New Zealand Law Society - A barrister with many parents

A barrister with many parents

This article is over 3 years old. More recent information on this subject may exist.

By Jock Anderson

Shannon Daniel (Shannon) Withers
Washington DC, United States, the son of a New Zealand diplomat
Los Angeles and New Zealand
Entry to law
Graduated LLB from Auckland University. Admitted in 2010.
Graduated LLB from Auckland University. Admitted in 2010.
Shannon Withers
Shannon Withers

Auckland barrister Shannon Withers (35) describes himself as having “stayed off the radar.”

But that could change if a major extradition case he is on with his Head of Chambers Roger Chambers gets a hearing at the Supreme Court.

Messrs Chambers and Withers are seeking leave to appeal on behalf of an Iraqi man sought by Australia for his alleged part in an attempt in 2001 to smuggle about 300 people into Australia, most of whom drowned when the boat sank in rough seas not long after leaving Indonesia.

Extradition was granted in the District Court, overturned in the High Court, then, on the Crown’s appeal, referred back to the District Court by the Court of Appeal.

The case has been a big news story in Australia for years, and one Shannon appreciates being immersed in with Roger Chambers.

His father Peter Withers – now director of academic programmes at Auckland University graduate school of management - was a trade diplomat in North and Latin America, China, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Greece, Turkey and New Zealand.

Being on the move around the world, along with spending eight years “sorting out family wrangles” in the Cook Islands (his mother is half Cook Islander), has equipped Shannon with a broad understanding and appreciation of human frailty and foible.

“I can appreciate the fear and discomfort of facing or bringing legal action, whether the circumstances are criminal, family, immigration, employment or civil.”

As a realist, he says the law teaches him to treat people with dignity and gives him an opportunity to do some good.

Part of that reality, he says, is handing a prisoner client some documents to read. “They say they have left their glasses behind but the sad fact is they can’t read.”

He reckons judges like him because he gets to the point and doesn’t waste court time.

In a market economy criminal lawyers don’t generally make a lot of money, the public defender service eats up work and the job is often thankless.

“But you either want to be in it, doing the best you can, or you don’t.”

Vulcan Chambers has mentored him on a few cases to the Court of Appeal.

“These are strong chambers and I have many parents here. I take them a question and get 12 different, but useful, individual answers.”

“But as an independent barrister I have my own personality and my own approach.”

 A recreational swimmer with a droll sense of humour who likes a beer, he says he’s not interested in making a mark for himself - he wants to give clients the best shot.

“Sometimes that’s not easy. There’s nothing nice about hearing about people at their weakest or finding the gift of telling a client something unpalatable.”

“I care about doing right…”

Jock Anderson has been writing and commenting on New Zealand lawyers and New Zealand’s courts for several decades. He also writes the weekly Caseload column for the New Zealand Herald. Contact Jock at

Lawyer Listing for Bots