It is with heavy hearts that we learnt of the passing of Jonathan Temm, former President of the New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa.
Jonathan was a courageous, passionate man who dedicated much of his life to leadership roles at both a local and national level across the profession. He was staunchly committed to access to justice and the criminal justice system.
“I know Jonathan’s passing is a particular loss for the criminal bar and for his friends and colleagues in Rotorua,” says Tiana Epati, Law Society President.
“Jonathan was incredibly generous with his time and always willing to help his fellow lawyers. When I took on the role as President, he was one of the first people who reached out and made sure I knew I could contact him at any time if I needed to talk about the pressures of the role.
“We have lost a leader, a great advocate and a good kind man.”
Graduating from Auckland University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts major in Political Studies he began his legal career at Chapman Tripp Sheffield Young in Auckland in 1993. He went on to join Davys Burton in 1995, where he later became a partner and senior Crown counsel. He spent 10 years in the role of Crown Counsel prosecuting all types of serious crime.
In 2005 he commenced practice as a barrister sole, with a specialty in criminal law and civil litigation. He worked on a number of high-profile criminal trials including the Nia Glassie murder trial and the “Body in the Forest” homicide case both in Rotorua.
Jonathan dedicated much of his life to volunteering in leadership roles for the New Zealand Law Society. As President of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty District Law Society he led that district through considerable changes in structure and regulation of the profession. This included the amalgamation of the District Law Society into the national New Zealand Law Society.
He was a member of the New Zealand Law Society Board at the time of the implementation, becoming President in 2010.
During his Presidency Jonathan’s focus was on the successful bedding in of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006. This included the introduction of a substantially new regulatory system, including complaints handling process. It was during Jonathan’s time that the Law Society consulted on and implemented new CPD Rules. He also led the profession through the financial crisis that hit New Zealand from 2008. One of the most difficult issues faced during his presidential term was the legal aid reforms and establishment of a new legal aid framework, which was widely opposed by lawyers.
Jonathan dealt with vociferous personal attacks with calmness and dignity. It was largely due to him that the Law Society, while robustly voicing its concerns over some of the changes, was able to constructively engage with government on this issue and the legal aid reforms were implemented with little disruption to those vulnerable clients that legal aid is designed to support.
Following his presidency, Jonathan continued in unpaid service and dedication to the profession and access to justice. In particular, he participated in court reforms, including as Chair of the Advisory Committee on Alternative Trial Processes for Sexual Offending (a NZ Law Commission committee); and continued as a Board member of South Pacific Lawyers Association (SPLA) – an organisation supporting law and lawyers in the South Pacific Islands. He also chaired the Law Society’s CPD Committee and was a trustee of the NZ Law Foundation.
In 2019 Jonathan was appointed Queen’s Counsel in recognition of his ability as a lawyer and his work in the access to justice area.
The New Zealand Law Society extends its deepest condolences to his family.
KUA HINGA TE TOTARA I TE WAO NUI A TANE
THE TOTARA HAS FALLEN IN THE FOREST OF TANE