Since the first classes in 1873, Law at Otago has been closely linked with the legal profession in Dunedin. We are delighted that two firms with a long history with the University, Anderson Lloyd and Gallaway Cook Allan, have partnered with Otago as the major sponsors for the Law 150th anniversary and the new Law Dean's Innovation Fund.
The new initiative will enable the Dean to support relevant and emerging priorities such as funding for students experiencing hardship, scholarships for students from diverse backgrounds and support for student-focussed initiatives including travel grants for students to attend national and international competitions.
Dean of Law Professor Shelley Griffiths says, “a key part of Otago's education is a highly personalised learning experience, defined by the one-to-one contact students have with Law faculty at all levels of the educational process.
“Empowering leadership with the ability to fund ongoing and sometimes evolving needs allows the Faculty of Law to maintain momentum of support for the student experience.”
Professor Griffiths says the Faculty is extremely grateful for the support of Anderson Lloyd and Gallaway Cook Allan to establish the fund, and for their sponsorship of plenary sessions and social events during the celebrations next April. It is hoped other alumni will join in supporting the fund.
Anderson Lloyd Partner Frazer Barton has recently been appointed President of the New Zealand Law Society, the first Otago graduate to hold the position
Founded in Dunedin more than 160 years ago, Anderson Lloyd now has offices in Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin and employs more than 170 people.
Offering a wide range of legal expertise and services, the firm's purpose is to enable its clients, people and communities to thrive. In recognition of its responsibilities as custodians of a multi-generational firm, it has a strong focus on staff wellbeing and is a foundation signatory of the New Zealand Law Society Gender Equality Charter and a member of Diversity Works.
Taking care of the environment is also a priority, and it is the first large law firm to become Toitū net carbonzero accredited.
Otago law graduate and Anderson Lloyd Partner Frazer Barton has close ties with the University of Otago, currently serving on the University Council, and the third generation of his family to attend Otago. He graduated with a BA in History in 1981 and an LLB (Hons) in 1986.
Always fascinated by the ability of an ordinary person to challenge the actions of government, he says his honours dissertation on judicial review has been invaluable in the course of his career.
His areas of expertise include civil litigation, professional indemnity insurance and more recently Te Tiriti-related litigation, particularly about tikanga. Barton has also recently been appointed President of the New Zealand Law Society, the first Otago graduate to hold the position.
“I think that Town Gown connection here in Dunedin is special and indeed may be unique. With the other hat I wear with the Law Society, here in Otago there is an Otago branch and they have a member of the Law Faculty who sits on the branch council. So the Otago practitioners are hearing about what is going on at the University and at the Law Faculty, and this is the only place in the country where that happens. As President of Law Society I certainly want to encourage that elsewhere.”
Anderson Lloyd provides prizes each year for Otago law students earning top grades in a variety of subjects, and the firm hosts a morning tea for recipients and their families.
“There's cross-pollination all the time between the firm, the legal profession and the Law Faculty. We're dependent on the Faculty here for graduates, so we need to have that good relationship and we value the quality of the graduates that come to us.” Throughout the firm a significant number of Partners are from Otago.
He says the firm will be encouraging people to attend the 150th anniversary, and they wanted to show support for the event through their sponsorship. Their contribution to establishing the Law Dean's Innovation Fund is in line with the values and goals of the firm.
“It's really important that this profession reflect the society we live in, that it is not elitist. We're in a privileged role, we're looked up to by society but there are certain expectations we have to live up to. We need to reflect society, so we need to support that diversity in all meanings of the word.”
Anderson Lloyd is also sponsoring the Tikanga Māori and the Future of the Legal System plenary session at the anniversary weekend.
“I've learnt a huge amount over the last couple years on that subject, and it's very topical. We've just had the Supreme Court release the decision in the Ellis case so we're at a fascinating time where we're seeing develop this concept of Lex Aotearoa which Justice Williams talks about, a blend of our common law and tikanga, and lots of views about how the Treaty should be interpreted.
“When I did law and history it was quite a different set of rules I was taught. The picture has changed quite dramatically during my career, for the best. The view we had was the Treaty was some sort of quaint document, it wasn't part of our law, and that has changed, as we know, enormously over the years. It's really important for our society going forward.”
Gallaway Cook Allan
Gallaway Cook Allan Partner Diccon Sim's links with Otago go back to his childhood, when he would visit his father Professor Peter Sim, who was the second Dean of the Faculty of Law, at his offices in the now Staff Club. Professor Sim was Dean from 1968-81 and delivered the first F W Guest Memorial Lecture
Tracing its origins back as one of the oldest law firms in New Zealand, Gallaway Cook Allan today has offices in Dunedin and Wanaka, with 90 staff acting for commercial businesses, private clients, and local and regional government across the South Island, nationally and internationally.
Describing themselves as “unstuffy, friendly and down to earth”, Chief Executive Rowena Davenport, an Otago Finance alumna, says as well as providing professional services the firm also values giving back to the community through its support of charities and community events.
“We want to enhance the communities we operate out of and add value.” It aims to be a sustainable business in terms of the market it works in and the social wellbeing of its clients, community and staff.
The firm has a long history with the University of Otago, dating back to the early days when lawyers taught students from their offices.
Partner Diccon Sim says those connections continue today with partners delivering papers in their specialist areas, teaching law in the Otago Business School and regularly judging moots and negotiation and witness examination competitions. The firm also takes on law clerks during term time and over the summer, which often leads to fulltime appointments after graduation.
“I think that the style and standard of teaching we have at Otago is second to none and that is reflected in the make-up of our firm, which is dominated by Otago graduates, and it's evident in the success of Otago graduates in the whole profession and overseas.”
Sim completed his law degree at Otago in 1984 and after a stint at the University of Oxford, studying for a Bachelor of Civil Law degree, he returned to the firm which was the predecessor to Gallaway Cook Allan. Shortly after coming back, he was given the opportunity to do a complex piece of legal work for the University by the then Chancellor Judith Medlicott CNZM.
“From there I developed a very close relationship with the University's legal work which has been the core of my practice for 25 years or more.”
He believes the aims of the Law Dean's Innovation Fund reflect the personalized approach the faculty take to teaching and the opportunities they create for students.
“It is vitally important there is equity in the rolling out of those opportunities. For the Dean to have a fund that they can identify and quietly support people who may not otherwise be able to take up the opportunities on offer is very important at this point of the Faculty's history and the University's history, because the future of law looks a little different from what it's been historically and the kind of people that have historically been drawn to law are not necessarily the people who are going to best serve the legal needs of New Zealand in the next 150 years.
“So just in a small way that fund can contribute to making sure that some of the right people come through to take the legal profession forward.”
He says the role of Te Ao Māori in New Zealand's law has been gaining greater recognition for some time, but its importance is just beginning to be understood in the wider profession and in the daily practice of law. “There's an increasing need for students to be equipped with an understanding that law is a developing discipline and that it's vital we keep up or get in front of where society is moving, in relation to moving on from our colonial history and developing our own unique jurisprudence.”
As well as supporting the Law Dean's Innovation Fund, Gallaway Cook Allan is sponsoring the Sports and Law session during the anniversary weekend, and the cocktail party and dinner on Friday evening.