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Briefcase: Mars & Venus; Sex and the Summer Clerks

Briefcase, – John Bowie

From Mars & Venus to Sex and the Summer Clerks

Mars and Venus

“It’s like Mars and Venus” Auckland District Law Society president Keith Berman told me – and he wasn’t talking personal relationships, but rather about the current frosty relationship between the ADLS and the NZ Law Society. The issue is what the ADLS’s role would be in respect of the provision of representative services to the profession under the new, Lawyers and Conveyancers Act. The communication breakdown has seen the NZLS “steadfastly refuse” to meet or mediate with the ADLS. The NZLS have now appointed a consultant to advise on the best way forward, doubtless at vast cost to the membership. The ADLS have already prepared a detailed business plan on how they see the delivery of representative services as Auckland already publishes around 50 legal forms, including the eponymous property agreement, along with a range of other services. It’s perplexing to imagine what the underlying issues are here given that no other district has the capacity or experience to deliver the services. Certainly NZLS president John Marshall is not a stumbling block here and has worked towards the One Society outcome, but there’s something or someone in the bowels of the NZLS bureaucracy who don’t like the thought of Auckland foisting their plan upon the rest of the profession. Meanwhile, Auckland’s special meeting to consider its incorporation as an independent association is coming up on 21 August. Keith Berman tells me that if that occurs, there will be no competition with the national body, but rather an organization that provides complementary services.

Crying Coroner

The Wairarapa’s Jock Kershaw, the so-called “crying coroner,” has retired in accordance with the new regime imposed under the 2006 Coroners Act. Personally I think the local knowledge brought to these often difficult and frequently tragic cases by empathetic professionals like Jock Kershaw is a loss to their local communities and may well itself end in, well, tears. Certainly there was a much-deserved uproar when the capital’s fearless and doughty coroner Gary Evans was to be replaced (a decision since reversed). Meanwhile, Jock Kershaw goes out with a great mystery to solve in his retirement – the case of the European woman who died in the Southern Wairarapa some decades before the Europeans had supposedly arrived in New Zealand.

Winston and the X Files

Surely even the walking frame-aided Winston voters in Papamoa are beginning to tire of Winston Peter’s endless claims of X Files conspiracy theories. Now he’s facing Privileges Committee, SFO, possible police and other enquiries. Winston presumably learnt these attack-dog tactics at the knee of his mentor, Rob Muldoon, but his problem has always been that he’s neither as bright nor as ruthless as his father figure. He just has better hair and suits.

TreeLords & Lawyers

Evidently lawyers are excluded from the initial stages of the Treelords carve-up, which is restricted to Rangitira and others as they determine the carve up the acreage and funds in one of the country’s biggest-ever land deals, the province-sized transfer of 176,000 hectares and $223 million. Still, the lawyers will come back into play in the fullness of time. Meanwhile, the massive deal was undoubtedly a coup for boutique property practice Greenwood Roche Chisnall who landed the legal heavy lifting.

Sex and the Summer Associate

Summer clerk recruitment can be a highly fraught affair, not the least because of a degree (now hold your breath here) of sexual tension that accompanies this seducement process of young lawyers is frequently undertaken by only slightly less-young lawyers. Sample 1: A Wellington straight-A bright star who was taken to a local strip joint and, far from being excited at the prospect, was affronted by the bawdy efforts to show him a good time to the point where he rejected the job offer from a ‘Top Trio’ firm. Sample 2: The large London branch of US mega firm Shearman & Sterling took an intern to the Windmill Club, another strip joint, where she was alleged sexually harassed by an associate and fled home in tears. The firm apologized and said it was, in essence, not their fault even though a firm credit card paid their entrance fee. “This guy’s an associate and I’m an intern,” she said. “I didn’t want to p*ss him off”. Presumably that doesn’t bother her now, because it’s all over the legal media.


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