"Ask yourself, who did you help today?" So says Wellington lawyer Stacey Shortall, who was one of the winners of the 2015 Women of Influence Awards.
A Wellington-based partner of Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, Ms Shortall won the Westpac Community and Not-for-Profit Award. The awards were presented at a gala dinner at SkyCity, Auckland on 4 November 2015.
Ms Shortall stood out because of her contribution and influence in the lives of disadvantaged children, the award judges said.
While based in New York, Ms Shortall worked as a volunteer lawyer in many New York State prisons.
On her return to New Zealand she developed a programme that seeks to help mothers incarcerated at Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility maintain meaningful connections with their children.
She also developed a weekly homework club at a decile one school in Wellington where primary school children are assisted with their homework and provided access to different role models.
She continues to develop other initiatives intended to help stop violence against women and children and provides thought leadership by writing and speaking on topics such as diversity and women's rights.
"I am truly humbled to be recognised in this way," Ms Shortall said upon receiving her award.
"There are so many other amazing people active in our communities seeking to influence for good. It is wonderful that awards such as this exist to shine the light of some of those efforts.
"I ask my kids over dinner each night who they have helped today. If over four million of us could answer that question positively, imagine the movement we could create in this country.
"Being publicly recognised is a great honour and one I dedicate to the women and girls I have had the privilege of helping at home and abroad.
"But what matters most is what we do when no one is watching," Ms Shortall says. "And I believe we can and must do more, especially for our children. Who have you helped today?"
"Stacey is a person that inspires us all," Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Chair Cathy Quinn says. "Not only is she a terrific lawyer, she is someone who looks to make a positive difference wherever she can.
"Her generosity in the workplace and in the community is awesome. All the finalists are women [who are] going out of their way to improve the lives of others. We are delighted that amongst this group of superb women Stacey was selected as this year's winner.
Brilliant role model
"We are very proud of what Stacey continues to achieve and that we have such a brilliant role model in our firm. We look to support Stacey's work in the community and are incredibly proud to have her as our colleague," Ms Quinn says.
Aside from her pro bono work, Ms Shortall has broad experience successfully representing financial institutions, other corporate clients, public sector entities, and directors and officers in significant litigation and regulatory matters.
She has advised in complex disputes and investigations involving contractual breaches, the exercise of statutory powers, misleading statements and omissions, insurance cover, fraud, accounting improprieties, bid-rigging, money laundering, tax abnormalities, health and safety violations, fair trading concerns, construction issues, food safety and medical matters.
Ms Shortall has been recognised as a leading lawyer in New Zealand by independent research from Chambers, The APL 500, Legal Media Group and NZ Lawyer.
She is also, and most importantly, the mother of three young children.
Ms Shortall will feature as one of the presenters at next year's Women in Law – Career by Design Conference. Organised by NZLS CLE Ltd, this conference will run in Auckland on 11 April and Wellington on 12 April. The Wellington event will also be webstreamed.
Ms Shortall will be one of three presenters at a session entitled Shifting the Paradigm: it can be done. The session will look at practical steps for improving law firm culture for women.