Dr Katie Elkin has been elected President of the New Zealand Law Society's in-house lawyers section ILANZ following an electronic ballot. She succeeds Ian Hasell.
Dr Elkin is the Associate Commissioner, Legal and Strategic Relations, with the Health and Disability Commissioner in Wellington.
“I have always loved words and the nuance that well-chosen language can bring to both written and spoken expression,” she says when asked what attracted her to the law.
“I wanted to pursue a career that would allow me to further develop my strengths in writing, analysis and public speaking.
“Once I became a lawyer I realised more and more how much I enjoy using these skills to influence and impact real life, in terms of legal outcomes and also with regard to more strategic objectives.
“I value the fact that, as a lawyer, justice, fairness and due process are cornerstones of my professional life.”
At the same time, Dr Elkin really enjoys the sciences. As a result, when she began studying at the University of Otago, she undertook both the medical intermediate and law intermediate courses in her first year.
“I then found it very difficult to choose,” she says.
That is, perhaps, graphically illustrated by the fact that she began at medical school, but then decided to pull out and study law instead, at the same time completing a degree in neuroscience.
“Now, I’m privileged to work in an area which brings these interests together. I really enjoy the law, but I enjoy being involved in the medical and health areas as well,” Dr Elkin says.
Dr Elkin graduated from the University of Otago with her double degree in 2002. She then undertook post graduate study at the University of Melbourne, graduating with a doctorate in 2013.
In fact, she was the inaugural winner of a PhD prize awarded by the Health Services Research Association of Australia and New Zealand.
This was awarded for a published research article arising out of her PhD, a thesis that looks at the role of public protection in the regulation of doctors in Australia and New Zealand, using complaints and disciplinary proceedings as a way of testing whether that objective is being achieved.
Admitted in 2003, she began working for Minter Ellison Rudd Watts as a law clerk that same year, having summer clerked for the firm before that. By the time she left Minter Ellison in 2011, she had been a senior associate in the employment team and litigation team for a number of years.
She then moved to the office of the Health and Disability Commissioner, first as Chief Legal Advisor. Her role then grew, adding responsibilities for research, education and strategic relations to her leadership of the legal function.
Dr Elkin is married to David and they have two boys, aged nine and 12.
Kayaking and tramping with her husband and boys are among her interests. “In December and January just past we spent five weeks touring the North Island with our kayaks, bikes and tramping gear in tow. Highlights were tramping the beautiful Te Paki track that runs along the top of the North Island from Cape Reinga, and kayaking in the stunning Bay of Islands,” she says. As well as keeping fit with a range of sporting activities, she likes to spend time with her friends and family, and her church community.
Dr Elkin has published extensively, speaks regularly at conferences in New Zealand and overseas, and is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Law Faculty of Otago University. Her main research interest is the regulation of professionals.
The association’s new Vice-President is Erin Judge, a senior advisor with the Government Legal Network.