A Wellington man has won an appeal to become a lawyer - despite clocking up seven driving convictions over 36 years.

Four of John Llewellyn Stanley's convictions were for drink driving, the most recent occurring in 2014, which led the New Zealand Law Society to turn down his request to join the bar.

In the High Court last year, Justice Clark agreed with the Law Society, citing the fact his last conviction was just four years ago and she was doubtful of his ability to change.

However, he took it to the Court of Appeal, which agreed with him and stated it did not consider the 65-year-old to be at a high risk of reoffending and he'd given a genuine agreement not to reoffend.


Former policeman Ethan James Brown, who admitted sending inappropriate texts to a 13-year-old girl and was twice acquitted of sexual violation charges, failed in his bid to become a lawyer last year.

After the verdicts, he resigned and went on to study criminal law but was denied by Justice Wylie as he found Brown had not been open about his disclosures to police and still didn't appreciate how inappropriate his 2010 conduct was.

Meanwhile, Stanley's offending spanned nearly 40 years - his first occurring in 1978, his most recent in 2014.

His remaining three convictions were: driving at a dangerous speed in 1988, careless driving in 1991 and failing to stop for red and blue flashing lights in 2013.

In her decision last year, Justice Clark said his lengthy history of convictions did not give confidence he was reformed.

"Mr Stanley has not established he is a reformed person. I have found his assertions of reform to be unpersuasive.

"Mr Stanley resists any suggestion he may have an alcohol problem yet points to his self-imposed abstinence as being the substantial step which demonstrates there will be no further offending."

However, on appeal, Stanley's lawyer submitted given his first conviction for drink-driving was almost 41 years ago it was "irrelevant to the issue" whether he was now a fit and proper person.

He added that the 2002 and 2007 drink-driving convictions were "not as serious" and no disqualification was imposed by the judge at the time.

It had also been five years since his last conviction for which he now had insight and remorse and had "set a policy of zero tolerance" for drinking and driving.

In its finding, the Court of Appeal said even if Stanley did reoffend "that would not, in our
view, create an unmanageable risk of his bringing the profession into disrepute".

"The NZLS's disciplinary procedures exist in large part, for example, to maintain
public confidence in the profession.

"In the round, Mr Stanley is a 65-year-old who has acquired four convictions for drink-driving in the period 1978 to 2014. He is of good character and he continues to contribute to society, particularly through his church.

"He does have a genuine commitment not to reoffend and were he to reoffend similarly that would not create a meaningful risk of his bringing the profession into disrepute.

"The appeal is allowed. Justice Clark's refusal of Mr Stanley's application to
be admitted is quashed."