Tiana Epati, who has assumed her role as president of the New Zealand Law Society, has shared what the legal profession should expect during her leadership.
She shared several areas of focus in an article posted by the Law Society on its website, first identifying the important work that needs to be done in implementing the recommendations of the working group headed by Dame Silvia Cartwright.
“We’ll be working on how to implement the recommendations of the Working Group led by Dame Silvia Cartwright on our regulatory system, to ensure we have an effective complaints regime to deal with, and deter, unacceptable behaviour,” she said.
The new president also said that a focus will be the action plan of the organisation’s culture-change taskforce, which is expected to be released in November.
“This will be a blueprint for long term culture change within the legal community. The taskforce is a key player in developing a strategic framework and action plan that will support the creation and maintenance of healthy, safe, respectful, and inclusive legal workplaces,” she said.
Access to justice is also an important issue for the leader.
“I want to see the Law Society driving initiatives which support changes to our justice system to ensure people who are affected by legal problems can access legal assistance,” she said. “Most, if not all, of us became lawyers to be of service to the community, to do something good and to make a positive impact. It’s a privilege to be a lawyer and with that comes obligations and responsibilities. We take an oath to be admitted into practice and we need to remember that.”
Epati also paid tribute to Kathryn Beck, the immediate past president of the Law Society.
“Kathryn did an incredible job, leading the Law Society through what has been a challenging time – particularly last year which was largely consumed by disturbing allegations of inappropriate behaviour by some members of the legal community. She drove and fronted the Law Society’s work in addressing these issues – sexual harassment and bullying. She has been a truly inspirational leader,” she said.