Lawyers take silk

by Hannah Norton29 Jul 2015
Auckland barrister Margaret Casey, Wellington/Auckland barrister Mark O’Brien and Victoria University professor Richard Boast have been appointed Queen’s Counsel, Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson QC announced on Friday.

Finlayson said the appointment to the rank of Queen’s Counsel recognised independent advocates who have excelled at the highest level of law.

“The appointment of three Queen’s Counsel this year marks a return to more typical appointment numbers after two years of increased numbers due to the absence of appointments from 2008 to 2012.”

Appointments of Queen’s Counsel are made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Attorney-General and with the concurrence of the Chief Justice.

A Victoria University alumnus, O’Brien joined the joined the Wellington firm Young Swan McKay & Co in 1979 while at University, before moving to London joining the litigation team at Speechly Bircham in 1982.

On his return to New Zealand, he joined Bell Gully in Wellington where he made partner in 1988. In 2013, he joined the independent bar.

His specialist area of expertise is general commercial litigation particularly oil and gas industry issues, competition law, insurance/reinsurance, property, banking and insolvency, and general contract and company law work.

O’Brien told NZLawyer he was delighted with the appointment, and “looking forward to the next stage of what has been an interesting career”.

The next stage included “more of the same, but with changing emphasis and possibly more appearance work.”

He enjoys the broad spectrum that general commercial law offers.  “You get to know interesting people, delve into different industries and fields and apply facts and law to a variety of situations.”   

Overall, his favourite part of being a lawyer was the “continuing variety of issues and solutions, and the continuing challenge”.

Auckland barrister Margaret Casey was preparing for a High Court trial in Christchurch yesterday, and so was only able to quickly email NZLawyer a few details about herself.

An Auckland University alumna, Casey joined Fortune Manning Law Partnership in 1984 before moving to Rennie Cox Garlick & Sparling in 1986.

Between 1991 and 1993 she attended Kings College London, where she graduated with a Masters of Law (with Merit).

“I commenced at the bar in 1993 after my return from completing my LLM in London,” she said.

“Given my age, gender and area of practice that was quite unusual at that time.”

Her specialist areas of expertise are family law matters with particular emphasis on relationship property, trust advice, Hague Convention and parenting rights in adoption, surrogacy and assisted reproduction.

The Attorney-General highlighted the third appointment of Victoria University professor Richard Boast.

“Of particular note is the appointment of Richard Boast who has been appointed under the Royal prerogative in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the law and in particular the legal history of New Zealand.”

Boast graduated with a Master of Arts from Waikato University and a Master of Laws from Victoria University and was admitted to the Bar in 1979.

He is a professor at Victoria University specialising in property law and Maori legal issues and legal history, who has authored or co-authored various books and articles in the areas of natural resources law, New Zealand legal history and the law relating to the Treaty of Waitangi.

Professor Boast could not be reached for comment.