New Zealand Law Society - NEW IN THE LAW: Holly Tunstall, Woodward Chrisp, Gisborne

NEW IN THE LAW: Holly Tunstall, Woodward Chrisp, Gisborne

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Holly Tunstall
Holly Tunstall

A Wellington native, Holly Tunstall grew up with her family in Titahi Bay in Porirua.

"I have two older sisters, each of whom have two daughters. I also have a large extended family whom I am very close with also.

Holly now works as a solicitor with Gisborne law firm Woodward Chrisp.

When did you study and graduate?

"I first studied a bachelor of commerce at Victoria University of Wellington. I then tried my hand at law and fell in love with it. I completed my final year at Canterbury University and was admitted to the Bar in 2015.

"At the end of my studies, I worked as a Registrar at the Christchurch District Court while I completed my professionals studies."

Holly was admitted to the Bar in 2015 but, before she entered the work force as a lawyer, she spent several months backpacking around Asia and then South America. "I was lucky enough to meet up with my best friend Emma Nicol (also a lawyer) and together we went to the Olympics in Rio and climbed to the top of Machu Picchu together."

Why did you want to become a lawyer?

"I still vividly remember sitting in my first LAWS121 lecture with Grant Morris. Prior to that, I had no idea nor any expectations of where those lectures would take me. I soon found the law to be not only interesting but also intellectually stimulating.

"I particularly enjoyed how law constantly challenges me to think outside the box. Since joining Woodward Chrisp, I am constantly reminded of the important role a defence lawyer plays in the criminal justice system, and it is rewarding to see the real impact our work has for our clients."

What was your favourite law subject at university?

"Funnily enough, I particularly enjoyed studying criminal law, advanced criminal law and employment law."

After finishing your studies, did you find the job matched the expectations you had in law school? Is there anything you wish you had learnt in law school that wasn't covered?

"University provided me with the theoretical knowledge, but the majority of my learning has come from hands-on experience in the workplace.

"Throughout university, I volunteered at the Whitireia Community Law Centre, and then worked for a local barrister, both of which provided me with the necessary practical skills to enter the workforce."

Are there any issues currently facing the legal profession/young lawyers that you would like to highlight?

"In my mind, there are several issues facing the legal profession today.

"First and foremost is the over-representation of Māori in the criminal justice system.  As a young Māori woman, but also a lawyer, it is disheartening to go to court and see so many Māori defendants.

"Secondly, the justice system is severely underfunded. This is demonstrated by the excessive wait times between a defendant being charged and reaching trial. In addition, the media have recently highlighted situations where young persons have been held in Police cells when there are no beds available at youth facilities. This is simply unacceptable and greater funding needs to be made available."

Are there any changes have you noticed younger lawyers are bringing to the law profession?

"Young lawyers bring a fresh perspective to the legal profession. In my experience, I've noticed young lawyers are ambitious, forward thinking and open minded. I think the Young Professional's meetings are an excellent example of this."

What do you like to do to disengage from a long day at work?

"A few years ago, I took up running and have never looked back. I've completed a number of races, most recently the Hawkes Bay half marathon and the Wellington half marathon, and in October the Gisborne marathon.

This year I've also taken up swimming and cycling. I'm currently training for my first triathlon this December, the Iron Māori Triathlon in Hawkes Bay."

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