Advocate Jackie Harris, Jersey’s first ever trainee legislative drafter is to be seconded to Office of the Parliamentary Counsel (OPC) in London for six months from July.
The OPC serves largely the same function for the UK as the Legislative Drafting Office in Jersey does for Jersey. Parliamentary counsel describe themselves as a group of government lawyers who specialise in drafting legislation and work closely with departments to translate policy into clear, effective and readable law, which is essentially what Jersey’s legislative drafters do.
Advocate Harris joined the Jersey office in April 2019 and is now well advanced in her training. Lucy Marsh-Smith, Principal Legislative Drafter and head of the Legislative Drafting Office said that Jackie’s appointment had been a huge success and convinced her of the merits of home-growing drafting talent whenever possible.
“Jackie took to drafting very easily and soon proved an extremely valuable member of the office, assisting other drafters as well as undertaking her own drafting projects. I established links with the OPC in London and we have had a parliamentary counsel on a career break working for Jersey both last year and this year. Out of this came the generous offer for Jackie to undertake some of her training with the very prestigious office in London.
“I hope she will prove an asset to them and do Jersey proud. This is a wonderful opportunity of both Jackie and the Jersey Office.”
Jackie said: “I am very excited and flattered to be invited to train with the OPC – this is a great opportunity for me personally and for the Jersey Legislative Drafting Office as a whole, and I hope I am only the first of many Jersey-trained drafters to go out and gain experience of other Commonwealth drafting offices. I am looking forward to the experience and to returning to Jersey and sharing everything I have learnt”.
Dame Elizabeth Gardiner, First Parliamentary Counsel at OPC, welcomed Jackie’s secondment. She said: “We are very much looking forward to Jackie joining us for 6 months. It will be a great opportunity to compare ways of working and approaches to drafting, and to build closer ties between our offices. Legislative drafters across the world have a lot in common, but we also find we learn a lot from working with colleagues from other jurisdictions. Hopefully Jackie will also return to Jersey with new ideas at the end of the secondment.”
Jackie’s success has inspired a new round of recruitment for a further trainee with a number of local lawyers competing for appointment. The office prides itself on being family friendly and the flexibility it offers tempers its pressured working environment. The aim is to continue training local lawyers interested in legislative drafting work, while from time to time welcoming appointments from the UK and around the Commonwealth who add greatly to the diversity and skills of the office.