New Zealand Law Society - Collegiality and cohesion are key to success for the new Canterbury-Westland Branch lineup

Collegiality and cohesion are key to success for the new Canterbury-Westland Branch lineup

The Canterbury- Westland branch of the New Zealand Law Society Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa (Law Society) has welcomed a new President and Vice President, marking a first in the branch's 155-year history for two women lawyers holding the top two elected positions, with just two women Presidents preceding the current appointments. Isabel Mitchell was President in 2000 and the now Justice Rachel Dunningham was President in 2012.

Lana Paul

Rangimārie Lana Denise Paul (Lana Paul), (Te Arawa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa), has been elected as President replacing outgoing President Graeme Riach. Lana was previously the branch's Vice President. Council member Amy Keir steps up from her position as Council member to Vice President. 

The fact that Lana asked to be interviewed together with Amy speaks volumes to the essence of this duo, who present very much as a team. With complementary skills and world views that includes Lana’s life experience of Te Ao Māori, the team is well positioned to take on the challenges and maximise the opportunities presented in the Aotearoa of today and the future. This is  particularly pertinent as the legal profession embarks on an era of transformation.

Taking a "different perspective" to the challenges before her, Lana says being available and approachable is crucial to fostering a tight, collegial network of members who see the Law Society and their local branch representation as fit-for-purpose and a first-port-of-call for the profession.

A self-confessed "people first person," Lana seeks out the good in people. This is evidenced in her work as a youth advocate and involvement in a number of committees both within and outside the profession.

Regarding leadership style, Lana strives to foster collegiality in the teams she works with and embraces a range of perspectives, a quality that she sees great depth in with the current branch and empower them to use their different skills, enabling the collective to achieve more than the single person.

Amy Keir

It is this sense of collegiality that both Lana and Amy see as being vital to continue the development and success of the region. It will deliver the greatest benefit to its members. "Getting more members involved and increasing engagement and participation in events and initiatives will enable members to advance and enrich their own lives, while increasing the value of belonging."

Canterbury Westland branch manager, Colin McDougall adds that the “inclusive leadership style of Lana and Amy has also enabled the development of a close working relationship with the Canterbury Westland branch staff.”

The complementary strengths and skills Amy brings to her role as Vice President make her the perfect 'right-hand person' to Lana. Lana and Amy have already commenced work on initiatives in the well-being space, focusing on reducing burnout and fostering inclusion. Amy says, "Creating a space that welcomes all types while strengthening our shared purpose as lawyers will play an integral part in advancing our branch and members. Networking and education are important elements in bringing this to life."

Lana speaks to "deliberate intentions" as being a hallmark of her leadership style, which, together with Amy's action-based approach, is already being seen through the launch of initiatives such as the Queens’ Tea networking sessions, bringing together junior and senior women lawyers. "Actions that represent the interests and needs of our members together with instilling trust and confidence are at the heart of our intentions," says Lana. 

Lana Paul with daughter Gabrielle and dogs Omega and Aroha

Branch elections held last week also included Rebecca Scott joining as a new branch Councillor. Rebecca Scott is a member of the New Zealand Law Society's standards committee and is the former convenor of the litigation committee of the Canterbury Westland branch of the Law Society.

Rebecca joins, Sophie Goodwin, Nicola Hansen, Sarah Manning, James Pullar, Andrew Riches and Charlene Sell, a Council with considerable experience.

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