New Zealand Law Society - Prosecution brings best of both worlds for ex-Soho barman

Prosecution brings best of both worlds for ex-Soho barman

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Raising two high-achieving sports daughters – Suzie, one of the world’s top cricketers, and rising netball star Olivia - brings its own challenges and rewards for Dunedin Crown Solicitor Robin Bates and family lawyer wife Jo.

Robin Bates
Robin Bates

As teacher trainee Olivia continues to excel with the Southern Steel, big sister and all-rounder Suzie – also a 2008 Olympic basketballer - captains the White Ferns.

In a world first, Suzie won both the ICC women’s ODI and T20 International cricketer of the year titles in 2015, and holds the highest score and batting average in the New Zealand women’s Twenty20 cricket team.

Robin Philip (Robin) Bates.
Entry to law
Graduated BA, LLB from Otago University in 1976. Admitted in 1978. 
RPB Law and Crown Solicitor at Dunedin.
Speciality area

“Having two daughters continuing to do well at their sports means Jo and I get to travel around a lot to watch them,” says Robin, who became Crown Solicitor at Dunedin in 2002 and is one of the longest serving warrant holders.

“We are pretty fortunate to be able to go overseas and have been to India two or three times, and also Sri Lanka and China. We are planning to go to the women’s cricket World Cup in England in July. New Zealand has a reasonable chance, the top four teams are close but it’s a cruel game.”

Youngest son Henry, a sports lawyer, works for the sports and event management firm Essentially Group in Auckland, “looking after a lot of rugby players”, while eldest son Tom recently joined the Snapchat social media business in Los Angeles.

“I’ve always had an interest in the sports area and sports promotion and have done a bit of work in that over the years. So, if I wasn’t a lawyer I would probably end up there. Similar to what Henry is doing.”

Robin has been involved for about 20 years with the Edgar Centre in Dunedin – a major indoor sports development that began with the purchase of a huge disused woolstore on the city’s foreshore and kicked off with a $500,000 contribution from Otago businessman and philanthropist Sir Eion Edgar.

Tennis and basketball associations initially joined forces with the Dunedin City Council to develop the old store, which has the equivalent of 18 indoor courts, with additions and extensions added over the years.

“It is a satisfying project, a good facility and very well used,” says Robin.

Running a bar in seedy Soho

Taking five years to complete his arts and law degrees, Robin taught commercial practice at Otago Boys’ High School for a year before heading overseas with then girlfriend Jo.

The couple worked in London for a while, including a six-month stint running a bar in Soho frequented by producers and others in the entertainment business.

“I don’t recall any famous names coming in. It was one of the few jobs you could get easily in London at that stage and we needed the extra money to get home because we only had one way tickets.

“We managed to whistle-stop through Europe, all the usual places, including France and Italy, and on our way home through Tehran.”

The first lawyer in his family, Robin spent a year on an American Field Service scholarship in Minneapolis “and got the idea that if I wanted to do something useful law was an option. When I came back I decided to do a combination of law and political science.

“It was a combination of it being a profession and that I might be able to make some contribution to society. I was idealistic in those days.”

Extensive travel in India following cricket – “at the last women’s World Cup 20 over tournament we were all over the place” – encouraged him to read a history of India recently, a heavy tome he describes as “a bit of a battle … India is a fascinating place.”

Closer to home, the family has holidayed at Glendhu Station, Wanaka, for a number of years and at Pisa Moorings, on Lake Dunstan. “I have an old boat – a 6m Fi Glass Warrior with a reasonably good motor - which is used for a bit of fishing and water skiing.”

Robin sees his role as Crown Solicitor as the best of both worlds.

“The current job allows flexibility and the combination of the fact that you are essentially working for yourself but have that area of Crown work which is available to you.”

With three other lawyers in his firm, RPB Law does all the prosecution work in Dunedin and Otago.

“We can do private work but don’t because we are so busy with prosecutions. It has been particularly busy over the last six months. It looked as though the serious crime rate was going to drop off but it doesn’t seem to have. We are busy right across the board.

“We do not have the wider issues you have in commercial firms. Files come in, you deal with them, and they go out. It works particularly well.”

Golf and guitar

“I play a bit of acoustic guitar and try to play golf to retain my sanity. I like music of the 70s and 80s, I don’t keep up with modern stuff and am a fan of The Eagles. I play a mixture on the guitar and still think of myself as learning.”

“My favourite actor is Sean Connery and I like travel documentaries.”

He drives a “very old” 2002 BMW 530 Series V8.

“Arnold Palmer and Barack Obama would be interesting dinner guests, with a meal of good quality fish and steak.”

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