What Does a Justice Advisor Do?

Mary McMahon

A justice advisor assists officials with the implementation and maintenance of an effective justice system. Many work in international relations to help developing and transitioning countries with legal and ethical issues that may arise. Other positions may be available with individual government agencies seeking assistance with various aspects of criminal justice and law enforcement. People may come to careers in this field from a background in law enforcement and policing or criminal law.

A justice advisor aids in creating or maintaining a fair and effective system of justice.
A justice advisor aids in creating or maintaining a fair and effective system of justice.

Officials may seek assistance from a justice advisor when they want to implement new policies or make radical changes to existing policy. The advisor can meet with them to discuss the desired end goal and the best policy decisions to promote that goal. Other considerations may include human rights standards and the models used in other justice systems, which a governmental agency might want to use as a blueprint for its own activities. Familiarity with international law and legal standards can be very important in these settings.

Law enforcement agencies can work with a justice advisor to improve evidence collection, handling of suspects, and other practices. This can increase the quality of policing services and generate more usable evidence to up conviction rates in courts. Justice advisors can also be helpful in planning for major events or responding to emergencies. Police may want to know, for example, what their scope of authority is in a civil emergency, and an experienced consultant can help define this.

Courts and attorneys may utilize justice advisors as well. Countries overhauling their prosecutorial systems or developing them from scratch, for example, can request a justice advisor to help them. The work can involve recommendations on policy and procedure, advice on handling specific legal issues, and discussions about relevant ethics. Analysis can also provide important information to help courts provide balanced and fair trials to citizens; a justice advisor might note, for example, disparities in outcomes that suggest prejudice may be playing a role in the legal system.

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Law firms can provide advisors by request. They usually hire attorneys with extensive experience in the criminal justice system for this work. Law enforcement agencies and organizations also work with justice advisors, and may recruit more heavily from populations of people with policing experience. Some governments provide them as a courtesy to allies and host nations interested in improving their justice system, and may also dispatch them internally to handle specific domestic issues like corrupt courts or judges.

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