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New Year message from The Law Association President, Tony Herring

2 Feb 2024

| Author: Tony Herring

Happy New Year to you all and I trust you’ve been able to have a decent holiday break.

As we head into 2024, I want to update you on what The Law Association has in store for the coming year, with some exciting new initiatives in the pipeline for our members.

First up, following Sue Keppel’s retirement last year, The Law Association council has appointed an interim CEO to steer the ship until a permanent chief executive can be found. We are actively recruiting for this role – in fact, you’ll find a job ad on page 11 of this issue of LawNews, along with details on how to take the next step if you’re interested in applying for the role. Clearly, it’s a critical appointment for The Law Association and we want to take the time to get it right.

In the meantime, we’ve engaged Ashley Smout as interim CEO. Ashley is an experienced CEO with a corporate background that includes CEO and COO of Airways Corporation, COO and CCO of NZ Post, general manager (Auckland) of The Property Group and general manager of Emergent (a recruitment company). He also has wide experience as a business and leadership coach. Ashley is looking forward to getting out and meeting you and helping to make The Law Association even better.

Ashley steps into the role at a time when The Law Association is going from strength to strength. Membership numbers have grown strongly to 6700, meaning we now have a membership relationship with nearly half of the New Zealand legal profession. And although our head office is in Auckland, 44% of our members now live and practise outside the city. So we’re a truly national organisation and the only independent representative organisation for lawyers in the country.

So what’s on the cards for this year? Expect to see some exciting developments on our WebForms platform. Council has approved the business case to develop WebForms 3.0 and we’ve begun work on this project which is designed to improve the user experience and make it easier for lawyers and legal executives to integrate the forms with their own software. There’s a strong focus on cybersecurity to ensure those forms remain tamperproof.

We’ll also be releasing a new edition of the Deed of Lease which will be a significant update on previous versions. We’ll develop some CPD around it and are planning to organise a roadshow, with experts explaining the changes and how everything works. Our Deed of Lease is known to be the most evenly balanced agreement between landlord and tenant when compared with other lease forms in the market. The new document includes our learnings from the covid-19 pandemic and our ongoing learnings from the Canterbury earthquakes. It will be a big deal for commercial property lawyers.

The Law Association has also been building relationships with the new government. Attorney-General Judith Collins KC is a former President of The Law Association and to kick off the year on a high note, we’re hosting her at a members’ breakfast at The Northern Club at the end of next month.

Cradle to Grave event is well advanced. When I can, I will continue to attend our collegiality events which will be held at various centres around the country this year. These are a great forum for lawyers to meet in a relaxed environment over some food and a beer or a glass of wine. And finally, our flagship publication LawNews is about to undergo radical change by getting its own website. This means we can offer members and other subscribers legal news, features, opinion and committee updates in real time rather than once a week.

I look forward to catching up with you at one of our Law Association events. We have a big and exciting year ahead. ■

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