Almost 400 delegates gathered at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington last month for the 33rd Annual ILANZ Conference. The theme “Tuhura”/ Discover was fitting, given everyone is still discovering their ‘new normal’ in an uncertain time. After the cancellation of the ILANZ Conference in 2020 attendees were eager to reconnect with one another, make new connections and discuss issues, ideas and work related to the in-house legal community.
Megan Main, Deputy Secretary from the MIQ, Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment opened the conference with an engaging presentation on being involved in the process of building MIQ from a blank piece of paper.
The theme of Covid-19 followed on where panel members Mike Brooker, Phil Knipe, Prue Tyler and facilitator Katie Breatnach spoke about Covid-19 crisis management from different perspectives.
The conference streamed sessions proved popular with Dr Maria Pozza, Katie Rusbatch, Quentin Lowcay and Sophie Braggins speaking on the power of in-house counsel to drive change in the legal profession. Topics presented throughout the streamed sessions also included Alisson Whitney from NZME, who spoke on the importance of protecting yourself and your brand/organisation on social media and what to avoid when responding online, whilst Herman Visagie from the Law Society’s Board and Kirsten Patterson, Chief Executive of the Institute of Directors provided lessons on governance in a post-pandemic world with reflections on how Board operations have changed in the post-Covid environment.
Privacy Commissioner, John Edwards presented a very informative six-month check-in after new changes in the Privacy Law Act 2020 were implemented and how managing access to the correct information is imperative going forward. Former Facebook CEO Australia & New Zealand, The Digital CEO, Stephen Scheeler closed day one with his virtual presentation on becoming a disruptive leader in the digital age. He covered tips such as moving fast, leading from the top and being bold. Stephen shared with us the importance of the ability to apply data and analytics to the everyday as well as long-term planning and to assist with changing the game on decision-making in organisations at a leadership level.
Tania Te Whenua opened Friday morning of conference, speaking to the role as in-house lawyers in supporting their organisations to truly fulfil their commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi.
Fleur Knowsley, Director and Acting General Counsel at Google Fiber based in the U.S.A, shared with everyone practical ways in which we can re-invent the wheel to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace for the better of organisations, what works and what doesn’t work and acting on the words we say. A key part of the session was understanding the importance of the difference between equity and equality. Fleur also shared with us in a second session on how feedback is a gift. It’s not right or wrong. It’s just information.
The Unsessions returned to conference this year where delegates were encouraged to think of a theme, idea or issue relating to in-house lawyers and join in with their peers for a group discussion. This year’s most popular topics facilitated by ILANZ committee members included;
- Next steps you can take in your in-house legal career, what’s out there and how to go about it
- Law in a political environment: The front page of the paper test
The 2021 ILANZ Conference wrapped up with an eye-opening presentation by Jehan Casinader who talked about how life is a story and the power of how a positive mindset can be so important when continuing to create pages to tell.
Speaking after the session ILANZ President Grant Pritchard thanked Jehan for his “insights energy and spirit. Jehan’s message was captivating and practical in equal measure. Our 392 delegates were on the edge of their seats learning, laughing and reflecting thanks to his skills and talents.”
Reflecting on the conference, attendee Andrew Dentice, from Hudson Gavin Martin was impressed with the excellent, thought-provoking content, as well as many fun and interesting conversations.
“A big takeaway for me (as an ex-in-house lawyer attending) is that any perceived barriers between private practice and in-house practitioners are really melting away. Some of our best working relationships are with in-house counsel: working together, with mutual respect and in partnership, to get good things done for our clients. If we are doing our jobs properly in private practice we should be an extension of the in-house team.
“All the main themes of the conference (diversity, ethics, digital disruption, mental health, the Treaty partnership) were just as relevant to us in the private practice world. Plenty to think about and lots to do!”
This year, we were very privileged to have ILANZ Patron of 30 years and attendee of 31 ILANZ conferences, Sir Ian Barker, judge the ILANZ Awards for 2021. Throughout the duration of judging Sir Ian pressed a number of times on the high calibre of nominations which, in turn, resulted in two Awards having split winners.
In-keeping with Tūhura | Discover, the theme for the dinner was: Through the looking glass. Many of the attendees donned costumes with a few Mad Hatters and Queen of Hearts to be seen around the tables.
Our Winners included:
- AUT Community Contribution Award Winners: Maria Sopoaga and Victoria Lee
- MAS Young In-House Lawyer of the Year Award Winners: Charlotte Moll and Nathan Watt
- Artemis Executive Recruitment In-House Innovation Award: Powerco Legal Team
- Greenwood Roche Private Sector In-House Lawyer of the Year Award Winner: David Milton Browne
- ILANZ Public Sector In-House Lawyer of the Year Award Winner: Simon Johnson
- Chapman Tripp In-house Legal Team of the Year Award Winner: Air New Zealand Legal Team
“The ILANZ Committee would like to congratulate all the winners for 2021 and thank everyone who nominated a person or team and all nominees for the Awards,” says Ben Jacobs, ILANZ treasurer and committee member.
“We are so grateful for the role you play in leading, supporting and inspiring the in-house community.
“It was great to be back after a year’s absence with one of our biggest conference ever, and to see so many of our members connect, learn and share ideas. We’d like to thank everyone who attended, spoke, ran around like mad organizing the event and, of course, those awesome organisations who supported their in-house lawyers to attend such a valuable, thought provoking and inspiring conference,” adds Ben.
“As a committee, we are constantly looking for ways to help our 3,330 members and we will continue to work to strengthen and deliver on ILANZ’s values; CONNECT, SUPPORT and LEAD the in-house legal community.
“We are already getting excited for our conference in 2022 which will be at the new Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre.”