New Zealand Law Society - Opera-loving hip hop diva urges care on social media

Opera-loving hip hop diva urges care on social media

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By Jock Anderson

Anna Elizabeth (Anna) Holland
Entry to law
Graduated LLB, BA (psychology and music) Otago University 2010. Admitted 2010. 
Bell Gully, Auckland. 
Speciality area
Fourth year solicitor in employment team, advising employers on social media policies.
Anna Holland
Anna Holland

A student of classical opera, social media employment specialist Anna Holland’s potential “big break” outside law came on a garage band hip hop album – almost.

It was 2012 and two hip hop “emcee” friends she won’t name, but known as DB Cooper, asked her to sing on a couple of tracks for their Golden Mean recording.

[In this context hip hop MCs are apparently rappers who MC on record, as opposed to other MCs who MC live while a disc jockey mixes the tunes. Get the picture?]

“The bit I sing isn’t hip hop … I was the fluent vocal line running through to bring us together. It was a couple of days work, a lot of fun but only a small part of my musical career.”

Golden Mean didn’t make any money - it’s doubtful it was ever released for sale - but at least one reviewer gave her thumbs up for her rendition of the track Get Down.

From childhood days in Tauranga, Anna was a constant performer for her parents, starting singing lessons at 9 and appearing at Tauranga performing arts competitions for ten years.

She grew up on show songs, including those by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the music of her personal favourites Ella Fitzgerald and American opera star mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato.

She sang with the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus in Macbeth in 2010.

But not in the office. “Colleagues ask me to, especially on Friday, but I tend not to – my voice is quite loud.”

Joining Bell Gully earlier in 2010 from summer clerking, she quickly developed an interest in how the use and abuse of social media affects employment relations.

She advises on obligations under the Privacy Act, as it relates to personal information collected, stored and disclosed using digital technology such as cloud-based service providers.

As a relatively junior lawyer Anna is reluctant to express views on specific cases, except to say social media – with its advantages and downsides - is part of the way people live and therefore people should be careful how they get involved in it.

[Readers will remember the case of a fellow refused time off to go to a waka ama championship in 2011. He called in sick but questions were asked after he was seen on Facebook and he was dismissed – a justified dismissal upheld by the Employment Relations Authority and Employment Court.]

She says people should feel comfortable communicating on social media and about where their information is going.

“It is a rapidly developing area of law – particularly in employment relations.”

“There is a general trend towards more privacy as people become more careful about their privacy.”

“I see myself heading forward in employment law. It’s about people and relationships, repairing broken relationships where possible and dealing with the outfall when it’s not.”

Studying Spanish in her last year at Otago University prepared her for two months volunteer work looking after about 20 young children of working parents in a day care centre in Cusco, the historic Peruvian capital of the Incas, before travelling in South America.

In 2008 she studied European Union commercial, environmental and human rights law at Charles University in Prague – a classical city Anna describes as an opera singer’s dream.

“Prague has so many beautiful old theatres and for $7 a ticket in the gods I packed in as many shows as I could.”

Anna’s in rehearsals for this year’s Professionals Review season of comedy skit House of Business Cards at Auckland’s Maidment Theatre from October 21 to 24, where she sings in a six-piece band backing a cast of more than 12.

The annual review was started in 2011 by creative young lawyers who yearned for their university law review days and it quickly expanded to include other professionals.

“There are always opportunities to do music, and I certainly intend to keep music in the mix.”

“But the priority is my legal work and our next show. It gives an extra dimension to life when can I leave work and go to band practice.”

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

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