Len died peacefully after a short illness at Dunedin Hospital last week, aged 71 years. Len was still practising as a barrister and very involved in all aspects of a profession to which he dedicated so much of his time, energy, and expertise.
Born in Hawke’s Bay, Len graduated with an LLB (Hons) from Otago University in 1975 and in the same year was admitted to the Bar. Following a year as a teaching fellow in the Law Faculty at Otago University, Len moved to Whakatāne where he joined Osborne Handley Gray and Richardson. Len had a passion for working in the regions and would remain in Whakatāne for 15 years before moving to Dunedin to join newly established chambers with Royden Somerville KC.
Dr Royden Somerville KC, shares that “Len was a stalwart of the southern Bar. He was well-known for his industry, the wide range of matters he appeared in, his indefatigable approach when advancing a client's case, and his passion for advocacy. He was a highly valued member of the legal profession, and a generous mentor of many young practitioners. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and friends.”
Throughout his career, Len made a significant contribution to the profession through unwavering service that extended well beyond his own practice. Len was a former president of the Otago District Law Society and of the New Zealand Criminal Bar Association. He also served on the Council of the New Zealand Law Society and the New Zealand Bar Association. For many years he lectured in advocacy at the Faculty of Law at the University of Otago.
Law Society President, Frazer Barton says “The death of this very special man will leave a void not just for the Otago region but across a profession that Len gave to with such a generosity of spirit. I’d like to express not only the Law Society’s condolences, but also our deep gratitude for Len’s invaluable contribution to our work. I would also like to acknowledge Len’s colleagues, who will be deeply affected by his loss.
Chief Executive of NZLS Continuing Legal Education Ltd (CLE), Hellen Papadopoulos describes Len as a great friend of CLE, and says he was always obliging. She adds that Len was a key player in the annual litigation skills programme. This was held only last month in Christchurch and was significant as it was the first residential delivery since COVID-19. “When Len wasn’t delivering the programme, he was attending it. There was great value in having someone of Len’s calibre contributing to the conversation as a participant.” Len was a Director of the NZLS CLE Ltd non-residential Wellington Litigation Skills Programme in 2021 and had been heavily involved as a faculty member since 1994.
Len was also the current Convenor of a Law Society Practice Approval Committee, and an inaugural chair of its predecessor, the Fitness for Practice Approval Committee.
Law Society General Manager Professional Standards, Gareth Smith paid tribute saying, “Over the years, Len provided his deep wisdom and guidance to the Fitness for Practice and Practice Approval Committee dealing with many complex applications. As you know, the decisions a Practice Approval Committee makes every day have a lasting impact on not only applicant’s careers and lives but are also vital to ensure public trust and confidence in the profession.
“Len approached this responsibility with complete dedication and volunteered countless hours to the crucial work as a key decision-making body in the regulatory framework. Len not only brought his significant legal expertise and experience to the role but also a very human, compassionate, and practical approach to the decision-making process.”
A recent interview with Len can be found in the latest edition of The Family Advocate from page 6.
Len’s service and closing address will be held in the Glenroy Auditorium, Harrop Street, Dunedin at 1.00pm on Saturday September 23, followed by private cremation.
Messages to 38 Cardigan Street, NEV, Dunedin 9010 or on Len’s tributes page where you can also access a link to livestream the service.