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Shirley Anne Parr, 1928 – 2002

Wellington lawyer Shirley Parr died on 1 March 2002, just one year short of her goal of 50 years in practice. After fighting for equal recognition while studying law at Victoria University, including the right to attend the law students’ annual dinner, Shirley Robson (as she was then) was admitted in 1953.

While she initially had no trouble finding work in Wellington, the provincial legal community in Taranaki and Southland were less receptive when she lived there after marrying in 1957.

Returning to Wellington in 1969, she worked for Hornblow Cooper Carren & Co before setting up practice on her own account in Karori in 1976 – a practice she was still operating when she died.

She worked to dismantle the barriers women faced in studying and practising law, serving on the local women lawyers committee. Her efforts were recognised with the award of a suffrage centennial medal in 1993, but at least as rewarding must have been the opportunity of nominating her daughter, Judith Parr (who now works in London) for admission in 1985. This was the first time a woman had moved her own daughter’s admission in Wellington and only the second time in New Zealand.

Shirley Parr also served on Wellington District Law Society’s property law committee and outside the law was active in the Chronic Obstructive Respiratory Disease Society and defensive driving.

This obituary was first published in LawTalk 580, 15 April 2002, page 13.

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Last updated on the 11th May 2012