Karlene is an Associate and Crown Prosecutor at Meredith Connell, undertaking Crown prosecutions and acting for the Commissioner of Police in civil proceedings seeking the restraint and civil forfeiture of the proceeds of crime.
Karlene joined the AWLA committee in 2019 and has since held the positions of Treasurer and Vice President before her appointment as President in 2024. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the New Zealand Women's Law Journal — Te Aho Kawe Kaupapa Ture a ngā Wāhine.
Karlene is passionate about the advancement of women in law and society. During her time on the committee, Karlene has enjoyed the opportunity to work on issues of social justice including drafting AWLA's submissions on the Abortion Legislation Bill and the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Bill, and subsequently appeared before the Parliamentary Select Committees to deliver oral submissions. Karlene believes our profession is made stronger with a diverse background. For that reason she has worked to develop the AWLA New Law Student Scholarship directed at women for whom studying law would otherwise be a financial challenge.
Karlene wants to ensure women can excel within the profession of law and in their lives outside of it.
This is my second stint as VP and ten years since I first joined the committee as the law student rep for AUT, back in 2014.
I am in my late 50s and a fairly new lawyer – I was admitted in 2016 after a 20+ year career in journalism. My areas of practice are media/arts/IP and my current role is in-house lawyer for Whakaata Māori – Māori Television.
My background in journalism was a good start for a law degree. Journalists are advocates just as lawyers are. Also like journalism, it’s a people job no two days are the same. I have been at Whakaata Māori for about 18 months and prior to that I worked for myself, and I did a stint working for a media law specialist in a firm – a role I was offered as soon as I graduated.
I am mother to Zoe (26) and Nate (23) and partner to William – a retired tax barrister and former PWC partner who encouraged me to study law in the first place. I also teach media law at AUT Law School and have taught media law and ethics to journalists.
My interests outside law revolve around the arts, music, books, our beautiful garden, friends and whānau, and of course my children – although they are globe trotters these days now that Covid no longer keeps them in Aotearoa. I ski, I am a yoga/pilates/tai chi nut, I play interclub tennis which I love, and one of my favourite activities is cooking up a storm and enjoying the pleasure of sharing my homemade kai. I also like coming up with ideas for events – and then organising them. I believe a range of ages and stages is important on the committee and I see myself as representing new members of the profession as well as mature wahine.
Sophie specialises in Intellectual Property law at Buddle Findlay advising clients on all aspects of IP from strategy, protection, commercialisation, enforcement and everything in between.
Sophie is a longstanding member of AWLA and has a keen interest in mentoring, equality and diversity which she looks forward to continuing to explore with AWLA for the betterment of women in the legal profession.
Outside of work, Sophie enjoys spending time with her three children and puppy, being outdoors and travelling.
Working for the Ministry of Justice, Frances leads a team of lawyers at Manukau’s Public Defence Service to provide advice and representation to defendants granted Legal Aid in criminal cases.
Having joined AWLA in 2022, this year marks Frances’s second year as Treasurer.
Frances was born and raised in Auckland, graduated from the University of Auckland, and feels a life-long connection to the city. As a widow, a single parent and a mother of two teenage sons, Frances is inspired by the achievements of the women of the AWLA and profoundly motivated by the urgency of the unique challenges faced by women working in law.
Anna is a litigation senior solicitor at Simpson Western, working with individuals, small enterprises and businesses of scale to resolve a range of disputes, including recovering commercial and personal debts, advising companies, directors and shareholders regarding company and shareholder disputes, resolving property and commercial lease disputes for purchasers, vendors, commercial landlords and tenants, and advising construction companies, contractors and subcontractors regarding construction disputes. Anna aims to be a trusted advocate for every client, helping them to resolve their dispute through mediation and negotiation or, if required, through litigation.
Anna has a keen interest in the advancement of women within the legal profession and in legal research and writing that advocates for reforming the law to better address women's interests and issues. Anna has previously been an associate editor of the New Zealand Women's Law Journal — Te Aho Kawe Kaupapa Ture a ngā Wāhine. Anna is currently a member of Young AMINZ (Arbitrators' and Mediators Institute of New Zealand) and volunteers as a mentor with the University of Auckland Law School Women's Mentoring Programme.
Anna joined AWLA as a member in 2021 and is looking forward to getting involved in promoting opportunities for women in the law and advocating for law reform on women's issues. Outside of work, Anna enjoys reading a good book, cooking for friends and family and going for walks at her local beach.
Bella is a corporate / commercial solicitor at Morrison Partners, a specialist boutique firm. Bella works with well-known New Zealand brands, privately owned businesses, family offices and funds. Bella graduated with an LLB from the University of Otago in 2022, is fluent in German and hails from Wanaka.
Outside of work, Bella can be found going for walks with her girlfriends or getting into a new book bought from Unity bookshop.
Bella is looking forward to her first year on the committee and is excited to further advance the support for Women in the law in Tāmaki Makarau.
Carrie is a solicitor working in the litigation and employment team at Haigh Lyon Lawyers Limited. Carrie completed her LLB and BA at the University of Otago where she developed a strong interest in the intersection between feminist theory, law, and politics. These interests led Carrie to join the AWLA committee as she believes AWLA creates an important space to empower and support wāhine in the legal profession. Outside of work, Carrie enjoys getting outdoors, reading, knitting, and sewing.
Hi I'm Erina and I am very excited to be part of AWLA Committee for 2024. I studied at the University of Canterbury and was admitted to the bar in 2014. I started my legal career in leaky building litigation at Grimshaw & Co. I then moved to Kennedys law briefly before taking up my first in house role at Rothbury Insurance Brokers. I am now Senior legal counsel at AIA NZ. While originally from Rotorua I have now lived in Auckland for well over 10 years. I have two young children, so I have recently navigated the stressors of maternity leave and returning to work. After returning to work from maternity leave during the pandemic, I decided I wanted to put more of a focus on my career and build more connections. I appreciate the importance of a supportive community and having the opportunity to develop your professional network. AWLA is a fantastic way to engage with other women lawyers while attending fun and interesting events. I am very happy to be part of the committee for 2024 to help the AWLA continue to thrive
Jessica SUI Harborne
I have been living in New Zealand since 1999. I have got Double Degree in International Business and economics, from China | a Bachelor of Business in Accounting from AUT| a Diploma in Business from AUT| a Diploma in Legal Executive from Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, | and a Graduate Certificate in Arts Translation and Interpretation from AUT. I am currently a Bachelor of Laws student in AUT since 2021.
I have experience in working with families and people in vulnerable circumstances and can quickly build rapport with a variety of people from diverse backgrounds and lifestyles, including adults and children. I am a competent Bilingual translator and interpreter in English and Mandarin. My passion is being a Bilingual litigator and helping others who have got language barrier to succeed in disputes. My approach focuses on developing a realistic understanding of the client's needs in both English and Mandarin. I have been through the burdens of life and can stand in clients' shoes and work with client's needs.
I am proudly awarded the Certificate of Interpreting in Aotearoa New Zealand- The Public Sector Context. I am a registered Interpreter for the Ministry of Justice, where I can help others with my bundle of skills. I am a committee member at AWLA and NZSTI in 2024. I am a member of NZILE, NAATI, AUSIT and New Zealand Asian Lawyers Association.
Meggan is an Associate in the civil litigation team at Bell Gully. She has experience in a range of contentious litigation, and a keen interest in property, company and insolvency disputes. Her litigation experience has provided her with the skills to advocate for a variety of topics and issues. Meggan is originally from South Africa where she practiced law, before immigrating to New Zealand in 2017. As an immigrant and a lawyer having practised outside of New Zealand, Meggan brings a different perspective to conversations around legal issues, and issues affecting women in the industry. Meggan is looking forward to being a part of AWLA and putting her time and skills to good use to support and advance the interests of women in law.
Outside of law, Meggan enjoys cooking, going to the beach, pilates, listening to crime podcasts, and reading novels.
Olivia obtained her Law and Criminal Justice Degrees from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. She now practises criminal defence law with the Public Defence Service in the Waitakere area. Olivia is new to he AWLA joining in 2023, but she cant wait to meet all the members and grow connections.
While living in Christchurch Olivia enjoyed road tripping and exploring the South Island. Now she is back in her home town of Auckland she enjoys catching up with friends, going to the beach and travelling whenever she gets the chance.
My name is Samantha (Sam) Johnston, and I am a first-year solicitor in the Real Estate team at Simpson Grierson.
Joining the Auckland Women Lawyers Association committee was a natural step for me after my experience with both the Waikato University Women in Law Association and Waikato University Women in Business Association. In these roles, I organised competitions, mentoring programmes, funding, as well as ran events which provided attendees with the opportunity to voice their opinions on controversial topics in a safe space.
I've witnessed firsthand the transformative power of a committed community. Now, I'm eager to bring my passion for fostering connections, promoting diversity, and advancing the interests of women in law to Auckland. The AWLA committee is the perfect avenue to continue championing these values, and I'm excited to contribute my skills and dedication to the collective pursuit of empowering women in the legal profession.
Shania Spooner is a young lawyer at Haigh Lyon who is excited to bring a fresh perspective, passion for advocacy and a commitment to fostering positive change within the legal community to the AWLA committee in 2024. Shania completed a LLB and BA conjoint majoring in history and sociology at the University of Auckland. During her studies Shania developed a passion for advocating for women and understanding the intersectional issues that have affected women throughout history. While volunteering at Youthlaw Shania fostered her passion for advocacy and continued to look for opportunities on how to support women through the legal field. Shania believes the AWLA is an important organisation that work to uplift women and provide a safe space for women to address the ongoing struggles they face through the legal environment. Shania is enthusiastic to assist AWLA in their goal to advocate for and support women. In her free time Shania loves being near, or in, the ocean, whether it's having a beach day and picnic or out on the boat swimming and scuba diving.
Summer is a solicitor in the Family Law team at Haigh Lyon Lawyers where she dedicates herself to advocating for her clients' best interests and providing a degree of certainty for them during some of the toughest times in their lives. In her area of practice, Summer has identified parts of the law that require significant reform and through her position on the AWLA committee she hopes to help make meaningful change to laws that directly affect women in society.
As a young lawyer who is new to the profession, Summer has enjoyed making connections through attendance at AWLA events. She joined the AWLA Committee with a motivation to assist other women lawyers with expanding their connections and support circles within the profession. Summer strongly believes in the power of knowledge and is looking forward to helping spread AWLA's resources, like promotion and parental leave information, to boost women's confidence in professional situations with employers and colleagues alike
Vanshika is a criminal defence lawyer with the Public Defence Service in Manukau. Alongside this, she brings with her previous experience in family law and Māori legal issues.
Raised in South Auckland, she is deeply connected to her community and passionate about making a difference. Empowering young women embarking on their legal career is a cause close to her heart and she is committed to fostering an environment where they can flourish and thrive.
When not in the office, Vanshika is kept busy with her family, landscaping at her new home and finding new dog friendly beaches for her two-year-old Labrador.
Vanshika is excited about collaborating with the accomplished wāhine on the committee and furthering AWLA's principles.
Student Representative - Auckland University of Technology
I am in my penultimate year of Law School at AUT, and have previously graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting and International Business. I am a huge advocate for equal rights and opportunities for all genders, and believe in the power of educating our way to our goals. I have held the role of a treasurer with the AUT Law Students' Society and with the Auckland University Indian Society, which has provided me with invaluable experiences and insights. I look forward to being a part of this committee and working towards a stronger connection between AWLA and AUT Law School. Outside of this, I enjoy creative writing and improving my dance skills.
Student Representative - University of Auckland
Phoebe is in her third year of a Bachelor of Laws (Hons.) degree. She is looking forward to representing the female student body of the University of Auckland on the AWLA committee. In particular, Phoebe is interested in facilitating a greater engagement of female students in the legal field, ensuring they are aware of the opportunities around them. She hopes to encourage them to participate in opportunities they may not otherwise have explored. Phoebe is currently on the University of Auckland Mooting Society's executive committee and hopes to provide more chances for female students to develop their advocacy skills. She has also served on the University of Auckland Debating Society's executive and regularly competes in debating tournaments on a national and international scale. Outside of university, Phoebe enjoys coaching young debaters and reading.