One of the first people to be appointed the new title of Senior Counsel is former Labour prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer.
Attorney-General Michael Cullen today announced the appointment of the first round of Senior Counsel.
The title replaces the Queen's Counsel title and can also be given to lawyers working in companies, unlike the QC title which could only be awarded to barristers acting on their own.
Sir Geoffrey has had a distinguished legal academic career and entered politics in 1979.
He was deputy prime minister and attorney-general (1984-1989) and prime minister from August 1989 until September 1990.
Sir Geoffrey was a founding partner of Chen Palmer, public law specialists, until 2005 and he is president of the Law Commission, chairman of the Legislation Advisory and Legislation Design Committees and NZ Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission.
Others to be awarded the SC title include:
* David Heaney established Heaney and Co in 1979 and specialises in the defence of liability claims against territorial and regional authorities, dispute resolution and mediation.
* Murray Gilbert is a litigation partner at Gilbert Walker. Mr Gilbert specialises in commercial litigation with an emphasis on defending negligence claims.
* Jan McCartney joined the independent bar in 1988 and specialises in equity in commercial dealings, fiduciary relationships and trust litigation.
* Jack Hodder became a Law Commissioner in 1986 and joined Chapman Tripp as partner in 1991. Mr Hodder specialises in civil, commercial and public law, involving advice, litigation and arbitration.
* Simon Moore has been Crown Solicitor for Auckland since 1994, leading major criminal trials and is also the public prosecutor for the Pitcairn Islands.
* Christine Gordon is a partner at Meredith Connell where she specialises in criminal law.