New Zealand Law Society - Our Profession, Our People

Our Profession, Our People

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Wellington District Court Judge John Walker has been appointed Principal Youth Court Judge. His appointment follows former Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft’s appointment as Children’s Commissioner. Judge Walker was admitted in 1975. He practised with Macalister Mazengarb and as a barrister in Wellington before his appointment to the bench in 1994. He was Executive Judge for the Wellington region from 2004 to 2010 and has acted as both Principal Youth Court Judge and Chief District Court Judge. Judge Walker developed the Youth Drug Court in Christchurch and has had leading roles in improving the courts’ handling of family violence cases and responses to drug and alcohol dependent people.

Rangiora lawyer John Brandts-Giesen has been appointed an Acting District Court Judge in Invercargill. Judge Brandts-Giesen was sworn in on 5 August in Christchurch and sits in Invercargill. He will hold a Family Court warrant. Mr Brandts-Giesen started practice as a staff solicitor for Raymond Donnelly in 1976. In 1980 he became a partner in the firm now known as Lane Neave before joining the partnership Brandts-Giesen McCormick Lawyers in 1994. Mr Brandts-Giesen has primarily practised family law, including conducting relationship property and care of children cases and numerous appointments as lawyer for the child. Mr Brandts-Giesen is a former Canterbury District Law Society President and former New Zealand Law Society Board and Council member until his appointment as a member of the NZLS Practice Approval Committee.

Oamaru lawyer Catriona Doyle has been appointed an Acting District Court Judge. Judge Doyle will be sworn in on 18 August in Wellington and will sit in Wellington. She will hold a Family Court warrant. Ms Doyle began practice as a staff solicitor at Burridge & Co in 1993 before joining Thomas Dewar Sziranyi Druce. In 1998 she became a Director of Family Law Specialists Limited before moving to Hope and Associates in 2015. Ms Doyle has practised family law in the District Court and High Court, including appointments as lawyer for the child and counsel to assist the court. She also has experience in Hague Convention work. Ms Doyle was a member of the NZLS Family Law Section Executive and has been a presenter at many seminars on family law.

Professor Craig Elliffe from Auckland University Law School has been awarded a Doctorate from the University of Cambridge for his “significant contribution to scholarship”. The announcement of his PhD follows an extensive submission of Professor Elliffe’s work on the subject of international tax law and tax avoidance, including his recent book International and Cross-Border Taxation in New Zealand. Published by Thomson Reuters, this book won the Legal Research Foundation’s JF Northey Memorial Book Award for the best law book published in 2015.

Corporate lawyer and MinterEllisonRuddWatts partner Silvana Schenone has been appointed to the Takeovers Panel. The appointment is effective from 1 October. The panel, which has 11 members appointed by the Governor-General, is the regulator of the corporate takeovers market.

Lawyer Daniel Wong has been appointed to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Board. A corporate lawyer, Mr Wong is the director and co-founder of the Auckland-based specialist corporate law firm, Flacks and Wong Limited. He is also an accomplished violinist who took up the instrument aged four and played with the Wellington Youth Orchestra for six years.

Working at the ‘big picture’ level

By Tim Earle

I first became interested in banking and finance in 2008 because of the Global Financial Crisis.

It was my first year at university, so I didn’t understand much about what was going on. The general consensus in my year group was that something had blown up in the United States which caused the floor to fall out of the wider global economy.

I couldn’t help but be interested in what was happening, so at the end of that year I switched degrees to economics and started taking more commercial papers at law school.

Six year later, I accepted an offer to work in the banking and finance team at Russell McVeagh where I am now in my third year.

The clients that we work with are complex businesses and need advice on a broad range of issues. A lot of the work that we do involves capital raising, but can also include anything from advising on anti-money laundering laws to building securitisation structures.

This is great from a practitioner’s perspective because you have the opportunity to further specialise according to your interests. A lot of issues that we advise on are also quite unique because they often only arise for large and complex entities.

At the individual level, working in banking and finance provides enormous scope for overseas travel. This has been one of the most surprising perks of working in finance, because in theory you can work in London as easily as you could Moscow or Sydney.

While most new lawyers have some idea of what courtroom advocacy might look like, or what a sale and purchase agreement does, I think it’s hard for people to visualise what a working day in finance actually involves.

There is no need for years of study in mathematics, and none of us (that I know of) are counting cards at the casino on weekends.

I also think the “soulless” label that gets attached to commercial work is undeserved. If you have been remotely interested in what has been happening to the global economy over the past few years then you would probably find the work quite rewarding.

The job satisfaction for me comes from working at the “big picture” level. While there is a steep learning curve, I’ve found that is more than made up by the broader perspective that you earn on issues which affect people every day.

Waikato wins negotiation contest

Waikato University is the Australian Law Students’ Association negotiation competition champion.

The team of Zachary Katene and Jarom Murphy won the final of the contest from the Canterbury University team of Billy Clements and Robert Cooper.

“The negotiation competition really helped us to develop valuable skills such as thinking on our feet and asking our clients effective questions,” Jarom says.

New Zealand teams also gained two further second placings.

The Waikato University team of Jessie Tizard and Amelia Watson were runners-up to NSW University in the championship moot contest.

John Whitecombe, of Canterbury University, was runner-up in the witness examination competition, when he was headed by UTAS’s Chris Bigwood.

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