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Jennifer Lynch, 1950 – 2006

by Ivan Kwok

Jennifer left school with her only qualification being School Certificate English. As an adult student with children she went back to College and later to Victoria University where she graduated with a LLB (Honours).

Following graduation Jennifer joined the Treasury where she spent the entire 18 years of her professional career. After spending a short time in the policy area Jennifer joined the legal section where notwithstanding her lack of experience she quickly became an extremely valuable member of the team.

The late 1980s was a period of great change in the public sector and the Treasury legal section was involved in corporatisations, asset sales and rescues. Jennifer managed in particular the legal work around the legislation for the setting up of Crown Research Institutes and its implementations. In relation to asset sales Jennifer played a major role in the sale of New Zealand Rail, the businesses of Works Corporation, and the Crown’s Forests. When the wheel turned full circle on asset sales Jennifer was involved in the purchase by the Crown of the Auckland rail network.

On the retirement of the Treasury Solicitor (Alistair Treadwell) in 1993, Jennifer began to concentrate on the legal work for the New Zealand Debt Management Office which carries out all of the New Zealand Government’s offshore borrowing and associated hedging activity. Jennifer in short-time became the expert in this somewhat esoteric area of the law and became the acknowledged legal expert and an essential part of the New Zealand Debt Management team. A particular achievement was the negotiation and implementation of probably the first Master Swap agreement in New Zealand.

More recently, Jennifer was closely involved in the Crown Entities legislation and the major amendment to the Public Finance Act.

In her professional life outside of Treasury Jennifer was a committee member of the Corporate Lawyers Association of New Zealand (CLANZ) and was the organiser of the CLANZ very successful annual conference of 2004 which was held in Napier. She also represented CLANZ at international conferences. In addition Jennifer represented Corporate and Government lawyers on the Wellington District Law Society where she represented her constituency with vigour and tenacity.

Notwithstanding her illness over the last few years Jennifer found the enthusiasm and energy to instigate the setting up of the Chief Legal Advisors to Government forum and Public Sector Law NZ (PS Law NZ) which is a public sector law central database. These initiatives were a concrete example of Jennifer’s belief that senior practitioners had a duty to assist those less experienced and to improve the quality and consistency of legal advice to the Government.

Jennifer was a very good lawyer with great judgement and the ability to quickly get to the heart of a problem and to find and implement practical solutions. She had a passion for justice, hated anything which was unfair and would also do her best to readdress the balance.

Above all Jennifer was a real character, very direct with a great sense of humour, fantastic fashion sense and loads of fun. She was a loved work colleague and friend. With Jennifer’s death, for all of us who knew her the world is now a sadder and duller place.

by Judge Carrie Wainwright

I knew Jennifer Lynch primarily as a friend rather than as a lawyer, although we did work together for a while at the Treasury in the early ’90s. People thought highly of her as a lawyer, but my great regard for her was as a friend.

I met her when I was her tutor in Legal System at Victoria University in about 1983, little realising what an achievement it had been for her to get there. Adversity must have helped her with the acquisition of wisdom. Certainly, I came to rely on her particular insight into things, and her unrelenting frankness in revealing that insight.

Jennifer did not always take the easy, conventional road. She was never satisfied with the version of yourself that you had neatly fashioned for public consumption. She looked into the heart of things, and probed, and challenged, and made you reconsider and re-evaluate. Sometimes, she told you things you didn’t really want to hear. But her loyalty and support were unstinting, and you always knew that behind her challenges lay love. And she made you laugh.

In recent years, Jennifer explored her spiritual side, becoming a Buddhist. She committed herself to this new path with her characteristic energy and relish. I loved hearing about what she had learned, and the journey she was on! And did she know something? Because surely her Buddhist faith enabled her to achieve what she referred to in her last weeks as her perfect death. Seeing her face mortality in the way she did was an amazing experience. In this, as in so many other things, Jennifer was my inspiration.

Jennifer was too young to die. She had so much more to offer. Already, I miss her dreadfully. But I know that she would want us all just to be getting on with it, and not making a fuss. So I guess that’s what we’ll do, wiser and warmer for having been her friend.

These obituaries were first published in Council Brief, May 2006.

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Last updated on the 11th May 2012