New Zealand Law Society - Lawyers recognised for excellence at In-house Lawyer awards

Lawyers recognised for excellence at In-house Lawyer awards

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The awards recognising leadership and excellence for in-house legal services have been held, and in a rare situation a contestant took out two categories.

Seven winners of the annual ILANZ In-house Lawyer Awards were announced at the 30th ILANZ Conference Gala Dinner on 26 May in Rotorua, following the national ILANZ conference.

The In-house Lawyers Association of New Zealand is a section of the New Zealand Law Society.

New Zealand has more than 2,800 in-house lawyers, who comprise 22% of all lawyers. In-house lawyers are employed by businesses or government and other agencies to provide in-house legal advice and other related legal services.

ILANZ President Erin Judge says In-house lawyers make an outstanding contribution to the businesses and teams they work in.

“In-house lawyers not only provide advice to their employer on crucial legal matters but as demonstrated by our award winners, they also have the opportunity to contribute to and influence the development of key organisational objectives,” she says.   

The winners in each of the ILANZ Awards categories receive scholarship packages that go towards personal training and development for themselves, their team or their community organisation.

This year, in an extraordinary achievement, Helen Davidson General Counsel & Complaints Manager for IPENZ (Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand) has won two of the award categories.

Artemis Executive Recruitment In-House Innovation Award & Greenwood Roche Private Sector In-House Lawyer of the Year Award
Helen Davidson, General Counsel & Complaints Manager, IPENZ

Scholarship package of $5,000 for each award

Helen Davidson is the General Counsel & Complaints Manager for the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand. Nominated by IPENZ Chief Executive, Susan Freeman-Greene, she commended the impact of Helen’s innovative work.

“Helen has transformed our complaints and disciplinary process in just over a year. The impact has been significant – in re-engineering what was a very noisy pain point for our members she has earnt the respect and admiration of the profession.  It is thrilling that she has been recognised by the legal profession for the both the changes and for her General Counsel work,” she says.

Former President of IPENZ, Andrew Read, says the implications of the changes for IPENZ, and for the profession, have been dramatic.  “The changes underpin IPENZ’s new strategic direction and the organisation is now seen as really ‘walking the talk’ – a fundamental requirement for a representative body,” he says.

AUT Law School Community Contribution Award

Eva Hartshorn-Sanders, National Women's Officer & Public Lawyer, PPTA, for her work with the National Council of Women of New Zealand.

Donation of $5,000 to be split between the National Council of Women of New Zealand and the New Horizon’s for Women Trust for their ‘inspiring women fund’

Eva Hartshorn-Sanders, an in-house lawyer for the PPTA, was nominated by the President of the National Council of Women of New Zealand, Rae Duff.

She says Eva has been a key player in making submissions on issues impacting women and children in New Zealand.

“She has made a valuable contribution to women in Aotearoa New Zealand through her voluntary work for NCWNZ. She has been a leader, an advocate and a tireless worker,” says Rae Duff.  

She says Eva made this donation to NCWNZ to ensure the work she has been involved in continues and she also wishes to support their priority project on changing the NZ culture to reduce gender inequality.  The balance of the award will be given to the New Horizon’s for Women Trust for their ‘inspiring women fund’.

MAS Young In-House Lawyer of the Year Award

Honourable mentions: Emily Acland, NZ Senior Corporate Counsel, Vocus Group& Michael Green, Senior Legal Counsel, Xero
Winner: Mike Wakefield, Senior Solicitor – Regulatory, Auckland Council

Scholarship package of $5,000

Mike Wakefield is Senior Solicitor – Regulatory at Auckland Council where, since May last year, he has had sole responsibility for the day-to-day management of all legal matters associated with the development, adoption and implementation of the Auckland Unitary Plan.

Mike coordinates a “large team of external providers across four law firms, provides support to senior counsel in contentious High Court proceedings and liaises with Council’s elected members,” says James Hassall, Director Legal and Risk (Acting), Auckland Council.

Buddle Findlay Public Sector In-House Lawyer of the Year Award
Tracey Peters, Senior Solicitor, Te Puni Kōkiri

Scholarship package of $2,500

Tracey Peters is a Senior Solicitor at Te Puni Kōkiri.

“Tracey’s work always involves the more complex and comprehensive projects, required at short notice. The significant piece of work that Tracey took a leadership role in was the gifting of tukutuku panels to the United Nations. Tracey’s work on the Tukutuku panels has influenced a big and important change in indigenous intellectual property rights and mātauranga Māori on an international stage,” says Marama Broughton, Solicitor, Te Puni Kōkiri.

Buddle Findlay Public Sector In-House Lawyer of the Year Award

Jane Small, Managing Counsel (Planning & Network Operations), New Zealand Transport Agency

Scholarship package of $2,500

Jane Small is Managing Counsel (Planning & Network Operations), NZTA. Jane was nominated by NZTA’s Chief Legal Counsel, Dave Whiteridge.

“Jane has consistently delivered outstanding results in the past 12 months, by leading or contributing to projects that are not only critical to the Agency achieving its goals, but also contribute to important social, environmental and economic outcomes for New Zealand,” says Dave Whiteridge.

Chapman Tripp In-House Team of the Year Award

Honourable mention: Civil Aviation Authority In-house Legal Team, Civil Aviation Authority

Winner: Spark New Zealand Legal Team, Spark New Zealand

Scholarship package of $5,000

“Being the in-house legal team for one of New Zealand’s largest and most rapidly evolving digital businesses means we have had to think differently about how we deliver legal services. We are a full service team and the scope of activity we support is constantly changing so we have proactively focussed on pioneering innovative legal solutions and efficiently delivering best in class legal services to enable Spark to achieve its business objectives,” says Spark General Counsel, Melissa Anastasiou.

“The Spark Legal Team proactively engage in managing legal issues and risks both with external counsel and the wider business, and demonstrate innovation and commitment to best practice under difficult deadlines for a number of complex legal issues," says Pip Greenwood, Partner at Russell McVeagh.