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Our Profession, Our People

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Wellington lawyer Tom Gilbert has been appointed an Acting District Court Judge with a jury warrant. Judge Gilbert will be sworn in on 15 April in Wellington and will sit in Christchurch. Mr Gilbert has been a partner and Senior Crown Counsel with the Wellington Crown Solicitor’s office, Luke Cunningham Clere, since 2006. He has undertaken and supervised serious Crown and regulatory prosecutions including homicide and sexual violence trials. He is the Convenor of the Mental Health Review Tribunal and a member of the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal. Mr Gilbert also acts as counsel in trials in the Court Martial of New Zealand.

Auckland lawyer June Jelas has been appointed an Acting District Court Judge with a jury warrant. Judge Jelas will be sworn in on 11 March in Auckland and will sit in Manukau. Ms Jelas has primarily practised as a trial prosecutor and appellate Crown Counsel in the field of criminal law. Her experience includes her role as Crown Counsel at the Crown Law Office where she undertook numerous criminal appeals before the Court of Appeal. Since 2000, Ms Jelas has also been a regular faculty member and demonstrator for the NZLS CLE’s Litigation Skills Programme and is a contributing author to the Law Society’s text An Introduction to Advocacy.

Christchurch lawyer Mark Zarifeh has been appointed Crown Solicitor for Christchurch and Greymouth. The appointment follows Brent Stanaway’s retirement from the role on 30 October 2015 after 23 years’ service. Mr Zarifeh is a partner of Raymond Donnelly & Co which has supported successive Crown Solicitors to deliver Crown prosecution services to Christchurch since 1914 and to Greymouth since 1984. Mr Zarifeh’s appointment will take effect on 31 March.

Law firm news

Bell Gully was involved in the attention-grabbing and successful campaign that has seen New Zealanders buy an Abel Tasman beach.

Led by the Givealittle campaigners Duane Major and Adam Gard’ner, New Zealanders pledged $2,278,171.09 to buy the Awaroa Inlet beach “for New Zealand”.

That crowd funding, together with an injection of $350,000 from the government and a last-minute major anonymous contribution provided the money for the bid to be successful.

The team, led by Mr Major and Mr Gard’ner, included the head of Bell Gully’s property team Andrew Petersen, Wellington barrister Geoff Harley and Harcourts CEO Chris Kennedy.

“It was a unique negotiation, with elements that no one has dealt with before,” says Mr Petersen, who was the lead negotiator on the project.

“The team resolved to put their best foot forward from the outset of the tender process in order to get the best result for New Zealand. We weren’t the only bidder. However, the vendor wanted to work with us as much as we wanted to get this done, and ultimately we won the race.”

The team, particularly Mr Major and Mr Gard’ner, had “a great vision and the drive to see it through”, says Bell Gully partner and chair Chris Gordon.

“They are on the way to delivering a fantastic piece of New Zealand for all New Zealanders to enjoy. We also congratulate the nearly 40,000 New Zealanders who have contributed in a very special way. This was an idea which, as a firm, we were very excited to be part of and is a unique addition to our very broad range of pro bono clients and work,” Mr Gordon says. 

Environment law prize

Waiata Bell and John Delaney are the joint winners of Simpson Grierson’s Environmental Law Prize for 2016.

The award recognises the student with the best overall mark in Waikato University’s environmental law paper.

Waiata and John were presented with a cheque for $1,000 each at a function at the firm’s Auckland office on 11 February.

Simpson Grierson has been sponsoring Waikato University’s Environmental Law Prize since 1992.

Russian lawyers looking to future

Lawyers in Russia are increasingly looking to the future and are keen to learn from the experiences of lawyers from other countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, according to former lawyer, now consultant to law firms, Simon Tupman.

This, Mr Tupman says, is one of the lessons he has taken from a trip to Russia in February, where he spoke at a law conference in Ekaterinburg, home of Russia’s first President, Boris Yeltsin.

This move of Russian lawyers to increasingly look to the future comes alongside their pride in their history, Mr Tupman says.

“The pace of change is as fast as it is positive. Russian society is increasingly open, westernised and cosmopolitan.

“Ekaterinburg offers an exciting blend of history, culture and modernity. It boasts a state-of-the-art international airport and is a host venue for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.”

Another lesson from the trip, Mr Tupman says, is that “being published is good for your career. I would never have had an invitation to speak but for the publication of the Russian version of [his book] Why Lawyers Should Eat Bananas in 2012. When you write a book, you never know where it may lead.”

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