New Zealand Law Society - New in the Law: Jonathan Sutton, Law Society Legal Standards Officer

New in the Law: Jonathan Sutton, Law Society Legal Standards Officer

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Jonathan Sutton
Jonathan Sutton

Born in Wellington, Jonathan Sutton attended Otago University and studied law.

After finishing, instead of pursuing work as a lawyer, he applied his law degree to another area of the legal profession; he works for the Lawyers Complaints Service at the national office of the New Zealand Law Society.

Could you share a bit about yourself

I was born and raised in Wellington and went to Rongotai College. I have two siblings - a sister and a twin [not identical] brother. My mum is also a twin, so I guess it runs in the family.

“People often ask what’s it like being a twin, but I don’t know what it’s like not being one. I guess the biggest thing is we look nothing alike but people would still get us confused all the time. And our grandparents would sometimes give us one, shared birthday present, which [in case they’re reading this] is fine…”

Why did you want to study law?

“I liked English in high school and social sciences - so geography and history.

“After I finished high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So when I went to Uni I took a range  of subjects that seemed potentially interesting (English, psychology, philosophy and law). I enjoyed law the most and then I got into law school. The law is fascinating…and I like to argue.”

What were your favourite law subjects?

“Family law and property law.

“The best paper I did was the Advanced Family Property; and that was because there were only 12 people in the course. In such a small class you are forced to form your own opinion and  discuss it with others.”

Did you want to practise as a lawyer?

“I think I always intended to practise, and I still would like to give it a go, but ultimately I’m not sure if that where I will end up.”

Is there anything you wish you had been taught in law school?

“You don’t really learn about the practical day to day application of the law; you learn more about the theory.

“I guess another thing you could learn more of in law school is client management.

“We get complainants who often don’t know what to expect from a lawyer and have unrealistic expectations. So, if the law schools addressed this, it could potentially prevent some of those complaints.”

After getting a job at the New Zealand Law Society as a legal administrator, Jonathan moved into his current role after around two years.

“I was gradually given more and more work and more involvement in the files. The great thing about working here is that you get a wider view of the profession and deal with lots of different areas of the law.. You’re always looking at something different.”

What does your job involve?

“In short, I provide administrative assistance to a Wellington-based Standards Committee.

“Standards Committees are the decision-making bodies of the Lawyers Complaints Service and are made up of  lawyers (usually 4 to 6) and lay members (at least 2) who volunteer their time.

“My role involves compiling all the correspondence received in relation to complaint, identifying key issues and summarizing these for the committee. I also correspond with the parties to a complaint on behalf of the committee and draft documents, decisions and the like.”

What are your downtime hobbies?

I read a lot. I play and follow cricket. I also play volleybal land I’m starting to get into doing basic woodworking.”

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