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Advocate

Autumn 2012

Inside this issue:

Virtue and Vindication on Vivian Street YLC BBQ, Grad Cruise and Quiz MMP debate HIV and Sexual Offences LawSpot

The quarterly magazine of the Young Lawyers’ Committee Wellington


We pay our advisers commission in nice round figures.

% 0 Zero commission is not the traditional remuneration model for the financial services sector. But then, MAS is hardly your traditional financial services provider. Zero commission. It’s just one more way MAS acts with your best interests in mind.

Call us today Email info@mas.co.nz Visit us online at www.mas.co.nz 02  YLC Advocate

Hayley Sturt, Adviser, MAS Hamilton Branch


CONTENTS

YLC Advocate Autumn 2012 04

Editors’ Note

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Convenor’s Note

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YLC Members

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Committee Member Profile — Simon Wilson International Criminal Law Congress Law Foundation Grant

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Virtue and Vindication on Vivian Street — Alice Krzanich

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YLC“Welcome to 2012” BBQ

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MMP Review — Sandra Grey and Jordan Williams

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YLC IPLS Grad Boat Cruise

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Relationship between HIV and consent: KSB v ACC — Joseph Fitzgerald

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YLC Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Quiz Night

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LawSpot

Upcoming Events YLC DLA Phillips Fox Skills for Young Lawyers seminar: 22 May

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

YLC Speed-dating: 7 June YLC Wine & Cheese: July Workplace Wellness Seminar: TBC YLC Young Professionals’ Ball: August

Editors: Lizzie Chan & Hamish McQueen Contributors: Alice Krzanich Sandra Grey Jordan Williams Joseph Fitzgerald Layout: Rebecca Walthall

Cover photograph by Bowen Pan

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Image credits: V  ictoria University of Wellington Print History of Wellington Project, Soda Head, Madams of the Barbary Coast, Scrape TV and Scoop.


WELCOME

Editors’ note Welcome to the Autumn 2012 edition of Advocate! With the new year comes a new set of editors. We are Lizzie and Hamish, and we have both just moved down to the Capital from Auckland. We hope that you enjoy this issue’s mix of informative articles, as well as event highlights and photos.

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s new arrivals in Wellington, we have appreciated some real positive elements about the Wellington legal environment. There is a genuine sense of public spiritedness in the profession, perhaps prompted by the symbols of Parliament, the courts and public service that we are privileged to live and work around. We also enjoy the connectedness of the Wellington legal community, exemplified by the events put on by the Young Lawyers’ Committee. The profession is tight-knit and supportive. New graduates are keen to engage with each other, and senior members of the profession take a real interest in the prospects of those of us just starting our careers in the law. We hope that our first issue of Advocate reflects some of these virtues of the Wellington legal profession. Reflecting the connected nature of the Wellington profession, the YLC has had an action packed start to the year. Inside this issue we have all the goings-on from the first big events from the YLC calendar for 2012: the BBQ , the Institute of Professional Legal Studies Grad Cruise and the Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Quiz Night. Make sure to keep a look out for our next events: a speed-dating event, a speaker’s session on wellness, wine and cheese evening, and the annual ball. On the more serious side, the magazine dips into public law with competing views from Campaign for MMP and Voters for Change (formerly Vote for Change) on the Electoral Commission’s review of MMP. Joseph Fitzgerald delves into the Court of Appeal’s recent decision on non-disclosure of HIV and the vitiation of consent in sexual offences. Alice Krzanich spices things up with a great article on the history of sexual slander, starting in this very city: Vivian Street.

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There is also an article on an exciting new initiative called LawSpot (www.lawspot.org.nz) — a free online legal information website — that we encourage everyone to get involved in as a great way for young lawyers to become involved in the public service aspect of our profession. For more check out the YLC website, and make sure to join our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ younglawyerscommittee) to keep up to date with the latest YLC activities. We also thank the YLC’s general sponsors: the Medical Assurance Society and Simply Legal (soon to be called JLegal). Thanks also to Rebecca Walthall our designer and Bowen Pan for the beautiful photograph gracing the cover of Advocate.

What would you like to see included in the YLC Advocate? We’d love to hear any feedback about the magazine — especially from potential contributors! So please get in touch at elizabeth.chan@justice.govt.nz or hamish.mcqueen@justice.govt.nz.

Lizzie Chan and Hamish McQueen

LAW REVUE 2012

“LITTLE LAW OF HORRORS” Auditions Saturday 9 June 2012. Open to all Wellington young lawyers, law students and talented non-law friends. For more information, contact producer Jamie Young-Drew at james.youngdrew@gmail.com 05  YLC Advocate and check out www.facebook.com/wellingtonlawrevue


Convenor’s Note Recent debate in the United Kingdom has put the issue of marriage equality back in the public spotlight in that country. The argument has at times been heated, and not without nasty attacks from both sides, but the overall trend is very positive — the UK is undertaking an important public discussion on a fundamental human rights issue. New Zealand should be doing the same.

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hat’s possibly the most interesting thing about the marriage equality debate in the UK? It’s being led by the Conservative Party. And in the United States eight states have now passed laws allowing same-sex marriage licences. In the very recent decision of Perry v Brown (7 February 2012), the 9th-circuit United States Court of Appeals held that a proposition banning same-sex marriage in California violated the United States Constitution’s Equal Protection clause, as the Court could find not one legitimate government interest to sustain a rational basis review. The basis for the opposition to marriage equality, the Court confirmed, was driven only by animus against gays and lesbians. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, our government has classified the issue as “not a priority”. Labelling a human rights question “not a priority” is a luxury generally reserved for third-world dictatorships, not a

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country with a strong record of social progressivism and concern for human rights. If the UK conservatives can recognise and confront the issue, then surely our country can. Yet to judge from the level of political interest in New Zealand, you wouldn’t even know that a social group is being routinely and unjustifiably discriminated against. In Britain and the United States, as in New Zealand, much of the ongoing opposition to marriage equality comes from religious groups. Because the Bible (a product of 2,000-year-old social values) happens to make a couple of rather regrettable remarks about homosexuals, marriage equality opponents use this as justification for excluding that group from a basic modern-day human right. Yet marriage has long outgrown any claim by the Christian faith to exercise control over the institution (if indeed it ever did). Marriage is a state institution,


mandated by law. The government wouldn’t dream of saying that non-Christian New Zealanders — Muslim New Zealanders, Hindu New Zealanders, or indeed atheist New Zealanders — shouldn’t be allowed to marry because of their faith. Nor does the fact that they are officially non-Christian countries seem to bother Pakistan, Thailand or Israel (to name a few) who nonetheless marry off their citizens with abandon. So why do some religious believers still purport to exercise control on a citizen’s fundamental right to marry a person of their choosing? As Martin Prendergast, a Catholic LGBT leader in the UK, put it in a recent essay published in The Guardian: State and church have regularly redefined marriage and its structures over centuries due to changing cultural patterns, religious influences, and insights in social and human development.

The structures of marriage are rooted not in biology or gender difference per se, but in relationality. If not so, those with clearly no potential for fertility could not enter a valid marriage. So why does New Zealand continue to bar the doors against same-sex couples seeking to formalise their relationship commitment? If the reason, as the United States Court of Appeals suggested, is merely animus and prejudice, then surely New Zealand is better than that. As one letter to the editor in the New York Times recently observed: “if you’re not a fan of same-sex marriage, then just don’t marry someone of the same sex”. It is to our shame that New Zealand has so far been too politically timid to tackle this important issue in any meaningful way.

Dave Turner

YLC Convenor

Have you got something you’d like to say? The Young Lawyers’ Committee is the voice of young lawyers in Wellington. We meet regularly with the New Zealand Law Society to represent the views and interests of young lawyers on issues affecting the legal profession. Our role is not only to entertain and inform you, but to advocate on your behalf. If you have any issues, concerns or complaints, or anything you’d like to let us know about, email our convenor in confidence at info@younglawyers.co.nz.

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YOUNG LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE 2012

Committee Members Amberley James

Harry Rattray

Katie Williams

Ben Sanders

Heléna Cook

Matthew Jenkins

Chantelle Stirling

Lorraine Hercus

Paul Smith

David Turner

Ian Miller

Pearl Roy

Elizabeth Chan

Jamie Grant

Sarah Backhouse

Guy Carter

Jess Willis

Sarah Keast

Hadleigh Pedler

Jordan Williams

Sarah Watson

Hamish McQueen

Joseph Fitzgerald

Simon Wilson

Hannah Stallard

Katherine Leslie

Tim Cochrane

YLC Executive 2012 Convenor

David Turner

Deputy Convenor

Pearl Roy

Treasurer

Tim Cochrane

Secretary

Hannah Stallard (until April) Lorraine Hercus (from May)

Sponsorship officers

Guy Carter Sarah Watson

Marketing/membership officers

Jamie Grant Lorraine Hercus

Communications officer

Simon Wilson

Magazine editors

Elizabeth Chan Hamish McQueen

Marketing sub-committee

Jamie Grant Lorraine Hercus Guy Carter Sarah Watson

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KNOW YOUR YLC COMMITTEE?

Spotlight on SIMON WILSON Hi Simon, what’s your role on the Committee? Hi Advocate! At the beginning of this year I was elected Communications Officer for the Committee. The role basically involves communicating with members through our website and facebook pages and getting the Committee’s message out there. Did Dave make you join the Committee? I was actually encouraged to join by my previous employer. However, I know that Dave has done some very solid/persistent recruiting in the past few months and the Committee has got some great new members. What do you do outside of the Committee? I am the Legal Advisor for the Insurance Council of New Zealand (the industry representative body for fire and general insurers). It’s a very diverse role, but involves a lot of work with Government and other industry bodies, for example,

International Criminal Law Congress Law Foundation Grant The New Zealand Law Society Wellington branch recently selected Natalie Pierce as the Wellington nominee for a generous Law Foundation grant to attend the 13th annual International Criminal Law Congress in Queenstown in September. The YLC had the very difficult job of narrowing the field down to only three candidates to be interviewed by the branch, and from there those three candidates — Natalie, Claire Brighton and Maria Bagnall — gave outstanding presentations to the branch on their careers and interests. The general feedback was that we couldn’t have found three more impressive candidates! Thank you to all applicants, and we wish Natalie the best of luck in the next stage of the selection process.

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writing submissions and preparing industry protocols. I have been with the Council for the past year now and before that I was working as a solicitor in town. Why did you choose the law? Ah, good question. I guess I always wanted to be a member of the Young Lawyers’ Committee. No, probably it was more because I wanted to work in a reputable industry and try to do some good. What did you see in the Arts Festival? Enjoy it? I was lucky enough to go and see Bon Iver perform at the Town Hall. Easily one of the best concerts I have seen. Give us your best communication tip. Communication is key. Get your message out there by any means possible. P.S. Remember to like our Facebook page so you don’t miss out on any of our great upcoming events!


Virtue and Vindication on Vivian Street: a legal-historical case study In 1917, two unmarried sisters who lived and worked on Vivian Street, Wellington, found themselves in a spot of bother. It was wartime, and the sisters were accused by their landlord of being prostitutes. This was no small matter: at the time, brothel keeping was illegal. But both sisters were prepared to defend their good name in a slander action. Alice Krzanich is

a Judge’s Clerk at the Court of Appeal.

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he sisters, Isabel and Gladys Davey, rented rooms on Vivian Street, where they carried on a dressmaking business. Their landlord, Arthur Schaef, occupied rooms above them. He accused the girls of engaging in acts of prostitution in the Vivian Street premises. Schaef made his views known to others, including the editor of NZ Truth, a popular publication that specialised in scandal. This resulted in the slander claim. What was a woman’s ability to sue for sexual slander historically? Women valued a reputation for chastity in the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, until the Slander of Women Act 1898, New Zealand women could not bring slander actions for accusations of unchaste behaviour unless they could prove special damages, which could be difficult. But the 1898 Act removed that barrier, and so enabled women greater ability to protect their reputation for sexual propriety through the courts. That ability was particularly significant for the Davey sisters. During World War One, young women

who lived in New Zealand cities enjoyed a greater degree of freedom and mobility than ever before. They could attend parties and enjoy the companionship of men without a chaperone. This created an ambiguity, however, in the traditional binary between respectable, chaste women and those who were the “fallen”. The Davey sisters illustrate this ambiguity: while Isabella was engaged, Gladys was unmarried and had become pregnant following a relationship with a soldier. It was also, at this time, an offence for any person to keep or manage any house of ill-fame or brothel, defined as a place used by at least one woman for prostitution. Isabel and Gladys therefore needed to clear serious slurs upon their character. The sisters’ case was heard in the Wellington Supreme Court before a jury. Schaef gave evidence of hearing male voices from the Davey sisters’ premises and peeping through their window to witness their scandalous behaviour with men. The sisters, however, denied these allegations. Isabella, in particular, gave


evidence that Schaef had, on occasions, propositioned her. Numerous witnesses supported the sisters, including nearby business owners, who gave evidence of the girls’ industrious and hardworking nature. The jury accepted that the sisters were not prostitutes, and awarded them £625 in damages. From a historical perspective, this case shows that people of the past were not the puritans we sometimes imagine them to be. Rather, the whole case revolved around the girls’ ability to enjoy sexual encounters in the city. NZ Truth published a detailed account of the trial, showing how ripe it was for gossip. As well, although Gladys was pregnant and unmarried, this did not automatically demarcate her as “fallen”: the Judge reportedly stated that pregnancy “doesn’t prove that a girl’s a bad girl”. While the sisters did not want to be tainted with the stigma of prostitution, the case nevertheless shows that sexuality was not a hidden topic in this era, but an active source of debate and scandal. This case also illustrates the role that courts play in

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protecting reputation. The court was an arena where the Davey sisters fought to protect their good name. This was for more than just personal satisfaction: their business had dropped dramatically as a result of Schaef ’s actions. The legal action they took was therefore important in delineating whether they were proper and respectable members of the community and should be treated accordingly. This is a function the courts continue to play. People of today, like those of the past, are still interested in gossip and scandal, and courts hold the power to restore a person’s good character when such prurient interest exceeds its permissible boundaries. Worth thinking about the next time you walk down Vivian Street. You can read Alice’s full article in “Virtue and Vindication: An Historical Analysis of Sexual Slander and a Woman’s Good Name” (2011) 17 Auckland U L Rev 33.


YLC “Welcome to 2012” BBQ

Mixing and mingling on the waterfront

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he YLC packed out St John’s Bar on the Wellington waterfront for the “Welcome to 2012” BBQ — our first event of 2012. With well over 150 people turning out to take advantage of the free drinks and great company, the BBQ was a great success. A fantastic atmosphere made the BBQ ideal for catching up with friends about the summer, and for some inter-firm networking. It was great to see a mix of people from different firmsv and parts of the legal profession mingling together, and we hope to see you all back at YLC events in the future!

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THE MMP REVIEW

CONTRASTING VIEWS FROM “CAMPAIGN FOR MMP” AND “VOTERS FOR CHANGE” The Electoral Commission’s review of the Mixed Member Proportional voting system comes out of the November 2011 Referendum on the voting system, when the majority of voters (57.77 per cent of valid votes) chose to keep MMP as New Zealand’s voting system. If you want to make a submission on the review, you can make one online, by email, or by post by 31 May. Visit www. mmpreview.org.nz for more information.

Sandra Grey, Campaign for MMP Sandra Grey is a political scientist, the spokesperson for the Campaign for MMP, and the current President of the New Zealand Tertiary Education Union. “MMP — first select, then perfect” was a quip thrown out during the 2011 campaign to retain MMP. This review is our chance as voters to suggest how MMP might be “perfected”. A cautionary note is crucial here — a “perfect” electoral system does not exist. Any electoral system will require making compromises. For example, if we prioritise proportionality, we are unlikely to want a system that produces majority governments. If we want a strong Parliament, the power of executive will need to be constrained. There is one thing that must not be traded-off in the current review process. Voters have made clear that proportionality is a crucial element of our electoral system. The idea that 10 per cent of the vote gives a party 10 per cent of the seats in the House of Representatives clearly resonates with the public. So any changes to MMP’s workings should not tamper with the proportionality of the system. What is crucial to address in the review? The most common concern raised during the MMP campaign was that the current thresholds for entry into Parliament created unfair treatment of political parties and meant that some votes mattered more than others. We currently have two thresholds — winning one local electorate seat or attaining 5 per cent of the party vote. The problems with the current threshold were apparent in the public’s reactions to the 2008 election, when New Zealand First on 4.07 per cent of the vote failed to enter Parliament, while ACT on 3.65 per cent and the “electorate lifeboat” of Epsom got five seats in Parliament. In my view, the solution to this problem will be to get rid of the one seat threshold, and to lower the other threshold to 4 per cent

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(or lower). The Royal Commission on the Electoral System in 1986 had argued that the 4 per cent threshold gave minority parties a real opportunity to enter Parliament, without allowing a proliferation of minor parties that would threaten the stability and effectiveness of Parliament. It is crucial at the end of the review period for politicians to consider reforms that will increase the perceived and actual legitimacy of the MMP system. You can review Campaign for MMP’s full submission on its website: www.campaignformmp.org.nz.


Jordan Williams, Voters for Change (formerly Vote for Change) Jordan Williams is a Wellington-based commercial and public lawyer with a passion for constitutional issues, as well as the spokesman for Voters for Change. During the referendum campaign, Vote for Change argued strongly that the “review” of MMP was flawed for two reasons. First, MPs will determine what (if any) changes occur, without any guarantee that those changes will be put to Kiwis to vote on. By ticking to keep MMP, New Zealanders have left the fox to guard the hen house. Secondly, Parliament set the terms of reference for the review so tightly that little can result to “fix” MMP anyway. While both pro and anti-MMP campaigns agreed that desirable changes to MMP can be made, only widespread public participation in the review will ensure that there is the political pressure needed to force our politicians’ hands and make our voting system more accountable. Most of the public discussion on the “review” is likely to be focused on the thresholds: the “one seat” threshold and the five per cent party vote threshold. Voters for Change has publicly called for the one seat threshold to be abolished. A system that purports to be proportional should not have a rule that undermines the proportionality that MMP tries to achieve. The party vote threshold is a more difficult question. Most leftwing groups and the unions that spent large on the campaign to keep MMP argue that without the one seat threshold, a five per cent threshold is too high for new parties to get into Parliament. But we should be cautious of a lower threshold that increases the chance of further fragmentation of Parliament and more complex governing arrangements. More small parties holding the balance of power inevitably leads to more government spending as a result of postelection negotiations. MMP allows the party or parties holding the balance of power to force Labour and National to spend money placating the small party’s particular voting bloc.

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Put the changes to the people

The main theme of Voters for Change’s submission to the Electoral Commission will emphasise that the “review” process sets a dangerous precedent for constitutional change. Kiwi voters will have no opportunity to reject any changes that the politicians propose after the Commission has reported. Our voting system should be controlled by voters. The “review” of MMP should have occurred before the 2011 referendum so that the changes could be put to the people. More is needed than requiring cross-party consensus on electoral matters. Changes to our voting system should be put to the people in referenda.


YLC IPLS Grad Boat Cruise

More fun than a night out on the Rena!

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round 55 law grads braved choppy conditions for this year’s Grad Cruise. With skipper Paul Gubb at the helm, we enjoyed a night of smooth sailing on the Sweet Georgia, getting to know other young lawyers. Those on board were treated to delicacies: starting with home-made meatballs and spring rolls, delicious ham with cranberry sauce and feta salad for the main, and finishing off with scrumptious chocolate balls. The cosiness of the boat made a great environment to get to know new people. There was a great diversity of people in attendance from law firms, government departments and the courts, plus a couple of non-lawyers (a diplomat, a Chinese language teacher, a banker and a midwife). It was a great way to start off the year for brand-new lawyers!

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Relationship between HIV and consent: KSB v ACC

DOES HIV-POSITIVE STATUS VITIATE CONSENT? AN ANALYSIS OF KSB v ACCIDENT COMPENSATION CORPORATION Things don’t get much more private or complicated than sexual relationships and issues of sexual health. Drawing hard and fast boundary lines can be tricky, and judicial intervention has generally been limited to cases where it is absolutely necessary. Joseph Fitzgerald is a solicitor at Simpson Grierson.

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n the recent decision of KSB v Accident Compensation Corporation [2012] NZCA 82, the Court of Appeal was faced with such an issue — should a failure to disclose one’s HIV status vitiate consent to sexual intercourse? The Court answered in the affirmative, going against the consensus in the majority of other Common Law jurisdictions. By failing to disclose his HIV positive status, the appellant’s partner had altered the very “nature and quality” of the act of sexual intercourse, vitiating consent and making the act an “offence” for the purposes of claims for mental injury under s 21 of the Accident Compensation Act 2001.

Facts

Issue on Appeal

The appellant in KSB sought compensation from ACC for a mental injury that she suffered after learning that her partner was HIV positive. Although the appellant did not become infected with HIV, she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the experience. The partner was convicted of criminal nuisance under s 145 of the Crimes Act 1961.

The main issue before the Court of Appeal was whether the appellant’s partner’s failure to disclose his HIV positive status vitiated her consent to sexual intercourse, so as to constitute a sexual violation as defined in s 128(1) of the Crimes Act.

The appellant was initially denied ACC cover for her post-traumatic stress disorder under s 21(1) of the Accident Compensation Act. Under s 21(1), an individual receives cover for a mental injury caused by an “act” within the description of an offence described in sch 3. Schedule 3 lists a number of offences, most of which are sex-related offences. It does not include criminal nuisance, the offence that the appellant’s partner had been convicted of. The appellant brought a claim to the High Court on the grounds that she could point to another causative act under sch 3 — sexual violation as defined in s 128(1) of the Crimes Act. The appellant was unsuccessful in the High Court.

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Analysis Section 128A of the Crimes Act sets out a number of circumstances in which allowing sexual activity does not amount to consent. These include where the complainant is mistaken about the “nature or quality” of the act. The appellant argued that her partner’s failure to disclose his HIV positive status caused her to be mistaken as to the “nature or quality” of the act. While the risk of infection was small, the potential consequences were great. The Court canvassed the overseas jurisprudence on this point. With the exception of Canada, the other major Common Law jurisdictions had opted to define the concept of “nature and quality” narrowly, refusing to recognise that failure to disclose one’s HIV positive status could alter the “nature” of an act. However, the Court of Appeal preferred the wider approach to “nature and quality” found in the Canadian decision of R v Currier [1998] 2 SCR 371. The Court concluded that in the present case, failing


to disclose HIV status before engaging in unprotected sex changed the nature and quality of the act due to the associated risk of serious harm. Therefore the appellant’s partner’s non-disclosure of his HIV status was held to vitiate her consent. In coming to its conclusion, the Court refused to define the exact boundaries of a mistake as to the “nature and quality” of a sexual act, leaving the position to be properly tested in a criminal context with appropriate evidence. The Court also admitted that there was force in the submission that the majority approach in Currier may be too wide, requiring disclosure of virtually any known risk of harm potentially capable of vitiating consent. An argument could be made that the “mistake” in such cases would not go to the “nature and quality” of the act, but rather to its consequences. However, these arguments were rejected in favour of the wider approach adopted in Currier.

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Opinion The end result appears to be a fair one. However, the path the court had to take to get there leaves me a bit uneasy. Whether failing to disclose one’s HIV status should attract a criminal sanction is a tricky issue in itself. But assuming it does warrant a criminal sanction, achieving that sanction by bundling it into s 128 seems like a rushed response. The harm being addressed here is the exposure of an individual to a potentially life-threatening disease: a very different harm to that addressed by s 128, and one that probably deserves its own offence to avoid distorting the purpose of s 128. The result seems just, however, the method highlights the need for some legislative attention in this area.


YLC MINTER ELLISON RUDD WATTS QUIZ NIGHT

The battle of Anzac Eve On Anzac Eve 2012, 150 young professionals packed into Dockside ready to battle over who would be crowned the “Young Lawyers’ Committee Quiz Night Champions 2012”.

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he night began like any classy affair — with small talk, pinot noir and olives. A few beers and spring rolls later, the Quiz Master extraordinaire Michael Dobson had punters participating in push up competitions, providing novelty answers, singing along with Taylor Swift, and even had one young-lawyer-turned-composer performing a love ballad.

Teams were tested on their knowledge of French politics, geography, quality 90s music, the Crafar farms and other trivia. With the leaders’ board tied up entering the final round, it was Fo Quizzle my Nizzle’s knowledge of Victoria’s Secret model, Gisele Bündchen, that surged the fanatical team to victory. Al-Q‘uiz’eda — Sleeper Cell (who obviously missed that lecture at law school) finished a commendable second. Thank you to all the teams which so eagerly participated throughout the evening. A special thanks to the Palmy Army (Manawatu Young Lawyers), representatives from MASterMind (MAS), and Best of the Branch (the New Zealand Law Society) for attending. YLC would like to make a further thank you to the Quiz evening’s sponsor Minter Ellison Rudd Watts. And finally, to all the businesses who supported the evening by providing a magical array of prizes including Dockside, DLA Phillips Fox, Hell Pizza, Reading Cinemas, Subway, Les Mills, Habitual Fix, Pandoro, Rahzoo, Mojo, Paramount Cinemas, the Body Shop and Kirkcaldie & Stains — thank you. P.S. For all the young keen quiz beans, due to the overwhelming popularity of the quiz night, we will be back for another round in late 2012!

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LAWSPOT

The Community Law Centre Receives a Digital Makeover A new type of community law service is on the horizon — only this time it takes place on the Internet.

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he initiative, called LawSpot, is a nonprofit online legal Q&A service that provides members of the public with free access to reliable legal information without leaving the house. The website is designed so that anyone can go online to ask general questions about New Zealand law, and the questions are then answered by qualified lawyers in a public forum. Here’s how it works: 1. A member of the public has a question about New Zealand law that they don’t know the answer to. 2. That person jumps online to www.lawspot. org.nz to submit his or her question. 3. The question is then vetted by a group of volunteers who categorise it, and make sure that nothing in the question would reveal the identity of the person who asked it. 4. The question then joins a pool of approved questions, which can then be answered by a qualified lawyer from a group of volunteers. 5. The lawyer’s answer is then monitored by supervisors from the Wellington Community Law Centre. All approved answers are published on the website. LawSpot is co-founded by Maya Shino (Russell McVeagh) and Bowen Pan (Trade Me), in partnership with the Wellington Community Law Centre. LawSpot’s patron is former Attorney-General and Speaker of the House, Hon Margaret Wilson DCNZM.

The New Zealand project follows a general trend over recent years where communityorientated programmes are beginning to move into the digital sphere. A similar service has been successful in the United States, and has received a number of awards from a variety of publications, including Forbes, PC World, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. LawSpot is currently being piloted in the Wellington region. The project is partnered with the Wellington Community Law Centre and LawSpot is recruiting Wellington-based lawyer volunteers. But LawSpot is looking to launch nationwide in the coming months and will be recruiting volunteers from other parts of New Zealand.

If you’re interested in being involved (whether you’re from Wellington or not), please contact recruitment@lawspot.org.nz. In the meantime, “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ LawSpot and follow us on Twitter: @lawspot_ NZ. General queries can be directed to support@ lawspot.org.nz.

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www.younglawyers.co.nz 24  YLC Advocate

YLC Advocate Autumn 2012  

The quarterly magazine of the Young Lawyers' Committee Wellington

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