New Zealand Law Society - New Wellington branch President

New Wellington branch President

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In-house lawyer David Dunbar is the new Law Society Wellington branch President. Mr Dunbar was elected to the Wellington branch Council in 2011 and was elected Vice-President in 2014. He has also served as a member of the CLANZ (now ILANZ) committee for eight years until a couple of years ago.

After 13 years as a Parliamentary Officer in the Office of the Clerk, David Dunbar moved from the House to an in-house role in local government. Several public service and in-house roles later in the medico-legal area, he’s now involved in helping keep an eye on our medical profession as Registrar of the Medical Council of New Zealand.

“This is a fitting role, perhaps, for someone who comes from a family of doctors and nurses and the occasional lawyer,” Mr Dunbar says.

My predilection for law is definitely part of my heritage. I have two uncles who practised law, Jim Hutchison in Christchurch and Jock Hutchison in Masterton. Further back, my grandfather, Sir James Hutchison, practised in Christchurch (including a period as President of the Canterbury District Law Society) before he was elevated to the High Court bench. They were all strong role models and definitely influenced my choice of profession.

Tell us a little about your work

The Registrar is a statutory position. It is the key legal advisor to the Medical Council and delegate for the Council. It requires a combination of legal advisory work, issues and relationship management, and regulatory best practice that makes every day interesting. It’s a very solutions-focused role; the primary need being to ensure public health and safety through the processes of Council. Every day is different, but the breadth of the role enables me to actively pursue an interest in how a regulator can work with the profession in a collaborative way that supports both the profession and the interests of the regulator in providing an external assurance to the public.

Why did you choose to become involved in the Law Society?

I am proud to be a lawyer, and pleased to have had the opportunity to work in a variety of in-house roles. I have also worked with and associated with some amazing lawyers. The respect for the profession and standing that lawyers have reflects the generations of lawyers who have committed themselves to the profession and public. So in answering that question I’d have to say that I wanted to give back to the profession some of what the profession has given me.

At another level, my current role also serves to fuel my interest and engagement in the Law Society. The Medical Council role is not dissimilar to the New Zealand Law Society in its regulatory function. The same sort of issues play out in the regulation of the law profession as play out in the regulation of the medical profession. Lawyers are the first to set high standards for themselves and to maintain the highest level of professionalism. But with that can come a failure or reluctance to acknowledge to oneself or colleagues that despite best intentions, things are becoming a bit of a struggle. I have a particular interest in seeing the Law Society work in partnership with the profession to highlight those pressures and create an environment where lawyers are able and feel free to seek assistance.

Mr Dunbar is a keen skier and road cyclist and "as I still lay claim to being a South Islander, nothing beats the South Island for indulging in both," he says.

New Council

Annette Gray and Mark Wilton were elected as Wellington branch Vice-Presidents at the branch annual meeting on 22 July.

The new branch Council is: Melanie Baker, Sue Barker, Stephanie Dyhrberg, Jeremy Ford (ILANZ representative), Chris Griggs, Yemo Guo, Jennifer Howes (Young Lawyers Committee representative), Jessie Hunt (Wairarapa representative), Mike Lennard, Chris O’Connor, Megan Paish, Cathy Rodgers and Julia White.

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