Community Lawyer wins Young In-House Lawyer of the Year Award

The four winners of the CLANZ annual awards for in-house lawyers have been announced.

The awards are made by CLANZ, the New Zealand Law Society’s section for in-house lawyers and recognise leadership and excellence in the provision of legal services.

The 28th CLANZ Conference Gala Dinner and Awards were held on Friday 22 May in Paihia.

CLANZ President Dr Katie Elkin says the awards are made to lawyers who have made valuable contributions to their employer and the legal profession through leadership and excellence in the provision of legal services.

New Zealand has almost 2,600 in-house lawyers, making up 21% of all lawyers. In-house lawyers are employed by businesses or government and other agencies to provide in-house legal advice and other legal services.

The winners in each of the categories receive scholarship packages, to be spent on development activities for them or their team or for their community organisation.

The 2015 category winners:

CLANZ-Chapman Tripp Public Sector In-house Lawyer of the Year (Scholarship package of $5,000).

Michael Cameron, Department of Corrections, Wellington.

Michael was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in June 1996 after graduating with law and science degrees from Otago University. He is the lead legislative solicitor with the Department of Corrections and works closely with strategic and operational policy teams. He was closely involved in the development of the law to ensure smoke-free prisons and the introduction of a TV rental scheme in prisons. The judging panel says Michael Cameron has an admirable ability to engender confidence in clients across the department and his genuineness and enthusiasm are highly valued by his colleagues.

CLANZ-Greenwood Roche Chisnall Private Sector in-house Lawyer of the Year (Scholarship package of $5,000).

Michael Brooker, Foodstuffs North Island Ltd, Auckland.

Mike was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in October 1991. He is General Counsel and Company Secretary of Foodstuffs North Island Ltd, where he is responsible for managing a legal team. He was closely involved in the merger of Foodstuffs’ two North Island businesses, which created one of New Zealand’s largest businesses. This included obtaining regulatory approvals and working through many practical implementation legal issues. The judging panel says Michael Brooker has played an important role in installing a compliance culture and staying across a wide range of issues within a large and dynamic business.

CLANZ-MAS Young In-House Lawyer of the Year (Scholarship package of $5,000).

Jessica Sebastian, Whitireia Community Law Centre, Porirua.

Jessica was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in June 2013. She is a Solicitor at the Whitireia Community Law Centre and has worked there since mid-2013. As well as providing legal advice to a diverse range of clients, Jessica has developed and run 30 separate legal education seminars on 11 topics to over 600 attendees. She has also rewritten and edited a number of legal resources for the public. The judging panel says Jessica’s work has required her to give effective legal advice and represent clients from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences in several different areas of law.

CLANZ-AUT Law School Community Contribution Award (Donation of $2,000 to be made to Makara Peak Supporters).

Iain Feist, for his work with Makara Peak Supporters, Wellington.

The award is made to an in-house lawyer who has made an outstanding contribution to the community beyond their “day job”. Iain Feist is a Senior Solicitor with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. He has received the award for his involvement with the Makara Peak Supporters group which has established and now maintains a world class mountain bike park and conservation area. Iain has been involved in group governance, which has included securing Scenic Reserve status for the Park, completing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Wellington City Council, and developing short and medium term biodiversity/conservation and tracks plans.

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