Historical Information

Origins of the Crown Law Office

The Crown Law Office was formed to provide legal and administrative support to the Solicitor-General. Its work was mainly advisory, although it did include the drafting of legislation until a separate Law Drafting Office was formed in 1907. Following the appointment of Mr John W Salmond as Solicitor-General in 1910, all Crown legal work and the conduct of criminal prosecutions in Wellington became the responsibility of the Office. The Law Drafting Office ceased to be the responsibility of the Solicitor-General in 1920 when it was given statutory recognition and became what is now known as the Parliamentary Counsel Office.

Crown Solicitor network

The 1920's saw the beginning of the Crown Solicitor network. When Mr P S K Macassey resigned from the Crown Law Office to enter private practice he was allowed to continue his Wellington based criminal prosecution work. Some years later a similar arrangement was made with Mr V R S Meredith QC, (later Sir Vincent Meredith), who became the Crown Solicitor in Auckland.


Today, the Crown Law Office operates as a government department with the Solicitor-General as its Chief Executive. The Office has more than 70 legal staff and a similar number of support staff. The scope and range of legal work undertaken has expanded to meet the full range of activities undertaken by the government in commercial, economic and social areas.