We always wondered . . or did we already know?
They retreat to comfortable beach and lakeside homes, spend more time at Golf and tidy up their Bridge techniques. And get under their wives’ feet at home (because most of them are still men, remember). Dame Sian has not left the building yet.
However, LawTalk has given us the lowdown on what some of retired jurists are doing with themselves. Several re-enter the legal world as mediators and arbitrators.
Among the list –
No Slippers at Home for Sir Rodney
Rodney Hansen is at Shortland Chambers enjoying himself. It’s where he was prior to his appointment, where he served 14 years as a High Court judge.
At a fit 70 (‘the new 60’) he enjoys the work, Shortland Street, the coffees and stimulation. Being at home with the slipper was not for him.
“It did make the transition easier. It felt right even in a very different capacity to how it was when I left. I particularly liked my time as a barrister and to re-join the profession was really attractive and appealing. Life as a judge is quite an isolated and sometimes solitary existence. Sometimes you feel as though you are working in a monastery or a very cloistered environment where you cease to have those relaxed day-to-day interactions with colleagues other than with other judges and court staff,” he told LawTalk.
He understands perfectly the convention of not returning to in-court advocacy however.
“When I became a judge you were required to give an undertaking that if you retired as a judge, you would not appear in court. That’s not an imposition in any way because going back to advocacy work would be turning the clock back, whereas this is about moving on. The only time I have been back in court aside from ceremonial occasions is sitting on the Court of Appeal in some of the Pacific Island nations,” he says.
His work in the Pacific is enjoyable and a “refreshing diversion” he says. He spends time two or three times a year for a week or two, attempting to have judgments out before returning home.
“ I’ve found it hard work but really rewarding.”
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Sir Ian Barker – A Life With Three Careers . . And The Trump Tower
Sir Ian Barker has enjoyed his three careers – each spanning about 20 years – with his third career as an arbitrator/mediator being enjoyable but the least stressful. The work variation, keeping a sharp mind on legal issues, travel and the stimulation of mediation and arbitration work has appealed in his ‘third trimester’.
“When you retire, you’ve got to find something to keep yourself occupied. I’ve managed to include plenty of travelling and other family events. There are a lot of advantages to being able to pick and choose work rather than have to head up to a criminal trial somewhere on a Monday morning.”
Arbitration or alternative dispute resolution work has taken Sir Ian around the world and he once spent five weeks in Toronto working on a case.
“We actually stayed at Trump Tower … I see it has been renamed,” he says.
David Williams QC – Reinvention Rather Than Retirement
David Williams QC didn’t so much retire as simply resign from his High Court position – a decision that caused considerable discussion and debate among the profession – and change careers with great distinction.
Now a foremost mediator and arbitrator and LawFuel Power List member, his abilities are globally recognised with several major aribrations to his name.
A barrister and arbitrator at Bankside Chambers, also on Shortland Street. he is also named by Chambers Global 2014 as among the top 40 most in-demand arbitrators internaitonally for public international law.
He is also frequently appointed to arbitrations involving Treaty-based disputes.
His resignation occurred a short time after his elevation to the Bench and his further decision to return to law practice was one that was never evaded, but created some interest from the perspective of judicial convention.
The reinvention of his legal career has unquestionably been a spectacular success. And it hasn’t lead to a stampede to the exits for those judges who feel they too are not really suited to the role to which they have been appointed.
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Graeme Colgan – Professional Pro Bono
Graeme Colgan, former Chief Judge of the Employment Court, mostly works as a mediator or arbitrator, an independent investigator or as a barrister providing opinions or other work such as drafting pleadings.
He isn’t back in the law just to earn a living. He is also involved in pro bono work for Auckland Community Law Centre.
“They’re doing really innovative work in helping out litigants with employment cases. I’ve also been doing some mentoring for other employment lawyers who perhaps need a sounding board to discuss a difficult ethical question. I’ve been taking calls in that area from around the country and I enjoy doing that. It’s professional pro-bono and something that retired judges can do well.”
Mr Colgan was appointed as a judge at the relatively young age of 35, so there’s a freshness about practising law again.