The Auckland Law School community

Outside lectures and tutorials, there is a lot going on around campus. See what our students and staff have been up to lately...

New parenting room open

The Law School has opened a new parenting room, available for use by students with children aged under two years. The space, located opposite Northey Lecture Theatre next to the Sick Bay, features a private space for breast-feeding or bottle-feeding, and for nappy changes.

The room is accessible with a key obtained from Room 310, Level 3, Building 801 and is designed to be a quiet space for students to be with their young children. The room features a cot, change table, nappy disposal unit, microwave, refrigerator and kitchenette - along with a soft light for sleeping. The room is equipped, in part, thanks to a generous donation from Russell McVeagh.

Hours are 8am - 4pm Monday to Friday.

If you'd like to use the room, or need more information, email

Parents Room 1
Parents Room 4
Parents Room 3
Parents Room 2
Parents Room 5




The Inaugural Sir Owen Woodhouse Memorial Lecture

The Inaugural Sir Owen Woodhouse Memorial Lecture was held on Wednesday 20 August at the offices of Kensington Swan, with guest speaker Sir Kenneth Keith. Around 70 people attended including Sir Owen's family.

The lecture commemorated the life of one of our most distinguished judges and citizens. Sir Owen’s compassion, generosity of spirit and social conscience were reflected in his work as President of the Court of Appeal, President of the Law Commission, and Chairman of the Royal Commission that recommended a no fault accident compensation scheme.  

The Sir Owen Woodhouse Memorial Lecture will be held annually by a New Zealander and an international visitor in turn. The lecture will be given in Auckland and in Wellington and lecturers will reflect Sir Owen’s interests in the law, social justice, and social reform.

The Woodhouse Lecture has been established by Sir Owen’s family and friends. The inaugural lecture was delivered by Sir Kenneth Keith. His topic was: “Out of this Nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety: Promoting safety through law, national and international, and by other means”

Professional Staff Retreat

The Auckland Law School's professional staff attended a two-day retreat in mid-September, with the theme of "You have a choice". Led by Suranjika Tittawella and Raymond Stein, day one focused on discussing how we define the Law School culture, and also involved a series of presentations by staff who have attended conferences this year.

Day Two the team broke into groups to provide feedback on themes pulled from the professional staff Staff Survey results. A session also looked at self-care, and ways staff could improve over-all wellness.

There was also time for team-building over ice-breaker sessions, an outdoor activity, and lunch.

Retreat 4
Retreat 3
Retreat 1

2017 Law Foundation Distinguished Visiting Fellow

Professor Stephen Smith from McGill University visited the Auckland Law School for a week in late August as the 2017 Law Foundation Distinguished Visiting Fellow. Stephen teaches primarily in the fields of private law (common and civil law) and legal theory. During his visit with us he met with staff and students at a series of events and lectures. His student sorkshop "Why Contract Law" was well attended, as was his staff lecture "The Concept of a Remedy".

Stephen presenting
Stephen and Warren
Students listening
Stephen, Andrew and Marcus
Stephen writing on board
Stephen, common room

Professor Joanna Manning's Inaugural Lecture

Compensation for research-related injury in the UK, Australia and New Zealand: A legal and ethical audit

Recorded on 21 June 2017 at the Auckland Law School, Professor Joanna Manning presented her Inaugural Lecture to a capacity crowd.


Leading bioethicists, national commissions, and leaders of the medical profession around the world have argued that society owes an ethical obligation to compensate for researchrelated injury, and that no-fault compensation is the best ethical response.

In this lecture Professor Joanna Manning assessed existing compensation arrangements in place for research-related injury in publicly-funded and commercially-funded clinical research in the UK, Australia and New Zealand (in particular) against this ethical expectation.

TPP Lecture: 30 May 2017

A Dialogue on the Future of TPP – and what now for NZ?

Recorded on 30 May 2017 at the Auckland Law School, this student seminar featured Professor Jane Kelsey and Dr Raj Bhala, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Law, and Rice Distinguished Professor, at the University of Kansas School of Law.

Brexit lecture: 6 April 2017

Leaving Europe: The Legal and Political Implications of Brexit

Recorded on 6 April at the Auckland Law School, this seminar provides an opportunity to reflect on the unprecedented legislative and constitutional challenges faced following Brexit, and what can be done about them.

Two leading UK experts led the discussion: Professor Paul Craig (Oxford University) and Professor Alan Page (Dundee University). The seminar was
chaired by Professor Janet McLean.

Law Student Awards

Law Students honoured

The Law Student Awards were held on Tuesday 2 May, honouring our top achievers and student leaders.

New student space

New study and relaxation space is now available for our Law students on Level four of Building 810, 1-11 Short Street. It's open from 7.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday. Come check it out.

The kitchen
New Student study space
Undergraduate and postgraduate study space
Student study space
Work station clusters in the study space
Part of the PILSA space

Professor Warren Swain's Inaugural Lecture

On Monday 26 September, Professor Warren Swain gave his Inaugural Lecture. Titled "The Role of the Law Professor: A View from the Gutter", Warren's lecture abstract said: "The leading Canadian law academic, Stephen Waddams, has summed up the predicament of the law professor: 'Law teachers are used to being attacked from several directions. Colleagues in other university faculties consider them mere technicians. Law students think, on the contrary, that their teachers are insufficiently practical and the legal profession regards them as a woolly minded set of individuals out of touch with reality.'

"These tensions are nothing new. This Inaugural Lecture will explore the role of the law professor from a historical perspective."

Here is a video of Warren's full lecture - and a few photos from the evening.


Pre-lecture refreshments in the Staff Common Room
Professor Andrew Stockley
Pre-lecture refreshments
Professor Warren Swain
Professors Andrew Stockly, Warren Swain and John Morrow
Professor Warren Swain
Stone Lecture Theatre
Professor John Morrow

Poetic Justice - Law and Poetry Evening

Helen McNeil_LawPoetry-57
Poet Helen McNeil.

A mix of poets, lawyers, legal academics, law students and their friends recently gathered in Old Government House to enjoy a night of poetry. 

The floor was opened up to all, from the youngest reader, law lecturer Scott Optican's 13-year-old daughter Samantha reading Keats, to a range of readings from the invited poets Bernard Brown, John Adams, Piers Davies, Philip Khouri, Helen McNeil, and Tom Weston. 

Lecturer Jane Norton read Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai's The Place Where We Are Right and René Harrison read his own poetry. Alison Cleland ended the evening with a rousing reading of Burns’ A Man’s a Man.

Jane Norton said it was a fantastic and uplifting evening. "It was Simone de Beauvoir who told how as a child books saved her from despair. I dare to say that poetry saves lawyers."

The Auckland Law School hope to make this a regular event so anyone who is interested in attending and/or reading can contact Jane Norton.

The poetry night also featured in a recent edition of Law News.

Lady Deborah Chambers shares insight into outstanding career

At the end of August, Lady Deborah Chambers QC spoke to Auckland Law School students about her career, life, successes and learnings, as part of the Mai Chen's Top Practitioner Series.

The series aims to give students the opportunity to hear experiences from practice, and ask questions of some of this country's leading lawyers. Answering questions ranging from her hourly rate, through to work/life balance, Lady Chambers gave students an inspiring, informative and sometimes moving account of her life as a lawyer, wife, mother, widow and QC. Her sense of humour, honesty and openness provided a unique glimpse into an incredible and inspiring woman.

Lady Deborah Chambers
Q&A Session
Mai Chen
Chen, Lady Deborah Chambers and Professor Craig Elliffe
Q&A session
Professor Craig Elliffe thanks Lady Chambers

2016 Law Foundation Distinguished Visiting Fellow

The Auckland Law School was priviliged to host the 2016 Law Foundation Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Professor Graham Virgo, from August 17-19. Professor Virgo, from Cambridge University, spent time with students and staff, and also presented a joint public lecture with AUT: Conscience in Equity: a New Utopia. His staff lecture was titled Judicial Discretion in Private Law and was well attended by staff and postgraduate students.

During his time at the Auckland Law School, Professor Virgo lunched with selected students, sharing personal and professional insights into a distinguished career. The questions were deep and varied, and he was happy to pass on his expertise and experience to those gathered. He led Professor Peter Devonshire's Equitable Remedies class and met with key faculty staff and industry leaders.

Graham Virgto
Graham Virgo
Graham Virgo
Graham Virgo
Graham Virgo
Graham Virgo
Graham Virgo
Graham Virgo

Professor Warren Brookbanks' farewell speech

Warren Brookbanks

As presented by Associate Professor Julia Tolmie

Warren arrived at our faculty more than 30 years –in 1983 – apparently without any expectation of remaining. I have seen photos of the time and I can say that what he lacked in expectations he certainly made up for in hair.

He was originally appointed on a 1 year contract, which was extended, and then he applied for and got a permanent lecturership. Even then the process was probationary and after about 3 years of being here he came up for confirmation of tenure. Ken can remember being approached by the Dean at the time – Jack Northey – apparently Northey did not bother with staffing committees and such like – and the Dean was trying to decide if he should confirm Warren. Ken remembers Northey coming to him and saying he wasn't sure about this Brookbanks chap – what did Ken think? Ken was very assertive. He said that Warren was an excellent lecturer with enormous potential and without a doubt should be confirmed.

Almost 2 decades later Ken was to have his generous support for Warren validated when they co-taught criminal law together just before Ken moved out of the subject. Ken can still quote from heart one of the pieces of anonymous student feedback he received (and it is to Ken’s credit that he has shared this with us):

“Warren is a giant. You are a pygmy.”

Warren has achieved everything one can achieve in his 30 years with us. He broke through a glass ceiling when he became a full chair. He is the first full professor we have had in criminal law – an area that Sian Elias has called a “Cinderella subject”.

As someone with no particular academic expectations Warren began to write and this proved to be a strength. He has produced 10 books during his time at the Faculty, with 2 more on the go, and contributed to 2 major looseleaf works – Adams on Criminal Law and Brookers Family Law for their Incapacity volume. In addition he has given numerous conference presentations, has been the go to person for the Auckland District Law Society in conjunction with the Criminal Bar Association for their continuing legal education programme, has served for 10 years on the District Court Judges Education Committee and has been beyond generous in providing commentary to the media and consultation with barristers on criminal matters in senior appellate level cases. There is a level of stress that is added to ones life as an academic when one is this generous and successful as it becomes virtually impossible to meet the demand.

Many of his books have been the first texts in their area. It is no exaggeration to say that these texts have not only shaped the thinking of a generation of lawyers they have influenced the development of the common law. I have lost count of the criminal cases I have read where the judge has cited from Simester and Brookbanks in an attempt to make sense of the law – there is no way of reaching the end of the pool of citations – I like to imagine it as the plastic soup in the middle of the ocean – because google scholar does not record judicial citations.

One of the things that I admire about Warren is that his writing is accessible and readable for everyone – students, members of the profession and the bench – without sacrificing academic rigour.

He also has an incredible breadth and depth to his writing and commentary – frankly I am gobsmacked at times by his ability to tackle anything within his general area and have something to contribute. And yet there is depth – in the areas of therapeudic jurisprudence and mental health law his writings have really been at the vanguard of the subject not only in NZ but internationally.

Many memorable contributions to public and legal debate around a range of issues. My favourite was a small opinion piece in the Herald in 2010 arguing a service station was a dangerous thing and therefore BP had a duty arising in criminal law to take reasonable care in protecting its customers on the forecourt from, for example, robberies.

Displaying the kind of imagination one can only develop after years of immersion in the dark void of the criminal law Warren asks what the situation would be if an aggressive customer was holding an innocent, unrelated child and threatening to pour petrol over the child and ignite it unless his demands are met?

He goes on to say:

Would BP still counsel "hands off" until the authorities arrive, even if the child's life is in immediate danger?

BP's complacent attitude in the case reported is nothing more than corporate cowardice masquerading as an employment contract issue...

What I especially loved about this piece was the debate it has provoked on the internet. One person, going under the nom de plume of Tim the Enchanter identified himself “as a former student of yours.” He went on to argue that the duty applied to things like chain saws not commercial enterprises and if you followed Warrens logic to its conclusion “The local op-shop could be a dangerous operation”. The fact that op-shops are not subject to regular robbery kind of weakens the analogy and therefore the force of his criticism but one is heartened to see this kind of educational engagement extending beyond the walls of the academy.

A recognition of Warrens scholarship whilst here was his award of LLD - The Degree of Doctor of Laws is based on past scholarship demonstrating “original contribution of special excellence” resulting in “authoritative standing and international eminence.”

Warens contribution to the legal profession is also through his teaching. Aside from what we all do Ken – with Warren as backup – were pioneers in developing and running a course for those police officers who wanted to be criminal prosecutors. They taught the course for 14 years before it was transferred to the Police College in Wellington. As well as being yet another example of making the study of law relevant to those engaged in its practical application there was the additional benefit in schooling a decade of police officers in concepts that were somewhat novel to them at the time – like human rights. There is a small plaque in the Boardroom from the police to the Law School expressing gratitude for the contribution that Ken and Warren made.

I have to end on a personal note because it is not Warren’s achievements we will miss. In fact there are those amongst us, less worthy and less committed to scholarly pursuits who might even be secretly grateful that he wont be around to set such unattainable standards. The person we will miss is Warren the friend and colleague.

Warren is humble, imminently likeable, thoroughly decent and generous to a fault. I will miss Warren hugely as one of the criminal law teaching team. Usually as course director when I send around the email asking everyone to stump up with input for the midterm test problem or essay problem or exam or model answer invariably Warren has already written it on behalf of us all.

LexiNexis did not want to sign Kris Gledhill and I on for another criminal law text without checking first that they were not offending Warren – he is one of the high performing authors in their stable. Warren could have been funny about a competitive work being authored but instead he has been nothing but hugely excited, positive and supportive.

Warren comes from an incredibly creative family. His wife Glenys Brookbanks is a painter of national significance – I still have to say that my favourite thing about the collection of criminal essays I co-edited with Warren is her painting on the front cover – and I am not denigrating the essays inside the book in saying that. His daughter Libbys icon paintings and his sons architectural sculptures are also justly celebrated. What you may not know that Warren himself is actually quite artistically gifted – content to let his brilliant family shine he has a house full of amazing pieces of art produced by them – his obvious contribution being the fact that he built the house extension himself. And yet on a small obscure shelf in his living room one day I spotted a rather wonderful selection of small scale vehicular sculptures and was amazed to be informed that he had crafted these himself.

Warren is always the picture of understated sartorial masculine elegance. He has never, for example, made the mistake of doing other but accept his loss of hair – but he has a wonderful selection of hats – besides his motoring leathers. Going to hand around a few photos at the moment. One is anything other but understated sartorial elegance – its overstated something else. Warren performing in the Law Review as a member of the band KISS.

Bit of an adventurer. Motor cycle riding. Warren, David Grinlinton and some other intrepid law related NZers took a motorcycle tour of the North of Scotland and Orkney Isles. Written up in Eden Crescent.

Many a Faculty tramp – a tradition that sadly languished just as I arrived.

Many years ago, faculty members, on an annual basis, took a post exam,early December, tramp, to some exotic part of new zealand,  like Ruapehu, Tongariro, Waikaremoana, Taranaki, Nelson lakes, the Heaphy Track, Whirinaki and others.   Warren was one of the leaders of that group, whose members included Paul Rishworth, Ron Patterson, John Hannan, David Williams, Grant Huscroft, David Grinlinton, Scottie Optican, Grant Hammond, Janet McLean, Peter Watts, and others including some family members of the above, like Sarah Rishworth.   

Bill Hodge recalls way back in 1991 or 1992 the annual faculty tramp was circumnavigating Mt Taranaki.  I am going to read from Bill now:

“We were on the second or third day, on the remote westerly, very wet part of the circuit.  Warren, I thought, was ahead somewhere, and Grant Hammond (dean) was ahead of me, and then a few others behind.  We came to very muddy bit, and I kept getting deeper and deeper.  When it was up to my knees and even deeper, I looked ahead to grant, and he seemed to be coasting along the surface, without even getting his boots muddy.  I asked him if it was deep up there and he said, “No, not at all”.  I couldn’t see Warren, so I called out, “Where’s Warren?” and Grant called back,  “Oh, he’s right here, I am standing on his shoulders.”  

On another occasion, and it may even have been that same tramp, we were higher on the mountain, and traversing some icy bits.  We came to the top of an ice chute, which had to be traversed without ice axe or crampons or rope belays.   Two or more of us had gotten across the top of the chute and warren was next.  In spite of being so light of foot and nimble, for one of Warren’s size, Warren’s footwear had little or no tread and no purchase on the ice.   He commenced sliding, gently and slowly at first, picking up a bit of speed. It was like "Cool Running” without a sled, but with a 40 pound pack.  We weren’t too worried, because eventually, the mountain levels out, somewhere around Inglewood.  So we didn’t think he was in too much danger.   In any event, he wasn’t carrying the meal we needed for that night, so it was okay.  Warren made a few choice remarks, which were pretty memorable. The finish was anti-climactic, because he didn’t go sailing off a bluff, but with divine assistance, or otherwise, he fetched up against some alpine shrubbery and was able to self arrest, and eventually climb back up and join the rest of us. “

As one might expect from everything I have said Warren is someone who enjoys tremendous mana and standing in the legal fraternity. Ken thought that Warren could have walked into a DC judges role over the last 10-20 years and doubled his salary if he wanted to. To his credit he didn't – he has dedicated this time to our institution and educational goals. And its to our benefit both as an institution and as a professional discipline that he didn't.

Gone on to a new challenge. Set up and run the Centre for Non-Adversarial Justice. Build on his interests in therapeudic jurisprudence – also frankly the way of the future as we realise we cannot afford the costs of our old models of criminal justice.

Warren – you are just going down the road. We love you. We will miss you tremendously. And we hope this is not truly farewell. We hope we will continue to see you on a regular basis.