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New Law Society President Steps Up

New Law Society President Steps Up 3
New Law Society President Steps Up 4

The new Law Society President Tiana Epati, 43, has taken the reins at the Law Society in what it hopes will be better times than the scandal-ridden prior term lead by Kathryn Beck.

Ms Epati, no. 20 on the LawFuel Power List,  is both the first Pacifica president of the Law Society and also one of the youngest to have reached the office. She is also fourth woman to have achieved the distinction of serving.

At 43 years old, Tiana Epati is one of the youngest Presidents elected. She is also the fourth woman to have been elected since the first President in 1897.

The Law Society’s release – She is a partner with Gisborne law firm Rishworth Wall & Mathieson. Ms Epati was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in September 2000 after graduating from Auckland University with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and history and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB).

Ms Epati is the 31st elected President and replaces Kathryn Beck, who has completed her three-year term.

“Kathryn did an incredible job, leading the Law Society through what has been a challenging time – particularly last year which was largely consumed by disturbing allegations of inappropriate behaviour by some members of the legal community. She drove and fronted the Law Society’s work in addressing these issues – sexual harassment and bullying. She has been a truly inspirational leader,” she says.

As new President Ms Epati says 2019 is the year of delivery of several workstreams already underway.

“We’ll be working on how to implement the recommendations of the Working Group led by Dame Silvia Cartwright on our regulatory system, to ensure we have an effective complaints regime to deal with, and deter, unacceptable behaviour,” she says.

Another key priority is the delivery of an action plan by the Law Society’s Culture Change Taskforce in November.

“This will be a blueprint for long term culture change within the legal community. The taskforce is a key player in developing a strategic framework and action plan that will support the creation and maintenance of healthy, safe, respectful, and inclusive legal workplaces,” Ms Epati says.

Kathryn Beck is the chair of the Taskforce.

Other priority areas for Ms Epati include progressing the conversation around access to justice.

“I want to see the Law Society driving initiatives which support changes to our justice system to ensure people who are affected by legal problems can access legal assistance.

“Most, if not all, of us became lawyers to be of service to the community, to do something good and to make a positive impact. It’s a privilege to be a lawyer and with that comes obligations and responsibilities. We take an oath to be admitted into practice and we need to remember that.”

>> See the LawFuel Power List Here


  1. The New Zealand Law Society announced last week that a senior Wellington lawyer Andrew Maclean Morrison was suspended from practicing law for six months after tampering with a trust document. However, the good news is that Court of Appeal judgments can still be altered by lawyers whenever they determine it’s in the interest of their clients to do so.

    The precedent for this remedy can be found in CA193/2003 [2015] NZCA 579 Para (31). The Court of Appeal led by President Justice Stephen Kos said; “Some form of error seems to have occurred given the discrepancy between (Mr Chapman’s) judgment and the (Court’s) sealed order but we are unable to determine after the event how this came about or which version is correct”

    This is an iron clad guarantee that New Zealand Courts are now prepared to favour a lawyer’s alternative judgment over their own sealed orders. Please contact Wellington law firm Johnston Lawrence for advice on the “Chapman precedent” when altering court orders, or the New Zealand Law Society for confirmation that materially changing a court order by a solicitor is not considered misconduct.

    Lawyer Ross van der Schyff is the Registrar for the Companies Office, his appointment as the General Manager of Business Integrity Services reflects the Government’s brilliant policy of appointing senior civil servants either without qualifications or completely lacking in morals, ethics and scruples.
    Mr van der Schyff excelled in his former role as manager of the Insolvency and Trustee Service, where he made his mark by approving fraudulent debts based upon the “Chapman precedent”

    His policy, now adopted by numerous government departments against transparency or disclosure of any kind, will render any number of fiduciary relationships completely unenforceable, which is precisely how we like do business in New Zealand.

    Unhindered by statutes or legal limits, Mr van der Schyff is praised by the Law Society for his contribution to Insolvency law. By having the courage to reject sealed Court orders in favour of a lawyer’s alternative judgment, he was personally responsible for the first ever bankruptcy of a solvent citizen in New Zealand.

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