Allister Davis, partner at Clark Boyce Lawyers, sits down with NZ Lawyer to talk about criminal law, the New Zealand Law Society and seizing the moment in life.
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I went to university and started to do a double degree. I was going to be a teacher and then I fell in love with criminal law and evidence and that was the end of me. I followed it through with an LLB.
How long have you worked at Clark Boyce and what brought you to this position?
I’ve been here for thirty years. I knew one of the partners through rugby, did some work pro bono, got a job, and here I am thirty years later.
What’s the memorable case you’ve ever worked on?
The most memorable would be one women charged with murder. She was the only client that I’ve ever had who’s written me a thankyou card. That sticks in my mind. I’ve also had a number of strange cases – like that Afghani who stabbed a bunch of people for no good reason a few years ago.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Colin Meads from the All Blacks, Robin Williams and JFK. I’ve always idolised Colin Meads. I think he’s an amazing person – very humble, very down to earth. For Robin Williams, I have the same sort of quirky sense of humour that he had. And JFK would provide some intelligent conversation.
Where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work in Christchurch
My favourite restaurant is a restaurant called @Tony’s in Riccarton. It’s a Japanese restaurant. The best thing is the fried rice by a country mile but the whole lot is fine. It’s just unbelievably good food.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s only a job but always do your very best. My mother told me that and reminds me constantly about it.
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I paint, I play golf, I have a holiday home I visit in Akaroa, I have a beautiful partner who I spend a lot of time with, and I do a lot of walking with my dogs. So I have a number of interests and hobbies. I try to make the time for them because a very good friend of mine who was also a lawyer died about fifteen years ago. I remember him ringing up the day before he died in a car accident; he asked if I wanted a game of golf and I said, “No, I’m too busy”. Ever since then, I have made the time. That’s a lesson of life, I suppose.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
…a chef. I love cooking.
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand in 2016?
The reinvigoration of the New Zealand Law Society provincial branch offices. Most of the lawyers in New Zealand are in Auckland and I think at times the branches just get forgotten. I think the NZLS has to work double hard to get the branches to re-engage.
If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
I would address the child poverty issues in New Zealand. I’d probably institute meals into schools below decile five.
What do you love about your job?
Every day is a different day; every job is a different job. I can meet different people from all walks of life. I’ve been very lucky – I’ve met a vast array of people and I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I hadn’t been a lawyer.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
I would change the criminal procedure act to make it workable. It’s clearly been drafted by somebody who’s never set foot in a court. The fact that the accused is supposed to enter a plea on their second appearance is ludicrous. The fact that they require at least multiple hearings with multiple forms to be filled out is just a waste of time. It can be streamlined to be a lot better. An accused person can not set foot in the court until the day of the hearing and that might take six to eight months. It just seems to me to be a ridiculous situation.