Jonathan Williams died on 14 February 2007. He was aged 57.
Jonathan graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with an LLB(Hons). While Jonathan was a hard worker and diligent in keeping up with level developments, he was blessed with a natrual intelligence which no amount of hard work can attain.
Jonathan was fortunate in being able to balance his intellectual capacity with a very practical approach to problem-solving. In this respect, Jonathan understood that, as often as not, it is in the interests of the client to avoid litigation and it was his skill and integrity in negotiating settlements without embarking on a course of litigation was much as his skill and integrity in conducting litigation that earned him the respect both of his clients and his peers.
At an early stage in his career, Jonathan specialised in debt collecting and acted for one of the major debt collecting agencies in New Zealand. Acting for the plaintiff in debt collection cases did not blind Jonathan to the fact that there were frequently two sides to a story and that settled solutions were often equitable solutions and as much in the interests of the plaintiff as they were in the interests of the defendant.
Nothwithstanding his specialisation, Jonathan was always keen to take on new challenges. His attention to his craft and accuracy in the details meant that he surmounted those challenges without difficulty. The number of legal firms which used Jonathan as their litigator of choice is testimony to Jonathan's standing amongst the legal community.
In partnership matters, Jonathan could be relied upon to pull his weight and bear a fair share of the administrative burdens which are the unattractive side of a legal career. He accepted that if these matters were dealt with in a timely and attentive manner (as they needs must be) then he would be free to concentrate on those aspects of a legal career which are the real concern of the practitioner.
Jonathan, in a remark which may be unique amongst litigators, was heard to say from time to time that he respected conveyancers for the depth of legal knowledge required of them in order for them to make decisions, at short notice and with lasting consequences, from which it would then be difficult if not impossible to resile. In Jonathan's view, some of the most interesting and rewarding legal challenges arose from conveyancing matters. When confronted with such issues, Jonathan would not hesitate to canvass the views of his conveyancing partners for their take on the problem facing him.
Jonathan was a great student of history and a book lover extraordinaire. In previous generations his taste in reading might have been described as "catholic", but more likely nowadays as "eclectic". In any event, his "consumption" of reading material was nothing short of prodigious. His appetite for books was virtually insatiable.
No tribute to Jonathan would be complete without a mention of Jonathan's love for classical music. Not content with simply enjoying the music of the master composers, Jonathan assembled a kitset harpsichord so that he could himself play their music on the instrument for which it was originally composed. He was also a fine singer - a tenor - with perfect pitch.
Jonathan's passing is a great loss to the legal profession and to his friends as both have lost a true friend.
This was first published in the June 2007 issue of Council Brief, the newsletter of the Wellington District Law Society.