Last Year 36 – Running the largest criminal defence organisation in the country provides Peter Hutchinson with an influence that can hardly be understated. Appointed to his role as Director of the Public Defence Service in December 2017, he has 20 years’ experience as a barrister behind him, as well as working for the PDS since 2010.
The PDS is part of the Ministry of Justice although it operates independently providing legal aid defence work from 10 offices across New Zealand. The connection to the Justice Ministry has created issues for many lawyers, including the Bar Association who would prefer to see the PDS operating completely independently of the court system.
Developed from a pilot scheme in Manukau in 2004, the PDS has grown to an organisation with 10 offices and around 250 staff, of whom around 200 are lawyers.
The PDS sees itself as a leader in securing that future by providing training and a supportive practice environment. Its structured Law Graduate programme gives new lawyers the chance to immerse themselves in a criminal defence environment within its network.