Litigating for a better legal landscape

NZ Lawyer speaks to Julie Ding of K3 Legal, discussing the impact of the pandemic on the industry and her future plans with the firm

Litigating for a better legal landscape

Since Julie Ding’s elevation to director at K3 Legal last November, it’s been a storied period for both the firm – and indeed, New Zealand at large. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the courts are still open though in a greatly reduced capacity and with heavy delays in cases being heard. 

It’s certainly been a source of frustration for Ding, but she remains philosophical, adopting something of a utilitarian mindset. 

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” says Ding. “However, there isn’t a perfect solution when weighing the public health of the whole country. Everyone’s doing their best to make sure that we can get as many cases heard as possible.”  

While there’s been investigation and investment into tech-based solutions to help ease the burden, Ding remains sceptical that these will ever fully replace face-to-face court meetings.

“They definitely have their purpose, and I think we will see a push to utilise it more heavily over the next few years,” says Ding. “But as a country, I don’t think we have the online infrastructure at the moment to facilitate it properly at this stage. It definitely has useful applications for prisoners and long-distance witnesses, but when you’re dealing with sensitive legal matters you really can’t afford to have lag or dropout on video.”

Ding is well-aware that some of this reticence may stem from her own enjoyment of the courtroom process though. Having started her legal career at a small firm specialising in criminal matters, Ding found herself, a young solicitor, frequently arguing in court far more so than might have been ordinarily expected.

“Lots of people who enjoy that aspect tend to move straight into being barristers,” says Ding. “Certainly it had its challenges – the main thing is to always be properly prepared – but once you get used to that rush, I have discovered it’s not always so daunting.”

It’s a trait that she’s carried over to her role at K3 Legal – and indeed, it’s one of the things that attracted her to the firm in the first place.

“As a solicitor you’re not necessarily expected to be in court all the time, but as a firm we’re very competent in that arena,” says Ding. “It’s a useful skillset, and handy to have these resources within the firm. In fact one of the services K3 Legal provides is to assist other firms that may need lawyers familiar with the Court and can appear for their clients.”

Looking ahead, Ding sees one of her priorities as continuing to ensure that K3 Legal always has the right person to help clients – whatever the issue may be.

“Our firm is always looking for people who are flexible and hard-working in their roles. It’s not necessarily about expansion – it’s about meeting the needs of our clients and the community that need our help.” 

And for herself personally? Ding plans to continue taking on legal aid work. Already a category 3 provider, she plans to apply for category 4 “as soon as possible”.

“Though it’s been a bit busy this year, as you can imagine,” she notes. 

Day to day though, she plans to keep on, keeping on.

“I want to continue what I’m doing,” says Ding. “Appearing in court, arguing cases and doing trials. Litigation is one of my passions, and it’s a skill that I want to be able to refine.”

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