The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa is undertaking an independent review of the statutory framework for legal services, including the structure and functions of the Law Society.
Law Society President Tiana Epati said the review was launched in response to the constraints the current Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 places on the Law Society’s ability to be transparent about our complaints process, and to deal with a broad range of unacceptable behaviour, including complaints of sexual harassment and bullying within the profession.
Ms Epati this week announced the seven-member steering group who will develop a terms of reference for the Law Society’s review of the Act.
The steering group will be chaired by Whaimutu Dewes. Mr Dewes, of Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Rangitihi descent, has worked as a lawyer with the Ministry of Justice. He is now a professional director currently involved in the energy, forestry, seafood and agribusiness sectors, with a strong interest in the role of economics and governance in New Zealand and Māori economic development. He is a member of the board of Contact Energy and the Chairman of Ngāti Porou Forests, Aotearoa Fisheries and Sealord Group and Ngāti Porou Seafoods. He is also a member of the Major Outsourced Contracts advisory board to the Department of Corrections.
The other members are former Consumer New Zealand Chief Executive, Sue Chetwin; Otago University Associate Professor, Selene Mize; Chief Legal Adviser at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Ann Brennan; barrister Paul Collins and Wakatū Incorporation Chief Executive, Kerensa Johnston. The Law Society Board’s independent observer, Jason Pemberton, is also on the group.
“We are delighted to have appointed a group of high-calibre individuals with a strong and varied skill base. They bring substantial credibility to this important work,’’ Ms Epati said.
The group’s main task is to provide the Law Society with a comprehensive terms of reference. The terms of reference will then form the basis of the substantive review, she said.
“It’s important to ensure the terms of reference is sufficiently wide and forward looking. The steering group will consult widely with both the profession and stakeholders to produce a terms of reference that identify the main areas of representation and regulation that need to be addressed in the review.’’
Everyone will have an opportunity to respond to the steering group in some way, Ms Epati said. More information about this will be shared soon.
Members of the Steering Group
Whaimutu Dewes (Chair)
Whaimutu Dewes, of Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Rangitihi descent, is constantly reminded of the strictures of his elders to realise the aspirations of the people for the generations that follow. He has an intense interest in the role of economics and governance in New Zealand and Māori economic development. He has worked as a lawyer at the Ministry of Justice and is currently a member of the board of Contact Energy and the Chairman of Ngāti Porou Forests, Aotearoa Fisheries and Sealord Group and Ngāti Porou Seafoods. He is also a member of the Major Outsourced Contracts advisory board to the Department of Corrections. Previous directorships include the Ngāti Porou Holding Company, Housing New Zealand, Television New Zealand and the Advisory Board to the Treasury and to AMP. Whaimutu has also held senior management roles at Fletcher Challenge and the Department of Māori Affairs. In the course of his career, Whaimutu has been instrumental in developments in New Zealand constitutional law, particularly the recognition of property rights of Māori people secured under the Treaty of Waitangi and setting up the governance and execution structures to realise the economic outcomes from that process. He has also negotiated long term and significant joint venture arrangements and now oversees joint ventures between international and Māori companies; in the fields of forestry and carbon sequestration as well as seafood harvest and marketing globally. A strong advocate of the revitalisation of te reo Māori, Whaimutu regards the fact that he and his wife Judy have raised their children to be fluent in both Māori and English to be one of the highlights.
Sue Chetwin is the former Chief Executive of Consumer New Zealand, a role she held for almost 13 years, and is widely recognised for her work as a consumer advocate. Sue joined Consumer New Zealand after more than 25 years in print journalism. At various points in her journalism career, she has been editor of all of the country’s Sunday newspapers. She is a member of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme and on the boards of both the Financial Markets Authority and the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Authority. Sue is currently chairing a review of the .nz domain names space for InternetNZ.
Selene Mize is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Otago in Dunedin. She has a BSc from Northwestern University and a JD from Stanford Law School. Prior to shifting to New Zealand in 1985, she clerked for the US Courts of Appeals in New York, and then practised law in the media litigation department of a major international law firm. Selene is a past fellow of the National Institute for Teaching Ethics and Professionalism, and has trained judges through the Institute for Judicial Studies and mediators for the Samoan Lands and Titles Court. She has served on the Executive Board of the International Association of Legal Ethics, co-organised the Australia-New Zealand Legal Ethics Colloquium in 2012, and has contributed to a number of international working groups on regulating lawyers. She was the New Zealand Law Journal's commentator on Legal Ethics from 2010-2018. Recent publications have focused on the discipline system for lawyers, and the balance between self-regulation and government oversight of the legal profession in New Zealand.
Ann Brennan is Chief Legal Advisor at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, a position she has held since May 2013. She is responsible for the provision of all legal services to MBIE as well as MBIE’s integrity and privacy functions. Ann leads a team of about 90 lawyers and technical specialists who support a broad and diverse business focused on growing the New Zealand economy to provide a better standard of living for all New Zealanders. In addition to general management experience, Ann has considerable governance experience as a Board Secretary, Director and member of a range of Government governance and advisory Boards. Early in her career Ms Brennan was a litigator with Kensington Swan and Chapman Tripp. While working predominantly in the commercial area, Ann has enjoyed a variety of work at all levels. A one-year stint at Westpac as Senior Counsel turned into six years. In 2007 she was appointed General Counsel of the Public Trust where she was a member of the executive team and responsible for the legal, risk, compliance, regulatory affairs and customer quality functions. With over 25% of New Zealand lawyers being employed in-house, Ann believes it is important that this cohort contributes to, and is supported by, the regulatory framework and lawyers’ professional body.
Paul Collins is a barrister at Shortland Chambers, Auckland, with wide experience in areas of professional discipline and regulation in the legal profession. He has prosecuted numerous cases in the Disciplinary Tribunal and has appeared in the Senior Courts in cases involving discipline and regulation of the legal profession. He was a convenor of the National Standards Committee until his nine-year tenure expired and has been involved in Standards Committee and Practice Approval Committee training since the outset of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act. He is a contributing author to Professional Responsibility in New Zealand (LexisNexis) and was consulting editor for The Laws of New Zealand: Lawyers and Conveyancers.
Kerensa Johnston, of Ngāti Tama, Ngāruahine and Ngāti Whāwhakia descent, is the Chief Executive of Wakatū Incorporation. She has worked as a solicitor in the private sector and as a legal academic in the Faculty of Law, University of Auckland, where she specialised in Māori legal development, public law, land law and as a barrister. Kerensa has a BA in History and an LLB from Victoria University and a Master of Laws in International Law (First Class Honours) from the University of Auckland. She is the Chair of the board for Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, the Māori Centre of Research Excellence. She is a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel, ILANZ, the in-house lawyers’ section of the Law Society, and Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa.
Jason Pemberton, Law Society Board independent observer
Jason Pemberton is an independent director, entrepreneur, and multidisciplinary artist based in Ōtautahi Christchurch. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Student Volunteer Army that arose in response to the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes and now manages a small portfolio of governance and teaching roles with charitable, regulatory, and purpose-for-profit organisations. In late 2018, Jason joined the board of the New Zealand Law Society as an independent observer, the first non-lawyer at the governing table in its 150-year history. Jason's professional background includes emergency management, sales, community development, adult education and music, having initially trained in human resource development and psychology. He is a natural communicator and facilitator, described as having an energy that inspires and recharges people.