Kathryn Beck, founding partner of SBM Legal and vice president of the New Zealand Law Society (NZLS), has now been elected president of the Society – a role which she will take over from Chris Moore in April 2016.
Beck said her experience as vice-president has given her a good idea of the key areas of focus for her future term.
Access to justice is a cause which Beck feels strongly about for the profession and the community.
“The barriers to accessing justice are many and varied and the reality is that we cannot address them all,” she told NZLawyer. “However, we can and must take steps to do what we can, when we can.”
To accomplish this goal, Beck aims at supporting existing programs and investigating measures for delivering justice differently across New Zealand.
The promotion and retention of women in the law is another area which Beck will continue to focus on.
“I am already working with interest groups, speaking at young lawyers’ events and communicating with organisations and other practitioners outside our jurisdiction to draw on their experience.”
“While it sounds trite, we need to start doing things that actually work. In my view, this requires us backing ourselves and committing to targets and then putting concrete programs in place – based on what has worked elsewhere – to meet those targets.”
Beck will become the third female president of the New Zealand Law Society once she takes up the role next year.
“As the president of NZLS, I hope to be one of a number of role models that woman lawyers can look to so they know they can achieve a successful and fulfilling career as a woman in the law,” she said.
Finally, Beck aims at increasing the connectivity amongst New Zealand’s legal community.
“As a profession it is easy to become focused on your own practice, area of law or province,” She said. “However, as a profession we do our best work when we draw from each other’s experiences and work together.”
As she met people around the country prior to being elected, Beck said the legal community as a whole desired greater connectivity and an environment where their voice was valued equally with others.
“I will be looking at ways in which we can improve our connectivity as a profession and build on the work that NZLS already does as a representative organisation,” she added.