New Zealand Law Society - Leading litigator and the legend of the leg-chucking Viking

Leading litigator and the legend of the leg-chucking Viking

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Jared Ormsby
Jared Ormsby

Regarded as an expert in complex litigation and appellate work, who has represented some of New Zealand’s biggest organisations, Jared Ormsby may have “the Force” with him – but his name has a grisly history.

Until recently the national managing partner of Christchurch-based firm Wynn Williams, and its senior litigation partner, Jared decided the time was right to go out on his own and established Plymouth Chambers late in 2018.

He chose Plymouth Chambers as a name because his chambers are on the corner of Cashel Mall and Plymouth Lane, and handy to the Christchurch courts.

Jared Vaughan (Jared) Ormsby
Entry to law
Graduated LLB and BCom from Canterbury University in 2003. Admitted in 2003.
Barrister at Plymouth Chambers, Christchurch.
Specialist area
Trusts and estates, public law and civil litigation.

At 40 he has a number of professional accolades to his name, including the 2017 New Zealand Law Awards’ Crowe Howarth managing partner of the year.

He is a member of the New Zealand Law Society culture change taskforce, the New Zealand Bar Association, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, the Institute of Directors and an associate member of AMINZ, amongst others.

Jared grew up on the Gold Coast where his father Vaughan was a company chief executive, and his mother Jill – from Christchurch - worked as a PA and also stayed at home with Jared and his younger brother Luke.

When he was 16 his parents moved to Christchurch and he went to Canterbury University.

“I always thought I would leave Christchurch and go back to Australia but I stayed and started my career here and the rest is history.”

Jared is married to American nurse Stephanie and they have three children – Sarah, who is about to turn 12, Jadon (8) and Timothy (6).

“Stephanie has lived all over the US, including California, Utah, Las Vegas and Texas. We visit family in Australia and the US and enjoy some big road trips in the western US states.”

He has also been to the United Kingdom and when he was 20 moved to Japan, where he lived for two years as a Mormon missionary and learnt to speak Japanese.

“It is an amazing country, the people are great and being immersed in an entirely culture with so much tradition was a wonderful experience. It’s not quite the same when you go for a couple of weeks.

“I do a lot of running – including the Queenstown 10km run and similar on the Gold Coast - and a bit of cycling. I played rugby and was a competitive swimmer in high school in Australia but don’t follow rugby as closely as I used to.”

Mother’s wishes ignored as TV led him into law

“If you want the honest answer I was attracted to law when I was a young kid watching LA Law on TV. I don’t think my mother approved.

“You got the impression all cases were wrapped up in 90 minutes. Watching LA Law I saw they got away with a lot more in court than you can get away with in a courtroom in New Zealand.

“I liked watching the lawyers in the courtroom. My Dad latched on to that and encouraged it. No-one had any particular influence on me but from when I was nine I always wanted to be a lawyer.” A cousin, Aaron Ormsby, is a lawyer on the Gold Coast.

“I loved the idea of being in court. And that’s what I’ve ended up doing, I have become a litigator and still love being in court.

“I love music and have an eclectic taste but don’t play any instruments. I listen to pop music from the 1980s and 90s. My favourite band is U2. And Simply Red and Michael Jackson. My daughter tells me I am hopelessly out of date.

“I’m not an intense non-fiction reader and like escaping into a good fiction book. I read a lot of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, and have read all of his books except the latest which I will get when we go travelling this year.

“I like lawyers like Reacher because he dispenses justice in an extremely effective way.

“Stephanie and I enjoy the movies. Star Wars is my favourite. Harrison Ford is my favourite actor, he is amazingly adaptable. I am a product of the late 70s/early 80s, and it’s wonderful that Star Wars has returned to the big screen again.

“The last films I saw were Transformers and Aquaman. I like Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson.”

The family have no pets because they are largely allergic to them.

Jared drives a Holden Calais. “It’s big enough for me - I am 6 ft 6ins.”

“Last Christmas we went to Tahunanui Beach in Nelson, camping as a family. We actually camp in tents with sleeping bags. And we love Queenstown.”

The time was right to make a change

A career highlight was representing Ngāi Tahu at the Privy Council, where he successfully defended an appeal involving its tribal boundaries in the South Island.

“It was wonderful experience interacting with the law lords. They were extremely kind and gracious and I learned a lot. They treated us pretty well.”

After 16 years at Wynn Williams, including 10 years on the board and managing partner from 2012 to 2018, Jared felt the time was right for him to go on his own.

“It was the right time and I was ready for a change. I had been chair and managing partner for a long time and I wanted to focus more on the law.

“I still have a real interest in law firm management, and do some partnership retreats for other firms. But I wanted to focus back on my advocacy and being a barrister in court. When you are managing partner of a large law firm it consumes quite a lot of your time.”

A devoted Star Wars fan, he says any alternative career would have to involve a starring role in one of the Star Wars remakes. “I can’t be Luke Skywalker because Mark Hamill is still alive, and I do not want to be Chewbacca. I wouldn’t want to wear that costume all day.”

Closely involved with his church, Jared is a marriage celebrant and married a couple earlier this month.

But what about that piece of grisly history???

It’s in his name – Ormsby.

“I can’t claim any Scottish ancestry, but there is the Viking legend of the original Ormsby – or Orm, as he was known – who, during a fierce sea battle with Scots, threw his severed leg ashore on to Scottish soil to claim that place – known as Ormsby - for himself.”

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