New Zealand Law Society - Yorkshire aviator lands citizenship pineapple lump reward

Yorkshire aviator lands citizenship pineapple lump reward

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Mike Edison
Mike Edison

Yorkshireman and aviation enthusiast Mike Edison wanted to be a journalist, until after a day's work experience a reporter told him over a beer he wouldn't be but he had a lawyer's brain.

"He was either trying to eliminate any competition or my Mum paid him a princely sum to say that," says Mike.

"My face fell off when he told me but he was probably right."

Michael Paul (Mike) Edison
York, England. 
Entry to law
Graduated York College of Law 1998. Admitted in England and Wales 2000. Admitted New Zealand 2014. 
Adjudicator with Crown-owned professional services firm Fairway Resolution Ltd, Auckland. 
Speciality area
Resolution for insurance, family, local government and construction disputes.

Mike starts a new job today (6 August 2015) as a fulltime adjudicator with Crown-owned professional services firm Fairway Resolution Ltd.

"This is an exciting opportunity for me to pursue a career in adjudication and build on the skills I developed in the Disputes Tribunal."

Fairway Resolution operates dispute resolution schemes for ACC, financial services providers and telecommunications companies. It also provides resolution services for insurance, family, local government and construction disputes.

Earlier in his career, and armed with a history degree majoring in twentieth century international relations and politics, Mike completed postgraduate diplomas in law and legal practice – an acceptable pathway to law in the UK – and spent the next eleven years at the London office of global US firm Dewey & LeBoeuf.

During that time he managed commercial litigation for international clients across the aviation, bank, energy and insurance sectors and gave cross-border insolvency advice, particularly in relation to matters involving Bermuda and Cayman Islands.

After he left Dewey & LeBoeuf in 2009, the firm went into bankruptcy in 2012 – when it employed 1,000 lawyers in 26 offices around the world - and its leaders were indicted for fraud for their role in allegedly cooking the company's books to obtain loans while hiding the firm's financial plight.

"I had no part in that."

 "I'm not from a legal family although I have cousins who are successful lawyers in Pittsburgh and Chicago."

With an engineer father keen on building radio-controlled model aeroplanes, Mike obliged as a youngster by flying and crashing the models so his father could rebuild them.

"I've always been interested in aviation – we went around a lot of air shows in England - and took up gliding in north Yorkshire as a teenager and again for a couple of years when I worked in London."

He flew solo in gliders in the well-known Sutton Bank area of Yorkshire and also tackled power flying in Piper Warrior and Cherokee aircraft.

He spent 15 months in the UK air force reserve but that became "tricky" when on weekend parade his boss wanted him to take international conference calls.

While he did all the practical flying required, he didn't complete his pilot's licence because of the time involved in doing exams.

 "It became difficult to fit too many things in so I gave up the air force reserve when I got married."

But living near Auckland's Ardmore airport may change that as he is keen to take to the air again, especially to try out the gliding thrills above Omarama, one of the world's best soaring locations.

He came to New Zealand as a permanent resident five years ago with his Kiwi wife Judy and oldest daughter Heidi – now going on six and with a two-year-old sister Rachel.

"I recently became a citizen along with a lot of other people at a very nice ceremony at the Pukekohe town hall, where it seems I come from a place called "Britain" – I haven't heard it called that for while…"

His secretary acknowledged the occasion by providing pineapple lumps and decorating the office with New Zealand and All Blacks flags.

[Fortunately for Mike he didn't have to give the full names and dates of birth of the 1921 All Black team to South Africa – a citizenship puzzler that has most new arrivals scratching their heads.]

A year after arriving in New Zealand he was appointed a Disputes Tribunal Referee – "a dream come true" – and a role he performed for three and a half years before joining Kennedys, where he was made an associate earlier this year.

"Being some kind of a judicial officer was something I always kept in mind but I never thought it would happen. I work-shadowed a judge in the UK but it is hard to become a judge there.

"I enjoyed the referee work but was a bit worried when I first started that people would say I was some Pommy and what did I know about anything…

"But no-one said anything of the kind…"

Sitting mainly in south Auckland there were days when there would be no New Zealand accents in the room. "That's when I realised we are all in the same boat making a go of life in New Zealand."

Most disputes involved consumer claims, products people were unhappy with, builder disputes, and Fencing Act disputes.

"The tribunal is an equity and good conscience jurisdiction where people must feel they have been heard and are told the reasons for the decision.

"Even if people disagree with the decision they are more likely to accept it if they believe they have had a fair hearing. Sometimes having someone listen to them is enough to satisfy them…"

Life outside a long work day is absorbed by his young family, children's playdates and parties.

Mike is a Friday night Coronation Street fan – "it keeps me in touch with my northern cultural roots" – while wife Judy is into Emmerdale. Both like Shortland Street.

"I steer away from watching legal dramas – there's enough of those at work…

"I used to read hippy stuff like D H Lawrence and Hermann Hesse and now play chess against my computer which beats me."

He recalled a cartoon about world chess champion Garry Kasparov, the first man to play against and be beaten by IBM's Deep Blue computer.

 "The headline was 'Kasparov beats Deep Blue in one move…' and showed his finger going to the off button…"

"Being beaten by computers – which are way better at chess than humans – has taken some of the glamour away from the sport … It shows there's nothing special about humans.

"Musically I am bad. I played the recorder badly at school. I wanted to be a violinist but my parents said that would be like listening to a cat being skinned alive. And I can't sing.

"We have to listen to Taylor Swift because Heidi likes her.

"And I've played all sports, including hockey, at the same level of incompetence.

"Am I interested in being a judge?

"Possibly. It's something I keep in the back of my mind and will see how it might develop.

"Becoming a mediator or arbitrator may be more in line with my skills."

Jock Anderson has been writing and commenting on New Zealand lawyers and New Zealand's courts for quite a while. He also writes the weekly Caseload column for the New Zealand Herald. Contact Jock at

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