The Top Young Lawyers in New Zealand | Rising Stars

Kiwi law’s brightest lights

The future of the profession is in capable hands thanks to the 56 young lawyers recognised by NZ Lawyer as Rising Stars of 2024.

Senior legal leaders praised the accomplished lawyers, aged 35 and under, for the remarkable law careers they have built and their clear potential to make a significant, long-lasting impact.

Across various practice areas in roles that span from associate to partner, this year’s Rising Stars have earned the prestigious award for:

  • outstanding client service

  • leadership within their firms

  • deep knowledge and legal expertise

  • contributing to the legal community

  • strong work and professional ethics

This year’s Rising Stars also display the corporate acumen highlighted as vital by Chris Baldock, partner in employment law at PwC Legal NZ.

“It’s important that they understand law as a business, particularly in understanding corporate clients’ issues and finding solutions not focused on the academic side,” he says. “Early career lawyers who can grasp that will go far. Young lawyers also stand out from their peers with either a combination of exemplary skills or a single trait, but they are proactive in making it known they are enthusiastic.” 


Patrick Anderson – Cooney Lees Morgan

Age: 34
Vigorous advocate with a trailblazing record of success

Acting on his passion for advocacy and problem-solving, Anderson has achieved a significantly high success rate as a litigator. He acted on several matters last year that either saw judgement awarded in favour of his client or resolved without needing a hearing, a testament to his exceptional legal expertise.

“Our clients are our main priority, as well as our duties to the court. It would be great to continue to get great results for our clients and earn my peers’ respect as someone who deals with others fairly,” he says. “I’ve learned from great mentors how to build a case from the ground up; when I began arguing matters myself, I enjoyed the method and was reasonably good at it.”

Senior legal leaders attest to the attributes that have propelled Anderson to the forefront:

  • demonstrates unwavering commitment and hard work to achieve optimal client outcomes

  • exhibits a high degree of integrity in all professional endeavors

  • skillfully balances work and home life, providing adept support to his wife, Steph, in raising their two young children

While dividing his practice between employment law, regulatory defence work, and civil, commercial, and construction litigation, he has established himself as one of the top financial performers at his firm, contributing significantly to its growth.

Through authoring academic articles, several of which have been published by the New Zealand Law Journal, Anderson has contributed to the profession and simultaneously raised the firm’s profile as a first port of call.

The ability to simplify and distil complicated and complex issues enables Anderson to shine as a trusted adviser. His warm nature, sense of humour and gift for communicating allow him to make genuine connections with clients and colleagues.

He succinctly states the best advice that has served him well as a litigator, “Don’t use a $100 word when there’s a $5 word that’s just as good.” 


Patrick Anderson, Cooney Lees Morgan
“You’ve got to take yourself to uncomfortable places sometimes when pursuing your client’s interests fearlessly, but what happens on the field stays on the field; you can’t get personally invested”
Patrick AndersonCooney Lees Morgan


Holly Cassin – Cavell Leitch

Age: 35
Driven to help other young lawyers thrive

Drawing on the specialist experience she gained at a national accounting firm, which gave her a unique perspective on insolvency issues, Cassin has established herself as a go-to person and litigator.

Working on the firm’s dispute resolution team, she has handled some of the firm’s largest and most demanding files, regularly appearing in court and often setting the strategy and direction.

Her leadership and passion for supporting up-and-coming young lawyers came to light when she reignited the firm’s peer group initiative, providing a safe space to discuss challenges, learn and develop professionally.

“I’d like to use my experience to develop a legal insolvency practice and move more into focusing on that area of law,” Cassin says. “It’s also important to me to mentor young staff at the firm, partly in my role as a supervisor, but to show them there are different paths to success.” 


Support for Cassin’s exceptional dedication to her craft and contributions to the legal community includes the following:

  • confident handling of challenging situations

  • rapid development of commercial dispute resolution expertise, contributing to the firm’s growth

  • active participation in several insolvency-related committees
    tripling the product’s sales trajectory this year

With a reputation for going above and beyond for her clients during intense legal proceedings, Cassin prioritises an approach that puts relationship-building, clear communication and sound strategy at the forefront of her practice.

The best advice she received as a junior lawyer also helped her cope with the stresses and strains of handling disputes.

“There will be stress in this role, and you’ve got to manage it; if you don’t remember it a year from now, don’t spend your time worrying about it,” she says. “That’s been quite good to help me reset, move forward and be adaptable in this line of work.” 


Holly Cassin, Cavell Leitch
“There’s always a risk in going to court, but you can make it as stress-free and straightforward as you can for the client and try to make a difficult situation as smooth as possible”
Holly CassinCavell Leitch


Jeroen Vink – Cavell Leitch

Age: 35
Young firm leader forging his own path

For fellow Rising Star Vink, the youngest principal at the firm leading the construction practice, his promotion in 2023 is a testament to his exceptional leadership, technical ability as a lawyer and dedication to client results.

He has been involved with the firm’s largest projects, such as an ASX and NZX IPO, central city development projects and a regulated public offer for a property syndicate.

Since becoming a parent, the importance of striking a work-life balance has become crystal clear. Vink aspires to be a role model in that respect and hopes other young lawyers believe that outstanding success and positive contributions are possible within the scope of a typical work week.

He says, “I made a reasonably conscious decision a few years ago to cut down the hours that I work. There’s been more emphasis on mental health and finding balance in the last few years, and that should be front and centre.”

In recommending Vink for the young lawyers’ accolade, a colleague notes his standout qualities:

  • esteemed expert in property and construction law

  • seeks opportunities to upskill himself, sharing that knowledge with his team

  • passionate about developing the next generation of lawyers and leaders

The nature of his role lends itself to longer-term clients. This relationship enables him to be highly effective by understanding their business, operations and needs.

“Building those relationships is key to my success,” he says. “I find the areas where I can add value and strive to preempt things for them.”

Reflecting on a given case or situation, particularly in a fast-paced practice area, is a key lesson Vink learned that has underpinned his career progression.

He says, “I try to gain some perspective by making the actual time to reflect or chat with a colleague, because even though you don’t think you have the time, you do. I can recall several instances where that led to good solutions.” 


Jeroen Vink, Cavell Leitch
“The way I ensure great results is by getting to know my clients well, ensuring the advice I’m giving is tailored to their needs”
Jeroen VinkCavell Leitch


Isabelle Kwek – Wotton + Kearney

Age: 26
Rising Star sets sights on leading Kiwi dispute resolution sector

An educational background and experience in health systems and population health have helped the associate on the firm’s liability team develop specialist expertise in medicolegal law and life sciences.

As one of 2024’s youngest Rising Stars, Kwek’s achievements in mediation and alternative dispute resolution earned her the 2023 Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand (AMINZ) Consensual Scholarship award.

Her previous work with a life insurer has also assisted in skilfully steering insurers and insureds through contentious insurance and policy coverage issues.

“The moment where I felt I had found my true calling was the first case I did, which incorporated the perfect combination of health and insurance-related circumstances and the mediation process, and I had to draw on my unique experience in all of these areas,” she says.

A supervising partner highlights Kwek’s contributions after just three years of post-qualification experience:

  • exceptional legal analysis and written and oral advocacy skills

  • gained the trust and confidence of the firm’s key clients

  • enthusiastic and positive individual immersed in the social and cultural sides of the firm and profession

Keeping in mind the unique challenges faced by the insurance industry enables Kwek to exceed her clients’ expectations through a thorough understanding of the types of disputes that arise in the insurance context.

“My ultimate goal is to be a leading dispute resolution practitioner in New Zealand in the insurance litigation space,” she says. “I was clear on that from the start, straight out of university, and I hope that’s going to be a point of difference for me.”

She acknowledges that encouraging diversity within the insurance and mediation community and the legal profession is important to her and expresses gratitude for the people who have paved the way for her to succeed. She aims to continue lighting the path forward for others. 


Isabelle Kwek, Wotton + Kearney
“I’ve been encouraged throughout my journey to identify what makes me unique and bring all of that to my work”
Isabelle KwekWotton + Kearney


Samantha Beattie – Wotton + Kearney

Age: 33
Fostering collaboration and confidence in the legal community

From her early court appearances as a junior lawyer at a boutique litigation firm, Beattie knew she was living her dream.

Now, as a senior associate on her current firm’s health professional indemnity team, she has developed a thriving practice as a litigator and a go-to expert where matters are contentious, complex and set to go to a hearing.

She navigates the complex world of the medicolegal sphere by understanding what clients require, listening to the other side and seeking practical solutions, recognising that there’s space to achieve a satisfying outcome for everyone.

“It’s not about being a hired gun; it’s about working collaboratively, being a good person and instilling confidence in my junior colleagues so they can have the same opportunities I’ve had,” she says.

A firm partner who supervised Beattie last year praised her extraordinary skills and abilities:

  • popular among her peers and a sought-after soundboard

  • displays initiative in business development, mentoring younger lawyers and community service

  • garners positive client feedback about her high standard of work


Over the past year, Beattie has appeared as counsel for medical practitioners in the Coroners Court. In this often confrontational setting, her empathy and pragmatism have assisted the coroner in recognising the broader systemic issues faced by medical practitioners. She has achieved positive outcomes for clients in those hearings but acknowledges learning from a former employer and passionate advocate that it’s normal to be tense in the courtroom.

Beattie says, “I think it’s good to be nervous because I want to do a good job for my client. Getting up on your feet is terrifying, but it’s good to know that you care so much about something.” 


Samantha Beattie, Wotton + Kearney
“What helps in achieving the best client results is not being too rigid, but being flexible and creative and learning to listen well”
Samantha BeattieWotton + Kearney



The Top Young Lawyers in New Zealand | Rising Stars

  • Alex MacDuff
    Russell McVeagh
  • Alice von Batenburg
    Senior Associate – Banking and Finance
    Anthony Harper
  • Andrew Durrant
    Special Counsel
    Fee Langstone
  • Andrew Logie
    Senior Associate – Property and Commercial
    Wynn Williams
  • Anna Cherkashina
    Senior Associate
    Norling Law
  • Barnaby Locke
    Senior Associate
    Dundas Street Employment Lawyers
  • Blake Carey
    Senior Associate
    AJ Park
  • Bradley Aburn
    Russell McVeagh
  • Brianna Boxall
    General Counsel
    Te Ohu Kaimoana
  • Carolyn Gillespie
    Senior Legal Counsel
  • Catherine Shipton
    Senior Associate
    Simpson Grierson
  • Charlotte Garland
    Mayne Wetherell
  • Claude Smith
    Senior Legal Counsel
    Meridian Energy
  • Emily Lay
    Crown Counsel
    Crown Law
  • Emma Kerr
    Senior Associate
    Anderson Lloyd
  • Evan Jones
    Legal Counsel and Player Services Manager
    NZ Cricket Players Association
  • Frida Klippel
    Senior Associate
    Russell McVeagh
  • Georgina Sanders
    Sole In-House Counsel
  • Hannah Bain
    Special Counsel
    Russell McVeagh
  • Hannah Jaques
    Senior Associate
  • India Townsend
    Senior Associate
    Simpson Grierson
  • Jacob Nutt
    Senior Associate
    DLA Piper
  • James Rowland
    James & Wells
  • Jane Maltby
    Senior Associate, Litigation
    Buddle Findlay
  • Janey Haringa
    JH LAW
  • Jeremy Ansell
    Senior Associate, Employment
    Duncan Cotterill
  • Jesse Strafford
    Senior Associate
    Henry Hughes IP
  • Jordan Oldham
    Senior Associate
  • Joy Wang
    Senior Associate
    Dentons New Zealand
  • Julia Leenoh
    K3 Legal
  • Julie Hands
    Principal Legal Counsel
    Hato Hone St John
  • Kathryn Evans
    Senior Associate, Employment
    Wynn Williams
  • Katy Stove
    Senior Associate
    Duncan Cotterill
  • Keegan Jones
    WRMK Lawyers
  • Kishan Gunatunga
    Senior Associate
    Chapman Tripp
  • Louisa Joblin
    Senior Associate – Privacy, Not-for-Profit and Commercial
    Duncan Cotterill
  • Mathew Brown
    Bell Gully
  • Matthew Gale
    Senior Associate
    Bell Gully
  • Nicole Thompson
    Senior Associate
    Dentons New Zealand
  • Olivia de Pont
    Senior Associate
  • Rachael Jones
    Senior Associate, Litigation
    Chapman Tripp
  • Renata Davis
    Kāhui Legal
  • Rosa McPhee
    Senior Associate
    Chapman Tripp
  • Ryan Keen
    Corcoran French
  • Shannon Chand
    Corporate Counsel
    Auckland Airport
  • Sherryn Harford
    Mayne Wetherell
  • Sophie Mentink
    Corporate Counsel
  • Susan Hur
    Head of Legal – Australia and New Zealand
    Aunew Group
  • Tamzin Dempster
    Legal Counsel
    Fletcher Building
  • Wendy Smith
    Senior Associate
    DLA Piper


As part of our editorial process, Key Media’s researchers interviewed the subject matter expert below for an independent analysis of this report and its findings.



In October 2023, NZ Lawyer accepted nominations for the 2024 Rising Stars list. The standout young stars from the New Zealand legal profession were invited to put their names forward; those who knew of and wished to highlight such talent were also asked to submit nominations.

Nominees needed to be 35 or under as of 31 January. They had to have committed to a career in the legal profession and shown a clear passion for the industry. The NZ Lawyer team also required nominees to cite their current position, responsibilities and key achievements over the past 12 months.

The team considered recommendations from managers and senior industry professionals in the review process conducted after the nomination period. After considering all aspects of the many submissions received, 56 emerged as the brightest young stars of the batch.