New Zealand Law Society - Speed and sharks tempt southern action woman

Speed and sharks tempt southern action woman

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It's probably fair to say born and bred Invercargill-ite Doreen Evans doesn't do things by halves in an action-packed life that would leave other folk exhausted.

Recently taking up a partnership at Invercargill firm AWS Legal hasn't curbed Doreen's outdoors life – in November she was coaching crews  (including one from AWS Legal) - for her rowing club's annual corporate rowing challenge fund raiser.

Doreen Leslie (Doreen) Evans
Entry to law
Graduated BCom, LLB from Otago University in 1998. Admitted 1998. 
Partner at AWS Law, Invercargill. 
Speciality area
Corporate and commercial law.
Doreen Evans
Doreen Evans

"It's been going for ten years and is well supported by lots of local firms," says Doreen, who took up rowing at James Hargest College and later coached school children.

"I coach corporate crews, mainly eights and quads (fours with two oars) … They pay up and get eight training sessions, followed by an indoor race on the erg (ergometer) rowers, with eight machines all racing each other…

"Teams of ten rowers do 200 metres each indoors … The outdoor event is held on the Oreti River, outside Invercargill, followed by a band on the back of a truck and everyone parties on down…"

After high school Doreen worked in a bank for about four years.

"I thought if I went to uni straight away I would probably drink my way through the first year…

 "I then took three months off to do a European Contiki tour – returning to New Zealand four and a half years later to study law and commerce at Otago University.

"While on my OE I learnt how to ski in Austria. We cycled around Scandanavia from London, through Holland, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden before heading back to London…

"Living and working in London was awesome."

She continued to work in the financial industry in London and ended up working in Kuwait for a Kuwaiti government agency and a mechanical electrical company.

"War had broken out in Kuwait while we were cycling round Scandanavia and working in Kuwait I saw how different people were treated because of their nationality.

"It was while living in Kuwait I decided I wanted to be a lawyer."

After more than a year in Kuwait, Doreen returned to New Zealand in 1993, but not after travelling around the Middle East and learning how to scuba dive.

She had a son while at university – he's now 19 and working in Ranfurly – and says the first few years after his birth "are a bit of a blur… I was studying full time and working part time… Very busy."

After graduating she worked for Anderson Lloyd in Dunedin before returning to Invercargill in 2004.

In 2009 she designed and supervised the building of her holiday house at Pisa Moorings on the shores of Lake Dunstan, just out of Cromwell.

"I was doing work for clients developing the land and after several visits to the site I thought it would be nice to have a holiday home there…

"My seven-seater Kia Sorento is great for towing the boat and going up the mountains for snow skiing – and chasing a few rabbits…

"It's an awesome spot to spend time with family and friends … I learned how to water ski and now have a passion for it, trying to hit the water with my skis as much as possible…"

She also snow skis at Cardrona and around other Central Otago ski fields.

"It's the speed I like … Skiing gives you that … As a kid I wanted to be racing car driver but alas I am a lawyer…

"The Highlanders motor sport park go-kart track in Cromwell is a great place to race my friends … You don't want to get in my way – I have been known to bump other karts when I pass…"

For her son's 16th birthday she took him to Cairns to learn how to dive, which renewed her interest in diving.

"I go with a group of friends diving at Milford and Doubtful Sounds, at Bluff and off Stewart Island…

"A shark came up behind us at Milford Sound and then came towards us … My friend Robbie and I backed ourselves into a rock trying to remember what to do…

"Just as I thought it was the right time to hit it Robbie pushed the catch bag she was holding at it and scared it off…"

A recent trip to Wellington to see singer Robbie Williams, and celebrate the All Blacks win over Australia, resulted in buying five new pairs of shoes. Last month she was off to see Fleetwood Mac in Dunedin.

"And why I waited so long to go to the Wearable Arts event I don't know…"

Heavily involved in Rotary, Doreen is the youth director for her club and also on the Rotary youth exchange committee for the district.

She hosts a water ski weekend every February for exchange students because most of them do not have an opportunity to water ski in their own countries.

"It's great to see the joy on their faces when they manage to get up…"

But wait, there's more…

Doreen's next jaunts include a ten-day live-aboard dive adventure in the Galapagos Islands – where she hopes to get up close with hammerhead sharks -and eight days on Peru's Inca Trail…

That's if she survives January's Gibbston Valley wine and music festival.

"By the end of that day I've really had it…"

(PS: After initially saying she wasn't very good at talking about herself, Doreen then provided our scribe with a detailed and fascinating account of her many adventures – as well as a mention of her legal career.)

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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