New Zealand Law Society - Horseback adventures and dancing strike balancing chord

Horseback adventures and dancing strike balancing chord

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Sarah Moore
Sarah Moore

Melbourne-born social dancer and horsewoman Sarah Moore expected to be in Paris in May on her European sabbatical until the Covid-19 virus got in the way.

“But postponing travel is not the end of the world. And it has been wonderful to be able to continue working from home. Not everyone has had that option,” says Sarah, who recently joined Morris Legal in Auckland as a senior associate.

Sarah came to New Zealand from Australia on her own and says she has built up a good network of friends here through work and her passion for social dancing.

Sarah Louise (Sarah) Moore
Entry to law
Graduated BMus (Hons) from Melbourne University in 2004 and LLB (Hons) from Melbourne University in 2011. Admitted in Australia in 2013 and in New Zealand in 2017.
Senior associate at Morris Legal, Auckland.
Speciality area
Relationship property, trust and estate dispute litigation.

“For the last nine years work has been my primary focus and passion, but I do have some hobbies and I strive to have balance outside work.

“Dancing is a big one. I go to ballet classes and am also learning and competing in Ceroc - a partnered style of modern jive dancing. It is social, easy to pick up, very relaxed and you can dance to any music.

“When we can there are classes all over Auckland most nights and competitions in different parts of New Zealand. There are lots of variations and permutations depending on who is teaching and it can be as low key or as flamboyant as you like. I enjoy having a creative pursuit.”

She also values meditation - “which is part of my routine”.

Music has played a large part in Sarah’s life. “I always played music growing up and enjoyed being involved in music theatre productions and dramatic productions throughout my teens.”

“It was a natural extension to push those skills further and develop expertise as a performer and composer. One of my highlights was at school playing Hamlet in Hamlet. That was definitely a memorable year.”

Sarah was involved in a range of productions through university, and in fringe theatre and operatic productions.

She began studying law after completing her Bachelor of Music and during her law degree worked as a musician while tutoring and lecturing music theory subjects at the Melbourne Conservatorium.

Her music degree from the Melbourne University Conservatorium of Music was a major in composition and as part of that covered a broad scope of writing, one of the highlights of which was writing for a choir.

“I had one of my works – Love and Clutter - performed by the Australian Contemporary Chorale – which does mostly new music from new composers - and broadcast nationally, which was exciting.”

Love and Clutter was based on a book of the same name by French-born Australian artist Mirka Mora – described as “musings on the extraordinary nature of ordinary objects.”

Preferring to use her free time listening to and finding new music than watching television or seeing films, Sarah recently discovered Auckland’s Blackbird Ensemble, whose focus, according to its website, is to present music and ideas that are original, provocative, powerful and memorable.

“They are young and very talented musicians who present a mixture of original works and covers.”

Exploring New Zealand by horse

Her parents, Jan and Ian, both retired teachers who switched to administration, management and marketing, still live in Melbourne. Her mother does voluntary hospital work and her father volunteers with the local asylum seeker resource centre. Her brother Chris lives in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter, where he is an IT worker with ExxonMobil.

A keen horsewoman, Sarah says horse riding and trekking is a good way for her to explore New Zealand. “I will often book in a ride in an interesting place and plan a holiday around that. My most recent was at Glenorchy, the centre piece of a holiday to Queenstown and surrounding areas. Seeing the countryside by horseback is amazing.”

“I have not done traditional sports and prefer long walks and occasional jogs. Living in Parnell there are lots of places to walk.

“I am very excited because I have just bought an apartment in Browns Bay - on the beach front.

Sarah, left, with friend Lauren Taylor, on a trek near Glenorchy
Sarah, left, with friend Lauren Taylor, on a trek near Glenorchy

“I’ve travelled all over Australia, mainly backpacking, and through Asia. My sister-in-law is from Thailand and that’s been a good base to travel from.

“I studied briefly in Geneva and through that explored Germany and small parts of France. I went to the United States with a performing arts group.”

Before joining Morris Legal she was a senior associate in the dispute resolution team at MinterEllisonRuddWatts in Auckland after receiving an offer in 2017 to move from Melbourne to work with then team leader Mark Sandelin. Mr Sandelin is now in Mills Lane Chambers, Auckland.

A relationship property specialist, Sarah has published articles on relationship property law for private business clients, presents seminars to professional advisors on topics such as asset protection and claims against trusts, and is a member of the New Zealand Law Society’s Family Law section.

“The opportunity to join MinterEllisonRuddWatts was the start of an adventure living overseas and as part of that journey I have got to work on some fascinating and complex litigation, concerning claims against trusts and disputes over high value family-owned businesses. That call was a turning point and the start of a whole new chapter. The next exciting role has been starting at Morris Legal.

“Over the years my practice has focused on the financial side rather than the parenting side, which is why we use the term family law less and focus on the relationship property description.

“I enjoy running cases which concern assets in multiple jurisdictions and have had the benefit of working with counsel in the United States, the Netherlands, China, Taiwan and Australia. That’s a part of my practice I really enjoy, unravelling overseas assets, including sometimes tracing hidden assets.”

Sarah previously practised at Melbourne inner city firm Moores – “the name is a coincidence” – with experienced family law practitioner Stephen Winspear.

“During the last two years of my practice at Moores the firm represented a wife in property proceedings concerning high-value family farming enterprises and I had the privilege of instructing Geoffrey Dickson QC in court.

“The team, including those who took carriage of the file after my move to New Zealand, successfully prosecuted claims regarding multi-million dollar hidden assets, delivering a good result for our client.”

Negotiating began as a child

An aunty had a conveyancing and estate practice in Melbourne and Sarah says as a child she was a “tough negotiator” with her parents. “Negotiating has always appealed to me and I love advocating for others. I enjoy getting to learn about my clients and getting to advocate for them fearlessly.”

“I enjoy the opportunity in the work to find elegant and commercial solutions to complex problems and l like finding ways to make complicated or challenging things simpler for clients.

“I don’t read as much as I should and prefer books in relation to meditation, such as Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now.

“I’ve grown up with dogs and it would be lovely to have one but I’m not sure it will be possible in a Browns Bay apartment. I won’t get my own horse because I enjoy borrowing other people’s and giving them back at end of the day.

“A car is a utility, not a passion, and I drive a charcoal-coloured Mazda Demio – a simple car.

“The very grounded and wise Eckhart Tolle would be my first choice of dinner guest. American jazz singer and songwriter Kurt Elling would be a riot, and Jacinda Ardern would be a wonderful guest.

“Dinner would be catered from Parnell restaurant Non Solo Pizza, who do an amazing venison ravioli with a truffle sauce, followed by chocolate lava cake for dessert – and a Central Otago pinot.

“I did go down the path of being a composer so I guess that’s something I would still have a passion for as an alternative career. Music has always been a strong interest.

“But it is more satisfying to have that as a hobby and to be able to be part of the legal profession as my day to day work.

“It’s really the best of both worlds.”

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