‘Outstanding’ Wellington lawyer dies

by Hannah Norton15 Jun 2015
Former New Zealand Law Society president John Marshall QC has died.

The well-known litigator passed away yesterday morning in his Wellington home, aged 68 – eleven months after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

“We knew this was coming, but even as much as you expect it, it’s still a shock when it happens,” New Zealand Law Society president Chris Moore told NZLawyer.

“He was an outstanding lawyer, which is probably a given, seeing as he was made a Queen’s Counsel in 2007.

“He also had a real concern for others, and in fact one of the drivers for him becoming a lawyer was that it was a way that he might be able to help others.

“He very much lived that.”

Marshall was an arbitration and mediation specialist who was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the recent Queen's Birthday honours list for his services to the law.

Moore said when Marshall was a young lawyer, he established the first two legal advice centres in Wellington.

“He gave a lot to the community; he was a firm advocate for pro bono work by lawyers. In fact he said that was the most satisfying work that a lawyer could do.”

One of Marshall’s legacies is the establishment of the Law Society practicing well initiative after being concerned at the high level of stress and depression in the legal profession, Moore said.

“He was a very busy and able practitioner, but somehow he found enough time to go to extraordinary lengths to ensure he helped others.”

There’s no doubt the profession had lost a fantastic lawyer and there would be deep sadness across the board for the loss, Moore said.

“He really did have a wonderfully quiet and modest determination, but he always managed to temper that by reason and concern for others.”

Marshall is survived by his wife Mary and their three children, Johnny, Annabelle and Clemmie, and a grand-daughter called Rose.

“I’ve known his wife Mary for many years, so my condolences go to Mary and their children.”

Marshall’s death came only a day after hundreds gathered at Auckland's Holy Trinity Cathedral to mourn the death of fellow Queen’s Counsel Sir Peter Williams.

Several days prior to Williams’ funeral was also the funeral of Wellington public law specialist and right-to-die champion Lecretia Seales.

“It is a pretty sad seven days when we’ve had three outstanding lawyers, practicing in very different fields, and having made very different contributions, but all made, in their own way, fantastic contributions, and all three leaving their own personal legacy,” Moore said.