Emma Priest Barrister

Criminal defence work is a privilege and I feel grateful for meeting each and every one of my clients and the opportunity to help them during a very challenging and stressful time of their lives. I have great respect for the trust they place in me. I admire their willingness to share their lives and tell their stories.

Here is my story.

I was sent to board at Wanganui Collegiate school after largely opting out of public secondary school – challenging the system and rules which didn’t make sense to me.  What I learned from boarding school was the need to work within the system to get what you want. It was a huge life lesson for me and while I push boundaries hard now, I know when to stop. I’m now commonly known as “Priesty” around the Courts. It is a throwback from my boarding school days when it was surnames only.

When I got to university, I knew I wanted to be a professional that helped people. I thought I was going to get a degree in sociology and English and move into a career in criminology.  Every one loves the TV show ‘Criminal Minds’ right?  I got into law because I wanted Friday’s off at University- it’s a true story. Well one paper and I was hooked- my BA (sociology and English) became a BA (psychology) / LLB. I transferred to Auckland University to the law school to finish my degree. 

After finishing law school I was unsure whether to become a psychologist or a lawyer. I loved the law and knew I’d work within it, but the question was in what capacity. After some reflection, I decided on law, did my legal professionals course and an LLM focusing on criminal law.

After spending 18 months in general practice, in September 2001 I was approached and joined Meredith Connell, the Crown Solicitors Office in Auckland. I was a Senior Prosecutor there from 2007 and became an Associate of the firm from 2009. It was an incredible time where I learned my craft from some of the most remarkable advocates in New Zealand, and prosecuted the most serious of crime.

In September 2013, I joined the Public Defence Service where I represented legally-aided clients, before commencing my own practice in February 2016. I have not looked back. I love it and strive to be one of the best criminal lawyers in New Zealand. Full details of my career are on LinkedIn.

As part of my contribution to the law and to society, I have developed The Good Lawyer platform.