Two current members of the New Zealand Law Society Board are standing for election as the next New Zealand Law Society President. The closing date for nominations is 23 September.
The term of current President Kathryn Beck ends at the Law Society Council’s annual meeting in April 2019. The new President will be elected at the Council’s mid-term meeting on 24 October 2018. The President-elect will receive guidance and training until assuming office in April 2019.
Confirmed as standing for election are Tiana Epati and Nerissa Barber.
Tiana Epati is currently Vice-President, Central North Island and a partner with Gisborne law firm Rishworth Wall & Mathieson. She was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in September 2000 after graduating from Auckland University with a BA in philosophy and history and an LLB. She spent four years as a Crown prosecutor with Meredith Connell before moving to Wellington to work as a Crown prosecutor with Luke Cunningham Clere and, on a one-year fixed term contract, in the public law team at Izard Weston.
Ms Epati moved to the Crown Law Office in 2008 to work in the criminal law team before moving to Gisborne in 2012, where she has worked as a criminal defence lawyer with Rishworth Wall & Mathieson. She was President of the Law Society’s Gisborne branch from 2014 to 2016 and was elected Vice-President, Central North Island in April 2016.
Nerissa Barber is serving her third term on the Law Society's Board as Vice-President, Wellington. She has a background in governance, regulatory systems and organisational change. Ms Barber commenced her career in banking and finance and litigation at Simpson Grierson, then joined the Crown Office working in constitutional law. She moved to the private sector, before re-joining the public sector at the State Services Commission. Ms Barber established the legal team at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, focusing on a wide variety of legal areas, including public law, Maori legal issues, and overseeing the legislation of 11 Crown entities.
Ms Barber has served four terms as Wellington Branch President, as a member of the Law Society's Services Delivery Group and national law reform committee in Human Rights. She re-established the Wellington Women in Law Committee and served as Convenor of the Legal Assistance Committee, which works with community law centres.
The President is elected by the Law Society Council, which comprises the President and four Vice-Presidents, a representative of each of the Law Society’s 13 branches, a representative of each of the three sections, and a representative from each of the New Zealand Bar Association and Large Law Firms Group Ltd.
Branches with more than 500 members receive more than one vote under a formula based on the number of lawyers practising within that branch. At the October 2018 election this will mean Auckland receives most votes, followed by Wellington, then Canterbury-Westland and then Waikato Bay of Plenty. All other branches will have one vote, along with each section, the NZBA and Large Law Firms Group Ltd. A majority of the total votes and the support of the representatives of at least four branches is required to be elected. Board members may not vote in the election.