Law Society Otago branch manager Debbie Ericsson graduated from Otago University with an LLB in 1998, having already completed a BSc in psychology, and also completed her Masters in Bioethics and Health law.
She worked four years at Aspinall Joel Barristers and Solicitors, then went out as a barrister sole at the end of 2002, working part-time. In 2008 Ms Ericsson became a barrister and solicitor trading as Ericsson Law.
“I’ve always worked part-time to work around children. I was predominantly a legal aid lawyer in family and criminal law. So doing this job allows me to have a bit of leeway to do the type of law that I want to do; rather than having to take everything and I’m focusing on criminal law.”
To fit parental duties in with that of the courts, Ms Ericsson says the key is to keep the rate of assignments to about 10 to 15 hours a week on top of what she does as manager at the Otago branch.
She admits there are “crazy court weeks”, but that they don’t happen all that often.
“I can shoot over to the court and do an appearance then shoot back. Occasionally I have a full defended hearing and will be away for half a day but people leave me messages and I get back to them as soon as I am back. I generally would come back from court even it is after 3pm and clear all of the messages and emails and make sure we’re up to date again and start the next day.”
How would you describe the profession in Dunedin?
“Really good. Very supportive and collegial. That’s one thing Otago’s really well-known for and if you’re ever stuck with something there’s always somebody to ask ‘what do you think of this?’, or ‘how do you think I should run that?’ ” Ms Ericsson says.