Over the past decade Sarah has acted primarily for Government as Crown Counsel, which afforded her the opportunity to act on complex litigation of public interest.
Recently, Sarah has been elected a new council member of the NZLS Auckland Branch Council.
NZLS Auckland Branch talks to Sarah about her new role as a council member of the Auckland Branch Council and her career.
Recently you have been elected a new council member of the NZLS Auckland Branch Council, congratulations. When did you decide to run for the election and why?
I decided to run shortly before the election. I made the decision to run because I am keen to contribute to our profession, to build on strengths and to assist with improvements where possible.
What would you like to achieve in your new role?
I would like to assist with best meeting and working with changes faced by the profession ranging from expectations around how we work to changes in technologies, and to seek to ensure we are meeting (and exceeding) the standards expected.
What inspired you to study law?
I wanted to be a political journalist, so together with enrolling in a political science degree, I enrolled in law so that I would better be able to understand and critique the lawmakers. Law took over, I enjoyed it, and ended up pursuing a career in public law instead, which allows me to work closely with those aspects of natural justice and lawmaking that drew me to the field originally.
What do you enjoy most about being a lawyer?
So many things! I enjoy the problem solving, and the clear-thinking analytical side. I’m a litigator and love the focus that requires. In terms of public law, I enjoy the search for the right answer or the best answer as contemplated by law and in terms of natural justice. In general terms, I enjoy learning about the areas of improvement and change that occur constantly within the law both here and abroad. I also really enjoy working with other members of our profession, from junior to senior counsel. And of course, I enjoy and have a huge respect for the part the practice of law plays in people’s lives, from indigenous rights, to access to justice, to regulation of business and finance (and much more in between).
You have extensive experience in medico-legal matters, what are some of the biggest challenges of that area of law?
One of the enjoyable challenges in medico-legal law is understanding the subject matter, whether it is how care is funded for disability services, or the appropriate medical practice in matters ranging from mental health services to obstetrics, or the testing and review of particular pharmaceuticals.
Why did you choose to take up a room at Bankside Chambers?
I have a few friends at Bankside who spoke highly of its collegiality and support, and it has a strong reputation for excellence. There are a number of fantastic and hugely experienced lawyers at Bankside who are very generous with their time. It is a great place to be based.
What are some of your career highlights?
My career highlights have centered on matters that seek improvements or concern critical thinking at a national level. This has included review of institutionalisation of people with intellectual disabilities, to assisting with the Rena grounding, review of regulation of telecommunications pricing, or seeking to best meet the needs of children in care of the state. These matters are often difficult, but impact the lives of New Zealanders.