Next generation superstar: NZ’s Young Private Practice Lawyer of the Year

by Sophie Schroder12 Nov 2014
Ben Thompson, a senior associate at Hazel Armstrong Law, was named 2014’s LexisNexis Young Private Practice Lawyer of the Year at the 10th Annual New Zealand Law Awards, held last week.

He told NZ Lawyer that the award is hugely significant for him and his firm, which is a specialist in ACC Law and is based in Wellington.

“Whilst the ACC scheme is easy to take for granted, it touches every New Zealander and is unique in the world.  ACC litigators are required to deal with complex medico-legal issues, in matters which make a tangible difference in the lives of individuals,” he says.

On a personal level, the award is a nice vote of confidence for Thompson, who is preparing to open a second Hazel Armstrong Law office in Tauranga in April next year.

He thinks he’s been so successful thus far because of the small size of his firm, which has exposed him to all aspects of litigation very quickly. It also helps that he works closely with his dedicated and impassioned mentor, Hazel Armstrong.

“More than anyone I know, Hazel leads by example,” Thompson says. “She doesn’t simply talk about her values; she manifests them in her work every day.  Hazel has shown me how meaningful a career in the law can be.”

The young lawyer already has a number of career highlights, including completing a soon-to-be-published book on key sections of the Accident Compensation Act, practising personal injury law in the UK, which gave him insight into the importance of our ACC scheme; and stepping up into a senior role at Hazel Armstrong Law.

The recognition of young lawyers, both private practice and in house, is a vital aspect of the New Zealand Law Awards, says Thompson.

He sees a bright future for his generation of legal minds.

“I particularly like the new drive towards continuing professional development.  Courses, seminars, webinars are valuable for all practitioners, but especially for junior practitioners in small firms, whose senior staff might have limited opportunities to provide guidance.”