunals.

Legal officers also have the opportunity to enhance their general military skills through additional Defence Force courses outside the legal sphere.

“Anyone that wants a job that’s out of the ordinary, active and challenging should consider joining. I highly recommend taking on the challenge. It is incredibly rewarding and unlike any experience and you will meet some incredible people,” he said.

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