ABOUT US

On 14 February 2018, Newsroom broke a story regarding sexual assault

at one of New Zealand's premier law firms.

 

Following that story, there was an outpouring of junior lawyers

sharing their experiences of sexual harassment and exploitation at work. 

A year later, with no sign of any meaningful change in the profession

in response to the issues that surfaced,

ALWU was formed.

Read on to find out more about:

Our aims

What we do for members

Membership structure

Our team

Our aims

ALWU is here to represent workers at legal workplaces in Aotearoa.

 

We aim to:

  • promote inclusivity, kindness and a sense of pride in the legal profession;

  • provide a cohesive public voice for legal workers;

  • stop the unfair treatment of junior lawyers;

  • promote safe and healthy workplaces for legal workers in New Zealand; and

  • advocate for margnialised groups of legal workers, including junior lawyers, women, people in the LGBTQI+ community, tangata whenua, people of colour, and disabled people.

In order to  achieve those goals, ALWU will:

  • advocate for fair treatment and accountability in the profession;

  • collect and publish data to promote transparency about pay and working conditions in legal workplaces;

  • conduct campaigns to reduce the power imbalance and pay gap between employers and workers; and

  • connect legal workers with qualified support, advocacy and representation on workplace issues.

 
 
What we do for members

In addition to advocating for the collective interests of its members generally through the media and with relevant organisations, ALWU also helps members at the individual level. 

We have a dedicated advocacy team, plus a panel of experienced employment lawyers who can represent ALWU members on a pro bono basis.  They can provide members with a wide range of support, including:

  • providing information and answering questions about members' employment;

  • advising members on employment issues they're facing;

  • acting as a support person and attending meetings with members and their employers;

  • attending and offering support at mediation; and

  • if necessary, representing members at the Employment Relations Authority or the Employment Court.

This year, ALWU also intends to begin collective bargaining for its members.

 
Membership structure

ALWU has three types of membership:

  1. Ordinary membership

  2. Student membership

  3. Associate membership

Ordinary membership is open to anybody employed in a legal workplace who supports the purposes of ALWU. ALWU intends to represent the collective interests of people employed as a lawyer in any organisation, in a policy or advocacy role that interfaces with the law, or in a support role for lawyers or other legal workers.

Student membership is open to anybody aged 16 years or older who either:

  • is engaged in at least their second year of; or

  • has completed within the previous two years

full time study in a nationally-accredited education institution or programme where the person has an interest 

Associate membership is open to anybody not otherwise entitled to membership

 
Our Team
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Tess Upperton

Co-President

Kia ora tātou, ko Tess tōku ingoa (she/her).

In my role as co-president, I aim to ensure sustainable governance, run key campaigns, and foster connections with other unions. As a founding member of ALWU, I want to see us grow as a key player in the Aotearoa legal landscape and ensure we can support legal workers for many years to come.

Unionisation has shown me how legal workers themselves can be the key to their own power. It is not only vital but hugely empowering and rewarding to be part of this kaupapa.

 

I roto i te kotahitanga!
 

Tess Upperton
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Kushali Tuinder

Treasurer

Ko Kushali Tuinder tōku ingoa.

 

I am of Sri Lankan and Dutch descent, and was born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau. In 2018, I moved to Te Whanganui-a-Tara to start my LLB/BA at Te Herenga Waka. After completing my fourth year, I am super stoked to be starting a summer internship at the Ministry of Education and taking on the role of ALWU Treasurer!

 

Unions play a crucial role in ensuring that workplaces, particularly high stress environments, are not exploitative in nature. To achieve an equitable society, it is paramount that all workers feel empowered, respected, and valued with their mahi. 

Kushali Tuinder
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Julia Marshall-Mead

Executive Member

Kia ora tātou, I'm Julia Marshall-Mead (she/her, they/them).  I'm a law graduate based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.  

 

As advocacy officer, I'm the first port of call for members who need support, be it in the form of general information, or more specific help from ALWU's amazing pro bono panel.  

 

I'm a big believer in collectivism, and want to work towards shaping the legal profession into a sustainable one where its members not only survive, but truly thrive and are able to be their best selves both at and outside work.

Julia Marshall-Mead
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Katherine Nordmeyer

Executive Member

Tēnā koutou, ko Katherine tōku ingoa.  I began my legal career working in litigation in a large firm and I now work in a regulatory role.

 

There is a strong business case for fair working hours, transparent pay and a wellbeing focus. Staff who are valued, not overworked and have financial security can dedicate their energy to providing value for clients. Their careers are sustainable because they are less likely to suffer burnout or drive staff turnover rates.

 

As a profession, let's start by getting our own house in order, so that we can fulfil our statutory and professional obligations with our heads held high.

Katherine Nordmeyer
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Isabella Lenihan-Ikin

Co-President

Tēnā koutou katoa. Ko Isabella Lenihan-Ikin tōku ingoa.
I am a unionist, and currently work as an organiser and campaigner for NZEI Te Riu Roa. Before this, I was the National President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Association. I am finishing my law degree before starting my Masters at Oxford in 2022.


I’m passionate about building power among workers so that together we can drive collective change. By working collectively and redistributing power to workers, ALWU will continue to change the lives of its members and transform the profession for the better.

Isabella Lenihan-Ikin
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Cornelius Botha

Executive Member

I am a senior commercial lawyer based in Auckland.

ALWU's members are the lawyers and legal workers that make up the profession. We are guided by the principles that together we are stronger and collectively we have a voice. We value transparency and accountability to address disparity and inequity within the profession.

 

And we understand as members of a collective movement, and as present and future leaders, we all get to choose the culture that we want to be part of and the environment we want to work in.

Cornelius Botha
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Josie McNaught

Executive Member

I was formerly an investigative arts journalist across print, TV, and radio for 20 years before becoming a lawyer in 2016.

 

I am now based in Auckland and offer legal services to the arts and media sectors, focusing on advocacy, rights, and justice for the creative community. I teach Media Law and Ethics, and Journalism at Massey University and am a member of Auckland Women Lawyer’s Association.

 

As a new (older) lawyer, I am keen to increase ALWU membership for other older graduates and to advocate for reforms in the profession for all.

Josie McNaught
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Charlie Robinson

Student Representative

I am a 4th year student down at Otago.

 

I first learned of the ALWU during my clerkship at a large law firm over the summer and was both surprised and disappointed that I hadn’t heard of it earlier. My major goal is to make sure that ALWU is a household name for every law student in Aotearoa. I also want to support our LGBTQIA+ whānau through their work related struggles. 

 

I understand the extreme stress and work conditions of junior lawyers in many of Aotearoa’s firms and wish to help ease the stress for finalist law students of finding employment through providing information and assurance.

Charlie Robinson
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Jaini Patel

Secretary

Kia ora e te whanau! Ko Jaini tōku ingoa (she/her).

 

I'm a solicitor at a large government department and started my career at a large law firm in Te Whanganui-ā-Tara | Wellington. 


I was fortunate to be on ALWU’s Executive over the 2020/21 term. ALWU has achieved so much so far and I’m stoked to be able to help continue that mahi in my role as secretary. I’m committed to holding key players in the profession accountable and making sure we have a legal profession and community that we can all be proud of.

Kia kaha!

Jaini Patel
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Anna Ou

Executive Member

I am first-gen Chinese who grew up in Timaru.

When I moved to Wellington to study I quickly became passionate about inclusivity in law school and the legal profession. Once I learned the statistics I was disappointed yet unsurprised that marginalised groups were so underrepresented in our profession. I realised that a lot of work was needed to build a more inclusive and supportive legal profession. 

Building upon my work in the Asian Law Students' Association, I joined ALWU because I believe everyone should be respected and treated fairly in a workplace regardless of their background.

Anna Ou
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Kalyani Dixit

Executive Member

Kia ora, I'm Kalyani and I'm a solicitor in Wellington.

 

I decided to join ALWU, and particularly the Exec, because I want to drive change in the profession. 

 

I absolutely love being a lawyer and have had the privilege of having great mentors who have guided me through the first years of my career. However, this experience isn't shared by everyone and the profession can really take a toll on mental and physical health. 

 

Feel free to drop me a message if you'd like to chat about the joys and challenges of being a legal professional in Aotearoa!

Kalyani Dixit
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Tanuvi Garimella

Executive Member

Salam, namaste and kia ora e te whānau. Ko Tanuvi Garimella tōku ingoa (she/her). 

 

Young lawyers are amongst the most vulnerable in the profession. In an oversaturated market, we are imbued with a “take what you can get” mentality at the mercy of hierarchical power dynamics.

 

This damaging rhetoric results in young lawyers, particularly minorities, feeling unsupported in vindicating their rights to pay, benefits, working conditions.

 

A safe, transparent, and equitable workplace is a non-negotiable right.

Tanuvi Garimella
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"I'm incredibly heartened by the great work ALWU is taking on, and the energy and vision of its members.  Positive culture change doesn't just happen by accident.  It takes effort and work and positive support networks.  I totally support this kaupapa."

Zoë Prebble  Lecturer, Te Herenga Waka | Victoria University of Wellington