New Zealand Law Society - Family Litigation Intensive Programme

Family Litigation Intensive Programme

Time: 8.30am-4.15pm

Limited to 12-15 participants and runs concurrent to the main conference programme so cannot register for both programmes.

Participants will be given a fact pattern of a Care of Children Act dispute and will be asked to use this to undertake tasks involving examination in chief, cross examination, and submissions.

The aim is to give participants practical experience in undertaking a hearing in the family jurisdiction, however many of the skills and techniques are also transferable to the Criminal jurisdiction.

Enrolments are restricted to 12-15 practitioners and aimed at new practi­tioners with 0-5 years’ experience. The course will run for most of the day during the conference with a break for lunch.

8:30am Registration Opens

Conference opening and welcome: Richard Smith, Southland Branch President
NZLS Update: Frazer Barton, NZLS President
Keynote: Melanie Reid – Peter Ellis: The creche case & me
Closing comments: Dale Lloyd, Otago Branch President

11.00am Morning Tea

 Family litigation intensive commences

1:30pm Lunch 

 Family litigation intensive continues

4:15pm Afternoon Tea

Cocktails and dinner at Andersons Park

Faculty Members

Judge Farnan 

Her Honour Judge Farnan was sworn in as a District Court Judge on 16 April 2015, and was appointed to the Invercargill District Court. Judge holds warrants in the Youth Court, Family Court, District Court, including a Jury warrant. Prior to appointment to the Bench, Judge Farnan was a partner in a Dunedin law firm. She undertook trial work, as well as appearances in the Family and Youth Courts, representing a range of clients. Judge Farnan particularly enjoyed her appointments as Lawyer for Child and representing clients under the Protection of Personal & Property Rights Act 1988 and Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation) Acts 2003. 

Dr Louise Smith 

Dr Louise Smith is a clinical psychologist who holds both a doctorate in psychology and a post-graduate diploma in clinical psychology. She has been a specialist report writer for the Family Court since 1994 and gives evidence in the Auckland, Dunedin, and Invercargill courts. She has presented at previous Law Society trainings and participates in the panels for reviews and selection of family court lawyers. She looks forward to contributing some ideas as to what might work and not work when cross examining expert witnesses, and to engaging in the experiential practice in cross examination during the seminar. 

Lauren Pegg 

Lauren has been in practice in Dunedin for 16 years and is currently a Family Law Barrister. Her practice includes all aspects of the Family Court’s jurisdiction. She is a lawyer for child and has co-organised the annual Otago lawyer for child forum since 2015. Lauren is currently the Deputy Chair of the New Zealand Law Society Family Law Section Executive.  

Bill Dawkins 

Bill was admitted in 1982 and has practised primarily as a criminal lawyer, but also undertaking Family Court work which includes all aspects relating to the future care arrangements of children, and the Division of Relationship Property. Bill has been a Youth Advocate since the Youth Advocate Scheme came into force about 28 years' ago, and before then appeared in the Children's Court. For four years Bill was a faculty member of the Litigation Skills Program and in earlier years was on the Legal Aid Committee. He has undertaken several Jury Trials in the High and District Courts. 

Merrin Gill 

Merrin was admitted in 1996 and have appeared in the Family Court regularly throughout her career. She has been Lawyer for Child for 20 years and is a member of the Southland Standards Committee. 


Richard Smith 

Richard was admitted to the bar in 2005. He is a barrister at Montrose Chambers, Invercargill, practising in the areas of criminal and family litigation. Richard is President of the Southland branch of the New Zealand Law Society and has been on Council since 2016. He is also an executive committee member of the Family Law Section of the New Zealand Law Society. 

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