Russell McVeagh partner James Gardner-Hopkins had us wondering what had happened when his profile disappeared from Russell McVeagh’s website on 1 April. And so we enquired and found the environmental lawyer had gone to the bar.
Mr Gardner-Hopkins has cut a colourful figure about the capital and elsewhere with occasional dreadlocks and even winning a best dressed award from “Fishhead” magazine in 2013.
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So why the move?
Mr Gardner-Hopkins statement:
I formally retired from partnership at Russell McVeagh on 31 March 2016 to pursue the next phase of my career at the bar. I had joined Russell McVeagh as a summer clerk in 1999, becoming a partner in 2009. I am of Niuean descent, and was the firm’s first Pacific Island partner.
I was privileged while at the firm to learn from and work alongside leading environmental lawyer Derek Nolan, as well as leading Maori lawyers Paul Majurey and Christian Whata (now Whata J).
At the time of my retirement from partnership, I headed Russell McVeagh’s Environment Planning and Natural Resources Team, as well as the firm’s Maori Legal Group. I am proud to see Russell McVeagh’s continuing commitment to diversity at all levels, including through recruitment, as well as various other initiatives. I consider it important for the profession generally to have lawyers of all backgrounds represented in firms, at the bar and on the bench.
I am currently heavily involved in appeals against the grant of consent to leave the wreck of the MV Rena on Astrolabe Reef in the Bay of Plenty. This work involves a rich tapestry of tangata whenua interests and issues. I also continue to be involved in a range of other work, and am pursuing opportunities in the Resource Management, Maori Legal, Local Government, and Public Works Act areas in particular.I am enjoying the independence and flexibility of the independent bar and the opportunity to work with a range of firms as instructing solicitors (including Russell McVeagh). I am also enjoying working with clients who might not otherwise use a major firm but who have compelling and challenging cases to pursue.While I practice across the country, I continue to be based in Wellington – at Woodward Street Chambers with Hamish McIntosh, Jason Herron and John Prebble.