Judge Lisa Tremewan encourages top law students

16 May 2014
Judge Lisa Tremewan in conversation with former mentor The Right Honourable Anand Satyanand who was a sitting judge at Otahuhu in the late 1980s when Judge Tremewan was in practice. She referred to the need to appreciate those who assist and guide professionally, but also the importance, in turn, of assisting those who come afterwards, saying: “Don’t pull the ladder up after you”.
Judge Lisa Tremewan in conversation with former mentor The Right Honourable Anand Satyanand who was a sitting judge at Otahuhu in the late 1980s when Judge Tremewan was in practice. She referred to the need to appreciate those who assist and guide professionally, but also the importance, in turn, of assisting those who come afterwards, saying: “Don’t pull the ladder up after you”.

More than 100 awards were presented to the Law Faculty’s top students at a ceremony on Tuesday 6th May.

Dean Andrew Stockley and Deputy Dean Susan Watson presented certificates to students who had won prizes and scholarships, who had major leadership roles in the law student societies, and who had won law student competitions and represented the Law School internationally.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the outstanding students we have here,” Dean Stockley said.

“The Auckland Law School accepts only the brightest students and we are very proud of their achievements, which is why it is such a pleasure to recognise the work they do and honour them at this ceremony.”

The Dean thanked the Faculty of Law’s many supporters and sponsors including law firms, alumni, and the practitioners, mediators and judges who had helped coach mooting and client interviewing teams to achieve national and international success.

Rhodes Scholar, 22 year-old Alice Wang, received the Auckland District Law Society’s prize for the top law undergraduate.

Alice, who is currently serving as Judge’s Clerk to Justice William Young in Wellington’s Supreme Court, says she wasn’t expecting to receive the top award because she was pulled in so many directions when she lost her mother last year.

“This is a wonderful surprise and a very nice way for me to end my time at the Auckland Law School,” she says. “The Faculty was most supportive of me during a very difficult year. I am grateful for the both the quality of the teachers and the fact that they really do care about their students.”

Alice takes up her Rhodes Scholarship at the University of Oxford in September this year.

Introducing the evening’s guest speaker Judge Lisa Tremewan, who graduated BA, LLB (Hons), M.Jur (Dist.) from the Auckland Law School just on 30 years ago, Dean Stockley described her as “a trailblazer who works at the coalface of the law”.

Judge Tremewan sits at Waitakere District Court where her duties include presiding over Waitakere’s Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court, one of two such courts established in New Zealand 18 months ago as part of a five-year pilot to test a new approach to treating addicts who would otherwise go to jail.

She drew on her experience to provide inspirational advice to the Law School’s top students.

“When I had finished at Law School, I considered whether or not to formally practice law,” she said. “I was advised to go into a biggish firm and take some time before exercising my judgment and this proved to be excellent advice.”

“Initially I felt like a fish out of water and I was one of only two women in the practice. But some people were really prepared to put themselves out to mentor me. Remember when it’s your turn to assist, do so,” she advised. “Don’t pull the ladder up behind you.”

Judge Tremewan said that on one occasion she was sent to the (former) Otahuhu Court and realised that’s where she wanted to be – in a busy community court on a daily basis. “I was a duck to water,” she quipped.

She enjoyed the challenges of working in South Auckland and later went on to help establish South Auckland Chambers. She was appointed to the bench in Waitakere nine years ago.

“It’s been interesting, challenging and, at times, hard but I feel privileged,” she said. “I followed my heart in terms of the work I have chosen to undertake and endeavour to serve my community and to make a difference through my work.”

Judge Tremewan also referred to the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court pilot.

“As a Judge, one sees repeated themes. We know that 80 to 90 per cent of offending relates to alcohol and drug use, and that some offenders are dependent on alcohol or other drugs. It’s not possible however to punish away addiction, but a different, more meaningful approach can create a better outcome in terms of actually addressing the underlying causes of some offending - whilst still holding offenders accountable. The Drug Courts, founded in the USA in 1989 are now very well established with over 2,800 such courts in the US alone.  The court is the most researched court in the world and we have the benefit of that in the work we are undertaking here which is based on that evidence based best practice.

“While some may say we are 'Johnny-come-lately' with this work, on the other hand we have an opportunity to effectively leapfrog over that research, take the proverbial 'eyes from it' and apply it here which is what we have been doing. I hope in time we can achieve the success demonstrated overseas and the indications are already favourable in that regard.”

In closing, Judge Tremewan urged the students to strive to be good at what they do, work hard and choose an area of work for which they have a passion, but remember to try to keep balance in their lives.

“Keep an open mind and look out for opportunities to extend yourselves but also to pass on what you learn to others, she said. “You are privileged and clever - feel proud of your success - as your families are also proud of you, and don’t forget to thank them for their support. Take the take time to serve your community.

“And remember it’s important to be modest,” she advised. “The kumara does not speak of its own sweetness.”