The Law Society of New Zealand has confirmed that Anderson Lloyd partner Frazer Barton will continue to serve as President for another 12 months.
He previously held the position of Vice President (South Island) on the Law Society Board until November 2022, and chaired the People and Capabilities Committee. He also has extensive governance experience outside the Law Society, serving on the boards and councils of the University of Otago, Columba College, and Presbyterian Support Otago.
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Barton’s re-election makes him the first South Island-based President of the Law Society since Austin Forbes KC, who held the position from 1993-1996.
The Law Society has had a troubled time of late with the resignation of elected president Jacque Lethbridge (left) last October, following the Heron report into the Society’s ‘culture’ and the additional surprise resignation of the Society CEO.
This was followed by the Society keeping its culture change draft report under wraps by the task force that had been set up at considerable expense and which has reported on issues within the law profession’s culture and how they should be dealt with. The Society’s decision has reportedly left many disappointed, including those who served on the task force.
The ructions in the Law Society and the issues over the culture change report signal underlying issues that the Society and its President will need to work to correct.
In a statement, Frazer Barton expressed his pride in the work that the Law Society and the wider profession are doing to modernize, transform, and adapt. He also highlighted the importance of the Independent Review for shaping the future of the Law Society and the regulation of lawyers.
He said that the transformation and modernization of the legal profession are essential to meeting the needs of modern New Zealand and maintaining trust and confidence in the legal profession. He acknowledged the contribution of over 16,000 lawyers in New Zealand and expressed gratitude for their work in building a country and a profession to be proud of.