The appointment to the District Court of senior barrister Kate Davenport KC saw the popular barrister write a powerful and poignant farewell to Bankside, the Chambers she worked from for 16 years.
She was sworn in as a DCJ on 21 February and is to sit in Auckland. Although she had not entered our Power List, she was always nudging entry to the List, as we noted with an earlier report when she lead the NZ Bar Association.
In a LinkedIN post, Kate Davenport pointed out her naivete when she joined the bar 30 years ago with little idea of the challenges, requirements and day-to-day need to have clients who might brief her and let her pay Chambers’ rent and herself.
Being a woman at the bar was also a situation that raised some eyebrows and awkward questions, including senior lawyers who provided some in-house cross-examination as to when she would be starting a family and the contraception methods she used.
“I was completely naive about the challenges of the Bar and gave no thought to the fact that I would have to attract clients to earn a living, pay rent, my PA and my nanny. I have never really lost the fear that there will be no more work. But amazingly it has all worked out and 30 years later, I still have work (but still fret about it) and still love being a barrister.”
But there are some things she will not miss about her new role on the bench. Stress and over-work being two.
“But I won’t miss the stress of the work, I won’t miss the fact that unless a case can be settled every case is win or lose. When you lose, your clients will question your advice and you will question it yourself.
“I won’t miss receiving those letters which are the equivalent of a Harry Potter howler letter, the ones which must have been written when the other lawyer had been having an exceptionally bad day and feels like they need to take their anger out on someone else.
And I won’t miss the relentless pressure of the job.”