New Zealand Law Society - Women's Advisory Panel

Women's Advisory Panel

Established in 2015, the Women’s Advisory Panel has developed several key initiatives including:

  • launching the Gender Equality Charter that currently has 142 signatories and covers almost a quarter of the profession
  • free unconscious bias training for the legal community
  • embedding unconscious bias training at key stages of legal careers

Immediate past members of the panel are:

  • Anita Chan
  • David Campbell
  • Tiana Epati
  • Chris Moore

The Women’s Advisory Panel is calling for four new members.  We are currently seeking expressions of interest from lawyers who are interested in joining the panel for the next three years.

Ann Brennan

Ann Brennan
Ann Brennan, Chief Legal Advisor, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Ms Brennan is Chief Legal Advisor at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, a position she has held since May 2013.

At MBIE she leads a talented and committed team of about 70 lawyers and technical specialists who support a fascinating and varied business focused on growing the New Zealand economy to provide a better standard of living for all New Zealanders. She is a member of the Government Legal Network Advisory Board.

Early in her career Ms Brennan was a litigator with Kensington Swan and Chapman Tripp. She counts herself fortunate that this was a time where it was possible to cut your teeth on a wide range of litigation. While working predominantly in the commercial area Ann has enjoyed a variety of work at all levels, including employment, medical, insurance, corporate and financial services.

Over time Ms Brennan's focus became more commercial and a one-year stint at Westpac as Senior Counsel turned into six years. In 2007 she was appointed General Counsel of Public Trust where she was a member of the executive team and responsible for the legal, risk, compliance, regulatory affairs and customer quality functions. She was also Board Secretary and director of a number of subsidiaries.

Married to a lawyer, Ann is mother to twins studying law. She encourages full participation in the legal workforce and has been a regular presenter at events promoting diversity.

Stephanie Mann

Stephanie Mann
Stephanie Mann

A senior solicitor with Duncan Cotterill in Christchurch, Ms Mann practises in civil litigation. Her main areas are insurance, estates, trusts and health and safety. Ms Mann joined Duncan Cotterill in September last year.

In her final year at the University of Canterbury, Ms Mann worked one day a week at Young Hunter in Christchurch. After graduating with an LLB and B Sc in psychology in 2010, she joined the firm full time. A product of her time, Ms Mann graduated in a tent in Ilam Field as the town hall was closed after the September 2010 earthquake. Following the February 2011 earthquake Ms Mann completed her professionals through a Wellington-based course and her admission ceremony was at the Riccarton Racecourse as the courts were still closed.

Ms Mann enjoys the balancing act needed when working towards common sense solutions to legal issues with the information that is available.

Since she started practising Ms Mann has been involved with Young Lawyers’ Committee in the Law Society’s Canterbury-Westland branch, as well as being the convenor of the committee in previous years. Stephanie was also on the winning team in the committee’s Canterbury-Westland mooting competition last year. It was her work through that committee which led to Stephanie being asked to join the Women’s Advisory Panel.

Phillipa Muir

Ms Muir is a partner at Simpson Grierson in Auckland, where she heads the employment law group. She acts for many of New Zealand's largest employers and advises on both contentious and non-contentious matters.

In both 2012 and 2014, Ms Muir won the Best in Workplace Relations Award at the Australasian Women in Business Awards.

For a number of years Ms Muir has been recognised internationally as a leading lawyer by Asia Pacific Legal 500, Employment; Chambers Asia-Pacific, Employment; and The International Who's Who, Legal Labour & Employment/Pensions and Benefits.

A board member of Global Employment Law Alliance, Ms Muir also chairs both the Fletcher Building Employee Educational Fund and Auckland Writers Festival and she is on the Board of Trustees of Auckland Grammar School.

She is a guest lecturer on employment law at Auckland University's Law Faculty, and is a co-author of the Thomson Reuters published legal texts Employment Law and Recruitment and Termination. Ms Muir is married with two sons.

Liesle Theron

Liesle Theron
Liesle Theron

The convenor of the Law Society's Law Reform Committee, Ms Theron has 20 years’ experience as an advisor and litigator across a range of fields.

After completing her BA at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa and her LLB at Victoria University, Ms Theron's first legal job was as a solicitor at Chapman Tripp.

As the 2002 Ethel Benjamin Scholar and a Fulbright Scholar, she studied at New York University, graduating with an LLM in 2003. While in New York, Ms Theron also worked as an intern at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Early Warning and Contingency Planning Unit.

After she returned to New Zealand, she worked briefly as in-house counsel, before joining Thorndon Chambers where she worked as a barrister for 10 years. In 2014 she moved to Meredith Connell to help set up their Wellington office. She subsequently moved into the public sector, working as Principal Legal Advisor for the Social Investment Agency. She has six children and step-children, none of whom are lawyers (yet).

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