New Zealand Law Society - Music-loving wine-making bachelor thriving in small town South Island

Music-loving wine-making bachelor thriving in small town South Island

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Jaxon Grieve
Jaxon Grieve

Ashburton, once a town folk drove through on their way somewhere else, has experienced a sharp rise in lawyer numbers – mainly young lawyers keen to take advantage of the variety of professional challenges and social advantages a small centre offers.

Latest New Zealand Law Society figures show the number of lawyers in Ashburton has grown from 20 to 37 in five years.

Jaxon James (Jaxon) Grieve
Southport, Queensland, Australia. 
Entry to law
Graduated LLB from Otago University in 2014. Admitted in 2014. 
Solicitor at Russell Moon & Fail, Ashburton. 
Speciality area
Property, commercial, corporate and employment law.

"There's a lot going on here," Russell Moon & Fail solicitor Jaxon Grieve – "I'm a single eligible bachelor" - says.

Jaxon joined Russell Moon & Fail from Otago University in mid-2014.

"There's a lot of work with variety and challenge..."

"There's a lot of business growth and over the years younger lawyers and other young professionals have been attracted to Ashburton…

 "They find it satisfying, there's a lot of work with variety and challenge … It's not all resource consents for farms…

"In provincial areas you are handling just about everything that's going, given a lot of different work and given a lot of autonomy when dealing with clients … There is something of a sink or swim scenario, which is good…"

Jaxon, a member of the Law Society commercial and property committee for Canterbury-Westland, enjoys the strong collegial attitude in Ashburton. "You know who you are talking to, we are all fairly social and usually go for beers on Friday…"

"There's no rivalry until it comes to the Ashburton Legal Practitioners Society ALPS Cup, when any firm can challenge the holders of the cup to an event which could be anything from skiing, tennis, bowls or a quiz night…

"Once the challenge is made all the firms get together and compete … It's a good way to get together, have friendly competition and get bragging rights if you win…

"Russell Moon & Fail held it until February when Argyle Welsh Finnigan took it as a result of a quiz night…"

An accomplished Fender acoustic guitarist and former student band member who dabbles in a bit of 12-string guitar, Jaxon plays anything from the Australian John Butler Trio, UK-based Australian Matt Corby, to blues legends BB King and Albert King.

"UK modern soul band Jungle is a band I enjoy at the moment…"

A keen skier, wake-boarder (that's a kind of snow-board towed behind a speed boat), cyclist and with the tennis season ending, Jaxon is into pre-season rugby.

Like South African-born outdoorsman Greg Martin, of White Fox & Jones Ashburton branch – profiled here in April 2015 - Jaxon says the South Island is so accessible from Ashburton there's no excuse for not "getting out and doing it."

Which Jaxon does in his 2001 "vintage classic Ford Mondeo … It's in good nick, I wouldn't replace it and it does the trick…"

"I like a good book on holiday and I'm a fan of Game of Thrones – the books and television series – it's good entertainment after loads of legal reading…

"Yes, I watch Suits on television but it has no bearing on real legal life … It gives a lot of people who aren't lawyers a fantasy of what it might be until they do a degree and realise its quite different…"

Born in Southport, the central business district of Queensland's Gold Coast, Jaxon's horticultural family moved to Auckland when he was a few months old then settled in Marlborough when he was four.

The family has always been involved in horticulture – mainly vineyards – and Jaxon's father Fin is now vineyard manager at David and Leigh Teece's Mt Beautiful vineyard at Cheviot in North Canterbury.

"Mum and Dad made the shift to Cheviot after my twin brother Casey went to Canterbury University and I went to Otago…"

"Casey is a winemaker, partway through a winemaking course, is in Adelaide making wine and due to return home shortly…

"Casey and I took an unused block in Cheviot and made some Pinot Noir recently … We put in our time to get the land up to scratch, hand picked the grapes, crushed, pressed and fermented it and put it in oak barrels for a year and a half…

"We bottled it last year and it tastes pretty good … It can be a bit sharp to start off with but it's not bad, we are proud of it and it should fetch good money on the black market…

"I'm not sure what attracted me to law … Basically I'm a logical thinker and like solving problems…I wanted to go to Uni but didn't know what I wanted to do … I  ruled out English and maths, did a bit of commerce, economics and finance and enjoyed it but not enough to make a career out of it…

"I was doing law at the same time and enjoyed the logical and proactive nature of it … I enjoyed consistently and constantly learning new things…

"Law is always developing, it is challenging and there's a lot of variation to the job … I ended up that way and quite glad I did…

"I enjoy playing music so if I wasn't a lawyer I would love to be a musician but whether that would result in success is another question…

"Meanwhile, I'm a single man – an eligible bachelor…Did I mention that???"

Jock Anderson has been writing and commenting on New Zealand lawyers and New Zealand's courts for most of his career in journalism. Contact Jock at

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