For longest-serving active partner in NZ, the legal profession’s core is ‘much the same’

by Sol Dolor24 May 2019

The legal landscape and the business of law may have evolved over the decades, but for Arthur Young, the longest-serving active law firm partner in New Zealand, the legal profession’s core remains “much the same.”

Young, who still leads the private client practice at Chapman Tripp, is celebrating his 60th year as a partner of the top firm. At 84, he has “no firm plans to retire,” Chapman Tripp said.

Young was admitted to the bar in 1958 and became a junior partner on 1 April 1959 at Sheffield and Young, which later merged to become Chapman Tripp Sheffield Young.

“It is incredible to reflect on the past 60 years and how the legal landscape has changed,” he said. “Early on, it was the days of stamp duty and death duty, and trying to trim those down, going to the Land Transfer Office in person to have the memorials written up in the great heavy ledgers, turning up to have the registrations, and you had to get there at 8am to be ahead of the queue.”

He said that in practical terms, the law has changed a great deal, but the profession remains true to what he sees as its core.

“Lots of law has changed enormously, but actually much is the same. Our work involves dealing with people, and human nature, if it changes at all, is only gradual in its change,” he said.

Arthur Young

Young worked for 25 years with his first principal, Joe Sheffield, whom he credits for a guiding principle he holds to this day.

“What he imbued in me was [that] the client comes first, that you have to do the best for the client, and that it doesn’t matter who they are. It has stuck with me and I still try and live up to that,” he said.

Nick Wells, Chapman Tripp executive partner, spoke highly of Young’s contributions to the firm.

“His intellectual rigour, unfailing enthusiasm, wide experience and dedication to service has helped shaped Chapman Tripp into the firm it is today. His private clients trust and rely on his judgment, gentlemanly approach and personal touch,” he said.

Chapman Tripp said that Young plans to continue working, mentioning that the senior partner jokes that he is just in “the second half” of his career.

“I keep working partly for the intellectual stimulation, partly the sense of wanting to do the best thing for the clients, but a major thing is the people I work with. We have a wonderful team,” said Young.