Newly elected Nelson branch president Rob Somerville’s main goal is to ensure the branch remains a collegial place to practice law. The branch’s lawyers have “reasonably good” collegiality already (25% of the branch turned up to the latest Annual General Meeting ) – but it is important the city’s lawyers continue to know each other, Mr Somerville says.
Mr Somerville is well acquainted with most lawyers in the region, and has a broad understanding of the justice sector.
In 1997, he moved to the area from Whanganui to work as a general litigator. He then narrowed his focus to criminal and family law in 2002 and for the last four years has worked exclusively as a family lawyer.
However, he remains connected to the criminal justice system. He is Nelson’s Restorative Justice Trust chair. He says he holds this position because over the years he spent in the court “it is clear [to him] that victims need to have input in the justice system for everyone involved”.
He is also the District Inspector of Mental Health in the area, and is hopeful he will be reappointed when his three year term is up for renewal in June. People detained by the state need to have good access to their legal rights, he says. “It is an important role and I enjoy meeting with the users of mental health services.”