LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – The search is on to find New Zealand’…

LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – The search is on to find New Zealand’s most promising new lawyer.

Nominations and applications for the 2007 Cleary Memorial Prize are now open and will close on 31 August.

This prestigious award is open to any barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand who was admitted after 31 July 2004. The key criterion in selecting the winner is that he or she gives great promise of service to and through the profession.

The prize was first awarded in 1964 to David Baragwanath, now a judge of the High Court and a former president of the New Zealand Law Commission.

The Supreme Court’s Justice Andrew Tipping was the next winner. After 11 years on the High Court bench, he was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 1997, became a member of the Privy Council in 1998 and was appointed to the Supreme Court from January 2004. Justice Tipping is a former president of the Canterbury District Law Society and the chair of the Council of Legal Education.

Victoria University law professor John Prebble took the honours in 1968 and former NZLS president Austin Forbes QC won in 1970.

More recently, Nicole Moreham (a 1998 joint winner), Hanna Wilberg (1999) and Rachel Carnachan (2001) have gone on to gain funding from the New Zealand Law Foundation’s Ethel Benjamin Award to study overseas. Joanna Mossop, the 2000 winner, also won the $40,000 Fulbright Buddle Findlay Award in Law, enabling her to study at Columbia University in New York for two years.

The 2005 Cleary Prize winner was Jonathan Scragg. A champion mooter and debater, Jonathan has made a significant contribution to the Canterbury District Law Society’s Library Committee and was a member of the Council of Legal Education from 2002 to 2005.

The latest winner was Malcolm Birdling, who last year left his employment with the Court of Appeal to take up a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, where he is studying towards a BCL. Well known for the exceptionally high standard of his academic performance, Malcolm is also a champion mooter and, in 2005, received a Community Trust of Wellington Young Community Leader Award for his work in pro bono law, youth health and with the Human Rights Commission.

The Cleary Memorial Prize is awarded each year to a practitioner admitted within the previous three years and adjudged as giving the most promise of service to and through the profession having regard to:

personal character;
qualities of leadership as shown by achievement and service at school and at university;
reliability, progress and enthusiasm displayed in practical training in preparation for the practice of law;
academic attainments; and
interest and participation in general activities.
Candidates may apply direct – or others may nominate them.

The prize was instituted in memory of Sir Timothy Cleary, past president of both the Wellington District and New Zealand Law Societies and a judge of the Court of Appeal until his death in 1962. The payment of the prize is drawn from the income of a fund subscribed to by judges and practitioners in Wellington and beyond in gratitude for Sir Timothy’s friendship and to keep his example before young people entering the profession. More recently the Law Foundation also provided a capital contribution.

There is no official nomination/application form. Nominations or applications, along with relevant information, reports, testimonials and, if possible, a report from the dean of the law faculty attended by the nominee/applicant, should reach the Executive Director, New Zealand Law Society, PO Box 5041 or DX SP20202, Wellington, by Friday 31 August 2007.

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