NZ Law Journal reflects on fast-approaching centenary

General Editor of the leading industry publication shares her thoughts on its 100-year journey

NZ Law Journal reflects on fast-approaching centenary

Picture this: the year is 1925, you are a practicing lawyer, and in a moment of spare time you pick up a copy of Butterworths Fortnightly Notes. It contains some brief notes on recent case law, typed on a page of faded brown paper.

Almost 100 years on, and Butterworths Fortnightly Notes still exists – in fact, it is one of New Zealand’s leading legal publications by LexisNexis. However, you might know it as the New Zealand Law Journal (NZLJ).

The NZLJ will be celebrating its 100th anniversary next year, and its general editor Dr Brenda Midson says it has evolved hugely since its humble beginnings. Today, the journal is published eleven times a year with articles up to 5,500 words long, and its contributors include some of the most high-profile and influential names in the industry.

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“We publish a very wide range of material, and our authors aren’t just limited to legal practitioners,” Dr Midson tells NZ Lawyer.

“We’ve had psychologists and psychiatrists writing on mental health law, and we’ve had journalists writing about the mosque killings and the subsequent media response. If the content is relevant to New Zealand law, then we’re interested!”

Dr Midson is currently in the process of putting together the February edition of the NZLJ, and readers can expect a treasure trove of insights from leading voices. These include Sir Geoffrey Palmer, who regularly publishes with the NZLJ on a range of issues including last year’s election results, democracy, MMP, and the uniqueness of the current coalition.

It will also contain a piece from Sir David Baragwanath, who will talk about essential fresh water and the Treaty – a very relevant topic in light of the government’s recent talks around Treaty revision.

Sir Baragwanath is also a regular contributor to the publication on issues of international law and justice and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.  Other highly distinguished authors include Sir Andrew Tipping, former Justice of the Supreme Court.

For Dr Midson, the NZLJ    has been an excellent opportunity to bring together New Zealand’s brightest legal minds, but also to contribute her own writing on subjects that she’s passionate about.

Before becoming editor of the NZLJ in 2014, Dr Midson was an academic for 20 years researching on criminal law and evidence. She writes a monthly editorial on the NZLJ on a broad range of topics, but she particularly enjoys re-visiting her field of study.

“I’ve just written my February editorial on the Australian case of a diabetic man who drove into a garden bar and caused five fatalities,” Dr Midson comments.

“He’s been charged with culpable driving causing death, and the issue is that he was allegedly ignoring his continuous glucose monitor. We’re asking questions about the nature of liability of people who suffer from conditions like diabetes, and what kind of defence he might have.”

“We’ll also have Professor Warren Brookbanks talking about sentencing for murder when the defendant has a mental impairment which may not meet the insanity definition,” she adds.

When it comes to finding contributors, Dr Midson says there’s no shortage of interest – however, the biggest issue for many practitioners is simply finding the time to write. However, she notes that many people may already have excellent material ready to go, whether it’s an article on a blog, or a graduate-written university paper.

“Often people have things sitting around that they’ve already written, they don’t need to start from scratch,” she says. “We’re also always interested in hearing ideas that people might have for regular contributions.”

With its centenary fast approaching, the NZLJ will also have a chance to look back at its archives and explore what was happening in the legal industry in earlier decades. Dr Midson says the Journal still plays a significant role for academics and practitioners, and that 100 years of publishing is a “significant achievement.”

“I’m always so pleased to hear people telling me they’ve read it – and we always know when an edition is late, because we’ll have people asking about it!” she says.

“Because we publish every month, we’re very up to date and we’re the only journal that publishes in-depth articles on a quick turnaround time. If you want to get the most relevant, up to date analysis on the most current social developments – subscribe to the NZLJ!”

To discover the content featured in New Zealand Law Journal by LexisNexis, download the November 2023 issue for FREE by submitting the form HERE.

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