20 August 2014

Inaugural Justice French address aimed to inspire

Southland branch of the NZ Law Society

Inspiring the next generation of Southlanders to strive for success from their home province is a key focus for the Justice French Commemorative Address.

Initiated by the Southland branch of the New Zealand Law Society in honour of the achievements of Justice Christine French, the inaugural address will be staged at the Ascot Park Hotel on September 18.

Invercargill lawyer Janet Copeland believes Justice French is testament geographical location is no barrier to professional success.

“It is an aspirational pathway and shows you can be from Southland and reach the top of your chosen profession,” she said.

“We lose so many of our young, talented people to bigger cities and they need to realise you can achieve from right here.

“We want to enlighten the community as to the talent that we have right here in Southland and ultimately strengthen the legal profession by inspiring the next generation.”’

The progression of the Southern Institute of Technology in recent years had propelled education into the spotlight.

“As a city, Invercargill now has a bigger focus on academic achievement through the growth of SIT and that will ultimately have a positive impact on our economic prosperity,” Copeland said.

Educated in Invercargill, Justice French graduated with honours from the University of Otago in 1981 and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford in the UK. On her return to New Zealand in 1983, she practised in the legal firm of French Burt Partners in Invercargill. Justice French was appointed as a High Court Judge on 1 March 2008 and appointed to the Court of Appeal on 6 August 2012.

“It’s an incredible achievement for a Southlander and for a woman. It should be celebrated,” Copeland said.

“Justice French epitomises the core Southland values - honesty and hard work while remaining humble. We are proud she will be delivering the first address personally, sharing her thoughts on the history of Southland law and the legacy it has created.

“Not only is she a captivating and engaging speaker, the quality of her legal work is superior and she is so well respected - reflected in the number of her judiciary colleagues from throughout New Zealand who are eager to attend.

“We have been heartened by the support we’ve received from the community, including SBS Bank, the Southern Institute of Technology, Otago University and the Invercargill Licensing Trust. Their backing has reinforced the potential we believe this event has to impact on the community.”

To be held biannually, an objective of the address is to encourage education and debate in respect of topical legal issues for the wider enlightenment of the Southland community. The address is free of charge and open to all members of the public who wish to attend. Subsequent speakers will be of high academic achievement, leaders in their field and generally highly informed experts.

“Hopefully the topics covered will provoke debate and evoke leadership,” Copeland said.

Anyone wishing to attend the inaugural address can contact for details.

For further information, contact: Kate Buchanan – 021 292 1660