Two Kiwi lawyers heading to Harvard on scholarships

They begin schooling in August

Two Kiwi lawyers heading to Harvard on scholarships
Hannah Yang and Maddy Nash are recipients of the 2024 New Zealand Law Foundation Ethel Benjamin Scholarship.

Distinguished law graduates Madeleine (Maddy) Nash and Hannah Yang have been awarded the 2024 New Zealand Law Foundation Ethel Benjamin Scholarship. This prestigious scholarship will support their upcoming studies at Harvard Law School starting in August.

Nash received the Victoria Medal for her academic excellence after graduating with an LLB (Hons) from Victoria University of Wellington in 2019. She further completed a BCom in economics and finance in 2020.

She has experience clerking for Hon. Justice William Young at the New Zealand Supreme Court. Nash has worked at Meredith Connell in Auckland since 2022, focusing on commercial litigation, regulatory law, and criminal prosecution. She has also held part-time roles at the Law Commission and as a public law tutor at Victoria University.

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At Harvard, she intends to specialise in competition law, financial markets law, consumer law, and white-collar crime. Upon her return to New Zealand, she looks forward to contributing to law reform and teaching.

“My chosen focus areas appeal to my enjoyment of solving complex problems that draw on my interests and previous study in law, economics, and finance. The United States has lots of regulatory activity in these areas, especially recently. They are also areas in which New Zealand draws a lot on overseas approaches. I am looking forward to immersing myself in a different environment and bringing back what I learn,” Nash said.

On the other hand, Yang worked as a clerk for Hon. Justice Williams at the New Zealand Supreme Court after graduating with a BA/LLB (Hons) from the University of Auckland in 2019.

Currently a junior barrister at Thorndon Chambers in Wellington, she has acted as junior counsel in public, constitutional, human rights, climate change, and Tiriti o Waitangi law cases. Yang is particularly interested in the evolution of public law in New Zealand and the increasing incorporation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

At Harvard, she plans to study constitutional and democratic theory to explore the bases for legislative and judicial authority, considering New Zealand's unique history and its implications for Treaty incorporation. Yang hopes to make a meaningful contribution to New Zealand’s Treaty jurisprudence in the future.

“Greater recognition of the Treaty as a constitutional document in our law is long overdue, seeing as it is the basis upon which the modern New Zealand state was founded. There are questions, however, as to how such recognition should be effected, and whether it is legitimate for development to continue solely through the courts,” Yang said.

Established in 1997, the Ethel Benjamin Scholarship commemorates the centenary of Ethel Benjamin's admission as the first woman barrister and solicitor in New Zealand and the second woman in the British Empire to become a lawyer. The scholarship has supported postgraduate research in law for over 25 years with a value of up to $30,000.

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