What are members of the legal profession doing to support their communities during Christmas?
A number of lawyers and law firms are involved in initiatives to help people this Christmas. LawTalk spoke to four firms and one barrister about their contributions.
Rainey Collins Lawyers
This Christmas Rainey Collins Lawyers is sponsoring a Christmas tree at Wellington Children’s Hospital to raise funds for the Light Up Christmas Appeal.
“It’s a good cause helping the children out at the hospital,” according to Alan Knowsley, managing partner of Rainey Collins.
Wellington Hospitals Foundation fundraising and administration co-ordinator Shona Brunton says the foundation is inviting local businesses to sponsor a fully decorated 1.8 metre Christmas tree for a donation of $250.
In return, the company’s logo is displayed on a star at the top of the tree, which will be displayed in the Atrium of Wellington Hospital around its Grand Piano.
Ms Brunton says it is estimated about 4,000 people walk through the hospital Atrium each day and that being able to “create a ‘Christmas grotto’ feel in the area is very special”.
“This is the second year of running this appeal. The Christmas trees give the hospital Atrium a wonderful Christmas vibe for all to enjoy. The feedback from patients, staff and visitors alike is amazing.
“Rainey Collins has kindly agreed to sponsor a tree again this year as has John Miller Law and we are most appreciative of their support,” she says.
In January next year, Mr Knowsley will also spend a week at Camp Quality with children who have cancer. It will be his tenth year of going to the camp which is a volunteer, non-profit charitable trust dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for children living with cancer.
The firm also sponsors money and provides resources for copying, printing and postage.
“The kids will be having fun going for fancy car rides, going to the beach and visiting a farm and that sort of thing,” Mr Knowsley says.
Mr Knowsley says the firm also sponsors children’s parties and community groups as well as providing their time to help out where they can.
There are still Christmas trees available to sponsor should you know of any other law firms who might like to support the Children’s Hospital this Christmas. For more information contact Shona Brunton or visit www.whf.org.nz or the Facebook page www.facebook.com/wellingtonchildrenshospital.
Community involvement is an important aspect of working at Chapman Tripp, according to the firm’s HR Director Sarah Coleman.
During the Christmas period, the Wellington and Auckland summer clerks are tasked with organising practical support for the city missions and involving as many people as possible from across the firm.
Ms Coleman says the firm’s support includes a financial donation, staff contributions to their Christmas food and gift collection and time in the mission offices to wrap presents for their annual Christmas lunch.
“The firm is pleased to be able to provide practical support to the city missions during the lead-up to Christmas as they work to make it a special time for the thousands of New Zealanders who would otherwise go without any kind of celebration.
“The city missions do a wonderful job and Chapman Tripp values the opportunity for staff to get involved in community projects such as this,” she says.
The summer clerks will also undertake conservation work – usually encompassing track clearing and weeding – on Tiritiri Matangi Island and Zealandia during their three months’ work experience at the firm.
Anderson Lloyd continues the tradition of donating to food banks instead of spending money on Christmas gifts and cards, Anderson Lloyd Chief Executive Richard Greenaway says.
“This is one small way that we can give back to the community. We feel that our donations to food banks do more to share the goodwill and joy of Christmas than the usual practice of sending out Christmas cards to clients and acquaintances,” he says.
This year the firm will be donating $13,500 in New World vouchers to Auckland City Mission, Presbyterian Support Otago, Salvation Army Queenstown, and Christchurch City Mission.
Mr Greenaway says Anderson Lloyd does not currently have a specific programme in place for staff to volunteer and give their time to charity at Christmas time. However, a number of its staff give their time through pro bono work and volunteering on boards and organisations.
“The firm encourages its solicitors to engage in pro bono activities on behalf of persons or groups of limited means and to improve access to justice. Pro bono legal services are provided on a free or substantially reduced fee basis. Anderson Lloyd also supports its team to give back their time and expertise to the advancement of the legal profession,” he says.
This year Wynn Williams will continue to support Heart Kids New Zealand.
The firm makes an annual financial donation as well as offering pro bono legal services. Throughout the year it also does regular fundraising on a national level.
Wynn Williams marketing and business development manager Hannah Doney says every month the firm will have a ‘dress down day’ where the staff make a monetary donation.
“There are a number of people here who have family members or relations who are heart kids or know heart kids. Our executive chair was related to a person who would have been a heart kid had it existed then, so it’s very close to his heart.
“Heart Kids New Zealand also has its own fundraising activities which we took part in this year. We raised $12,500 by sitting in an ice bath … We raise awareness to them by sending out Christmas cards to all of our client data base.”
Ms Doney says the money is used to purchase flights for families to get to Starship Hospital and also to support the cause and its wider activities.
“We provide them with financial backing to enable them to look after the families as well as the kids who are having surgery,” she says.
Barrister John Sandston
“It’s often said that Christmas is a time for families. It’s also a time for those without families,” Nelson-based barrister John Sandston of Resolution Chambers says.
At Christmas, after attending church with his family, Mr Sandston will be involved in the Nelson Mayor’s Christmas Dinner – an event held for the last 30 years for senior citizens who would otherwise be spending Christmas on their own.
This won’t be the first time cooking for charity for Mr Sandston, who helped cook meals for the Christchurch City Mission while he was a young Crown prosecutor.
It was great fun, but also a good opportunity to give back to the community, he says.
Mr Sandston will also be a duty solicitor on Boxing Day in Nelson and he will be on call for the Blenheim Court throughout the holiday period.
“It will be great to catch up with my children. Although my wife and I see them a fair bit in Christchurch during the year (they attend university and boarding school) it will be fantastic to spend a much larger amount of time with them over the holiday period.”
Otherwise, Mr Sandston, and the other two barristers who make up Resolution Chambers, Cameron Lawes and Michael Vesty, plan to meet at New Year in Keneperu Sound. With all their families together in a family bach environment, the plan is to burn some “perfectly good meat over the barbeque”.
Resolution Chambers was formed a year ago, Mr Sandston says.
“As a chambers we have done a few things differently compared to others. We promote our chambers rather than our individual profiles.
“We are a tight bunch, with a good spread of ages, which is a real strength. We support each other well. We also maintain our support of our community, not because it’s expected of us by some, but because it’s the right thing to do.”
The three are all involved in helping various organisations in the Nelson community.
“From our little part of paradise we wish other professionals a very merry Christmas and a prosperous new year,” he says.