She is a recognised advocate of diversity in the profession
Jacqueline Lethbridge has been elected the next president of the New Zealand Law Society, becoming the third consecutive female chosen for the position.
Lethbridge will take over from current president Tiana Epati once her term ends in April next year. The Auckland lawyer will also be the fifth woman and one of the youngest to be elected to the role. She currently serves as the Law Society’s vice-president in Auckland.
“It is an honour to have the opportunity to lead the Law Society at a time when the justice system, the rule of law and the legal profession are facing unprecedented challenges and changes,” said Lethbridge.
“The Law Society has started a journey to better reflect our society and, as someone who has come from very humble beginnings, that is something I wish to see continue. We need lawyers – and judges – who mirror the makeup of our society. Good lawyers are forged from a multitude of backgrounds,” she added.
Lethbridge is a partner at Martelli McKegg Lawyers, where she heads the litigation team. She specialises in commercial and civil litigation with a focus on restructuring and insolvency.
Prior to this, she was a litigation partner at Lowndes, where she worked until 2019. Lethbridge also worked in civil litigation at Grove Darlow & Partners, becoming the Auckland firm’s first female partner in 2012.
She began her law career at the Waitangi Tribunal in 2001 before practicing criminal law as a prosecutor and a defense lawyer at the Public Defense Service in 2004.
Lethbridge is also actively involved in promoting diversity in the law profession. Because of her advocacy, she was recognised as a changemaker in the NZ Lawyer Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers 2021 list and a Top Diverse Board-Ready Director for 2021 by the Super Diversity Institute.
“Lethbridge would like to use her experience as a working parent in the law to tackle the continued glass ceiling for women,” the Law Society said in a statement.
Lethbridge has held various board positions in several legal professional organisations, including as chairperson of the Board of Auckland Community Law Centre and a member of the board for the Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association of New Zealand. She was also a council member of Auckland District Law Society, where she served on the Standards Committee.
Lethbridge is a current member of the faculty of NZLS CLE Litigation Skills and an adjunct lecturer for the College of Law.