DLA Piper elevates two to special counsel

by Sol Dolor27 Mar 2019

DLA Piper has appointed Melissa Johnston in Auckland and Emma Moran in Wellington to special counsel.

“These appointments are a continuation of our long-standing commitment to promote the best legal talent across our practice groups and build seamless international capabilities, ultimately granting our clients unrivalled expertise wherever they do business,” said Martin Wiseman, country managing partner.

Johnston has also been named the global firm’s pro bono director for New Zealand. DLA Piper said that it has the best record among the country’s major law firm in the appointment of women to senior positions.

Johnston, who joined the firm in 2015, said that DLA Piper stands out among firms for being firmly committed to improving social outcomes. She explained how the firm’s global New Perimeter program, makes a difference in New Zealand and the region.

“Its mission is to benefit communities, and especially women, in post-conflict and developing countries. Locally we are reaching out to the Pacific, in places like Fiji and Vanuatu and running pro bono projects. Our staff – not just the firm’s lawyers – are volunteering for a large number of projects, focusing on displaced persons, refugee assistance, and child justice,” she said.

Johnston, who is also qualitied in England and Wales, also has extensive experience in employment-relations matters, having appeared in tribunals and courts in the UK and in New Zealand.

“She has a deep knowledge of the healthcare and retail sectors globally, and brings strong advocacy skills to every negotiation, with a shrewd understanding of client goals and a high degree of preparedness,” DLA Piper said.

Moran, who moved to DLA Piper in 2016, is a specialist in litigation in the local government and public law, building and construction, insurance, and commercial sectors. She is known for her ability find solutions in seemingly intractable situations, the firm said.

“I believe in simplifying issues, not complicating them,” Moran said. “I have appeared as an advocate at most levels of courts and before specialist tribunals. That helps to develop a keen sense of what the other side – and the ultimate decision-maker – is thinking and wants.”

“My approach is assertive and strategic; I don’t shy away from taking cases to court if necessary, but I negotiate hard to find common ground and I pursue alternative forms of dispute resolution where possible. What gives me the most satisfaction is enabling my clients to get on with their lives without being distracted by disputes. I like to think I can see past the commotion to the core of the cases I take on,” she said.

The promotions come after the firm’s appointed Davida Dunphy as partner.

Melissa Johnston and Emma Moran