New Zealand Law Society - Lawyer mates didn't dissuade bagpiper

Lawyer mates didn't dissuade bagpiper

Lawyer mates didn't dissuade bagpiper
Scott Goodwin

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A piper now at weddings and funerals, Scott Goodwin – who as a teenager played at the world pipe band championships in Scotland – can't look at people's faces while playing.

"There are tears… The pipes bring out the emotions in people – it's why the English tried to ban them – send 10,000 troops or a piper…" says Scott, who was recently made partner at Cooney Lees Morgan, in Tauranga.

Scott William James (Scott) Goodwin
Entry to law
Graduated BCom, LLB from Otago University in 2005. Admitted in 2005. 
Partner at Cooney Lees Morgan, Tauranga. 
Speciality area
Trusts and property, succession planning, orchard and farming transactions, development work.

With Scottish blood on his granny's side, Scott took up the bagpipes in Rotorua when he was ten – under the tutelage of local joiner Dave Milner.

"I like the clear cut transactional work..."

"It was a random decision… Quite a few people in the rugby club were affiliated to the pipe band and I liked the sound of the pipes so I joined up, got heavily involved and started playing in competitions…"

In his seventh form year – aged 17 – Scott approached the Manawatu Scottish Pipe Band and joined with them at the word pipe band championships in Glasgow in 1999 – where the band, in its Cameron tartan, placed 20th in the A Grade competition.

"It was a big adventure and a huge commitment… Every third or fourth weekend I was bussing down to Palmerston North for intensive practice, plus an hour to an hour and a half a day practice at home…

"I would shut myself in my room and play – there were never any issues with neighbours…

"The band was top in New Zealand at the time... After I finished playing with them they went on to get into the top ten bands in the world…"

While he does not belong to a band or compete any more, Scott says piping needs to start thinking about modern music and appealing to the general public.

"Keep the traditional stuff but start thinking about concert material that appeals to the general public and playing with guitars and drum kits…

"Have a listen on YouTube to Canada's Simon Fraser University pipe band playing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah… I think that's how the pipes need to evolve…

"I have played a few times with guys from work, playing reels and jigs with bass guitar and drum kit backing, trying out tunes like Swedish musician Avicii's Wake Me Up and AC/DC's Long Way to the Top…"

Scott is also a fan of German electronic bagpipes: "You plug them into an amp or headphones and are the closest I have heard to the real thing…"

"You can keep your technique going but do not have to pull out the big guns, don't annoy neighbours and don't make a big noise in the house…"

Outside the pipes, Scott's wide musical taste includes English singer songwriter George Ezra, Mumford & Sons and Fleetwood Mac.

"Reading has been put aside for now because we are hooked on Netflix and catching up on the US House of Cards, Suits and Narcos – about Pablo Escobar…

"I read the b*ring stuff like LawTalk and Capital Letter but because I read facts every day I like a bit of fiction such as Dan Brown and Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games…"

Originally in Dunedin to do surveying, Scott switched to law and commerce in his second year at Otago University.

"I enjoy maths and liked the certainty of surveying… It's ironic that I'm now doing law where sometimes we don't have certainty because some areas of law are quite grey…

"At school I thought surveying would be good career option because of the balance of working in an office and outside… Then I was concerned with developments such as GPS that surveying was changing…

"I thought general skills in law and commerce would be better because you don't necessarily have to be a lawyer… I talked to a few mates who were lawyers and asked them if they had their time again would they be a lawyer and they all said no… It was the same with surveyors… So I was a bit stuffed on that…

"The attraction of law are the general skills you learn, the analytical skills looking at facts, weighing up facts and coming to a decision based on facts… I stayed away from litigation and court work because I like the clear cut transactional work… The more black and white it is the more I prefer it…"

Married to Tauranga general practitioner Jen and with son George (2) and Harrison (coming up 4) he is used to people asking if he's a Beatles fan. "They are not my favourite band…"

"Jen – who is part Colombian - is able to work part time, keeping her career ticking along and spending time with the boys - it's a good balance and part of the flexibility of living and working in a provincial area."

Having spent a year in England playing rugby and working in a Southend law firm, Scott is well-travelled through South America and Europe including France, Greece, Sardinia, Italy, Holland, Belgium and Scotland.

The couple were engaged at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness.

"At Glencoe [where, in 1692, English-sympathising Campbells murdered "under trust" 38 McDonalds who offered them highland hospitality] our McDonald tour guide reckoned there was still a local hotel that would not allow Campbells to stay…"

Having focused on the bagpipes at school Scott got into rugby in his third year at university, playing premier grade in Dunedin and Tauranga and London Division 3 while in Essex.

When he returned from the UK in 2008 he spent a season managing Mt Maunganui Sports.

A board member of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce since 2012, he gets up Mt Maunganui four or five times a week for general fitness – "to do a lot of thinking, take off stress, come up with solutions and avoid the corporate belly…"

His 2004 Ford Territory – "we've also got a Peugot 407 runabout but cars are not a passion for me" - gets the family to favourite holiday spots Ohope, Taupo, the Coromandel and down to Central Otago when they can make it.

"Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie and Rhys Darby from Flight of the Concords would be good dinner guests… Their band meetings are bloody amusing… It's hard to choose without being clichéd…

"Billy T James, Dalvanius Prime and Prince Tui Teka would be up there… Poi E is one of my favourite songs… the Patea Maori Club sang it before last year's Sevens final and the crowd erupted…

"If I wasn't a lawyer I would like to be a dentist… My old flatmate from Dunedin is a dentist and he's in Tauranga… he worked bloody hard and now he has Fridays off…

"He's got it all sorted…"

Jock Anderson has been writing and commenting on New Zealand lawyers and New Zealand's courts for most of his career in journalism. Contact Jock at

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