Borrin Foundation Justice Fellow Elizabeth Hall

Elizabeth Hall is a Borrin Foundation Justice Fellow. She is recording the oral history of pioneering women defence lawyers so we can better understand the dynamics of our justice system and inspire the next generation of women defence lawyers.

Borrin Foundation Justice Fellowship

Elizabeth’s plan

Elizabeth will record the experiences of women defence lawyers in Aotearoa New Zealand. The work will explore the reality of the challenges faced by women criminal defence lawyers and the barriers (spoken and unspoken) to accuracy in our courtrooms and to achieving justice. The project will explore women’s experiences of court work, the complexity of the work undertaken daily by women defence lawyers, and what access to justice really means.. A key enquiry will be the insights into our criminal justice system from the women working at the very heart of it. Elizabeth will record the oral history of pioneering defence lawyers so we can better understand the dynamics of our justice system and inspire the next generation of defence lawyers.

This project will play a key part in educating and awakening, to expose the reality of criminal law and some of what happens in courtrooms and prisons across our country every day, it will address the barriers to justice in a frank and compelling oral history, written and visual work that will be accessible to lawyers and lay people alike and will be available for years to follow.


About Elizabeth 

Elizabeth Hall specialises in criminal law and is a defence lawyer. A graduate of Otago University (LLb and BA (Honours – Psychology) she was admitted to the Bar in 1998 and has appeared in all courts within NZ jurisdiction including the Privy Council and the Supreme Court.

A tenacious advocate, Elizabeth has represented people charged with every manner of criminal charge, but specialises in serious criminal allegations (those carrying life imprisonment). Elizabeth has successfully assisted the appeal courts in reversing miscarriages of Justice – overturning murder, sexual violation, and serious assault convictions. She is routinely asked by the Courts to provide assistance and has acted as intervenor in two of the most influential cases in modern criminal law (Zhang and Moses). Elizabeth is known for her unfailing commitment to the law and to the development of a strong criminal defence bar.

​​Elizabeth has long been involved in the development of the profession – through her involvement with District Law Societies, the New Zealand Law Society, the New Zealand Bar Association, and the Criminal Bar Association.  In 2012 Elizabeth was the recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medallion to recognise an aspect of her volunteer work.  In 2018 Elizabeth conducted an inquiry into bullying and harassment in the legal profession. Always committed to supporting defence lawyers in their uniquely challenging work Elizabeth is the co-founder of Te Matakahi – the Defence Lawyers Association (founded 2020).


Grant Amount

$119,273 for 10 months in 2022

“This project would not have been possible without the practical and financial investment of the Borrin Foundation which has allowed me to step away from my practise to record and explore the stories of women who are working as defence lawyers at the very heart of our criminal justice system.”

Elizabeth Hall