DLA Piper NZ COO takes the helm at Law Society

Joanna Simon will be the first Auckland-based CEO in the organisation’s history

DLA Piper NZ COO takes the helm at Law Society
Joanna Simon

The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa has announced the election of DLA Piper NZ COO Joanna Simon as its new CEO.

“Joanna brings a wealth of experience from her previous roles, including her recent position as chief operating officer at DLA Piper New Zealand, the first global law firm in New Zealand. She really impressed the recruitment panel with her proven leadership of a large executive team, adept communication skills and in-depth knowledge of modern legal practice,” Law Society President Tiana Epati said.

Epati was among the members of the interviewing panel established to determine the successor to outgoing CEO Helen Morgan-Banda. The panel included Auckland and South Island board members, as well as former president Chris Moore.

The appointment of Simon concludes a stringent recruitment process that saw candidates from both New Zealand and abroad come before the panel.

“We were particularly impressed with [Simon’s] commitment to the legal profession and understanding of where we are uniquely placed to effect positive change in Aotearoa New Zealand today,” Epati said. 

Simon will be the first Auckland-based CEO in the Law Society’s history, and the organisation’s council confirmed the appointment in a resolution passed following a consultation. Epati said that Simon would split her time between the Law Society’s offices in Wellington and Auckland.

“She also intends to travel to other branch offices over the next year to ensure a personal kanohi ki te kanohi approach,” Epati said. “This is a positive step given almost half the legal profession and some of our most diverse lawyer groups are in the wider Auckland region.”

Simon takes the reins at the Law Society effective 26 July. Until then, she will remain DLA Piper's COO. “I think the choice of Jo by the New Zealand Law Society Te Kahui Ture O Aotearoa is an astute one given that she is a hugely effective change agent and can deal adeptly with the lawyer personality," DLA Piper NZ managing partner Martin Wiseman said, "Jo has attributes which are seldom all found in one leader which include: an ability to flawlessly execute a vision and strategy, resilience, unflappability, tenacity, intelligence, judgment and utmost discretion. If the Law Society is strongly led, the profession will be stronger and the rule of law and access to justice in Aotearoa New Zealand will be better safeguarded. Everyone at DLA Piper wishes Jo all the best for this next exciting stage of her career.”

Epati lauded Morgan-Banda for her contributions, especially in relation to the Law Society’s COVID-19 response.

“On behalf of the board, I want to thank Helen Morgan-Banda for the positive contribution she has made to the Law Society and her assistance during a very challenging time for the organisation,” Epati said. “Her achievements include dealing with complex operational legacy issues whilst successfully leading the executive team response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.”

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