Legal honour real surprise

By Amy McGillivray

Tauranga lawyer Kate Barry-Piceno is honoured to have won the same award previously presented to one of her idols, Greg King, who was found dead on Saturday.

Ms Barry-Piceno was named Barrister of the Year at the 2012 New Zealand Law Awards in Auckland on Thursday night and was devastated to learn of Mr King's death yesterday.

She recalled seeing the Wellington lawyer, who recently represented murder accused Ewen Macdonald, presented with the Barrister of the Year award in 2007.

"He was a truly brilliant barrister. He was one of my mentors in terms of his ability to never give up and try every angle and keep on fighting to the end. All of those things I admire about how he fought a case," she said.

"He would have to be one of the top barristers New Zealand has seen ... he was utterly focused on his case and believed in justice. For the rest of us barristers, we hope to have a glimmer of his brilliance in the court room."

Ms Barry-Piceno did not expect to win the premium award and was busy celebrating a friend's success at the awards when she heard her name announced.

"It was a big surprise actually. I really didn't expect to win. It's been going for eight years now and it grows every year and more and more people get involved. It's quite an honour to even get nominated," she said.

To top it off she also won this year's Resource Management and Environmental Law Award and was the only individual barrister among the finalists for it.

"It's generally expected to be a firm so that was pretty special," she said.

Ms Barry-Piceno felt the awards said more about the clients who nominated her than herself.

"They must have put a lot of effort into what they wrote. It's quite amazing it makes you think it's worth getting up in the morning."

The mother of three has been a practising lawyer for almost 20 years and has had success at the national awards before. In 2009 she won the Resource Management and Environmental Law Award and was runner-up for the same award last year.

She has specialised in the area since completing her Master of Laws degree at the University of California in Berkeley in 1994.

"I'm interested in administrative law which is about local government or government agencies following due process and being fair, and that plays itself out on a very regular basis in resource management so it's ended up that's what I've gravitated towards," she said.

More than 2000 clients of lawyers, ranging from individuals to many of New Zealand's biggest companies, participated in nominating, voting, and rating their lawyers to determine the winners of the awards.

Tauranga was well represented at the awards.

Cooney Lees Morgan was second runner-up for the ASB Mid-size Law Firm of the Year Award, and a finalist for the Crombie Lockwood Regional/Suburban Law Firm of the Year.

Ronayne Hollister - Jones Lellman solicitors were a finalist in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution category and first runner up in the specialist Family Law category.

Holland Beckett Lawyers was second runner-up for the Thomson Reuters Infinitylaw Corporate and Commercial Law Award and a finalist for Mid-size Law Firm of the Year, Regional/Suburban Firm of the Year, Employer of Choice, the Corporate and Commercial Law Award, Family Law Award, and Resource Management and Environment Law Award. Mackenzie Elvin was a finalist for Employer of Choice.

Intellectual property lawyers James & Wells, who have an office in Tauranga, was first runner-up in the Canon Intellectual Property Law Award.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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