Waikato practices make prestigious Law Awards finals

Jon Calder, Tompkins Wake CEO.

Jon Calder, Tompkins Wake CEO.

Erin Burke, Practica Legal director.

Erin Burke, Practica Legal director.

Sam Hood, managing partner Norris Ward McKinnon.

Sam Hood, managing partner Norris Ward McKinnon.







Waikato is well represented at the 2019 New Zealand Law Awards with at least four firms named as finalists, two of them in multiple categories.

Tompkins Wake has been named as a finalist in four categories, one more than last year and three more than 2016, and Practica Legal has been named in two, with Norris Ward McKinnon and Talbot Law also finalists.

Tompkins Wake has been a finalist in Deal of the Year categories for four years running.

The firm is also a finalist in the Employer of Choice (51-100 lawyers) category, validating the firm’s commitment to its people and building a firm that is a great place to work.

And the fact that Tompkins Wake chief executive Jon Calder is a finalist in Managing Partner of the Year (less than 100 lawyers) speaks to his leadership, something that was also recognised when he was named Chief Executive of the Year at last year’s Westpac Waikato Business Excellence Awards.

The final category the firm is a finalist in is Mid-Size Law Firm of the Year. That’s something Calder attributes to the firm’s exceptional growth, its commitment to its people and culture, as well as to innovation.

Norris Ward McKinnon is also a finalist in Mid-Size Law Firm as it marks its centenary in Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Erin Burke, employment lawyer and director at Practica Legal, says she is thrilled at the support she has received from her client base, which has led to Practica Legal being shortlisted, along with only four other firms nationally, in the category of Employment Law Specialist. This is the second year running for Practica Legal, and the only practice this year to get the nod from outside Auckland and Wellington.

Practica Legal is also one of eight finalists in Litigation and Dispute Resolution Specialist, and the only practice outside Auckland to make the finals in this category.

Talbot Law is a finalist in the Property and Construction Specialist Law Firm.  The firm represents a large number of clients in the property and construction sectors around New Zealand from its rural Waikato base. Specialist work areas include property and construction related court claims, mediations, adjudications and arbitrations as well as defending regulatory (RMA and Building Act) prosecutions. 

Talbot Law says being a finalist is as much about the support it receives from clients and work referrers as it is about the firm, and the team strive to make sure that support is repaid by giving the best advice and representation to find constructive, pragmatic and proportionate resolutions on every file.

Although a small team, they are agile and well-resourced and constantly seeking ways to improve delivery.  Talbot Law encourages and values client feedback to incorporate into the practice to further improve delivery. 

Practica Legal’s Erin Burke attributes client satisfaction to her pragmatic, cost-effective, personable approach which generally results in the swift resolution of disputes.

“Legal disputes, which can be stressful and time-consuming, distract both employers and employees away from their core business,” Burke says. “Providing excellent service relies on ascertaining exactly what a client wants to achieve, and then applying extensive legal knowledge to achieve that goal. This is Practica Legal’s underlying
principle, combined with timely, straight-talking communication.”

Calder says Tompkins Wake are proud of the nomination for deal of the year. “We’re incredibly proud of that and it’s a real reflection of the work our Corporate and M&A team does on deals of significance,” says Calder.

The nomination is for the work Tompkins Wake did on establishing the Melody Dairies joint venture, alongside Deloitte, Buddle Findlay and BNZ. The joint venture is building a $50m spray dryer which is expected to deliver $129m in export returns a year, primarily through supporting the development of the consumer branded sheep milk industry.

Founded in 1922, Tompkins Wake provides legal services to clients across New Zealand from its offices in Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, and Tauranga.

“Over the past decade we’ve continued to grow and invest in building a team of exceptionally talented people focused on specialisation and expertise,” Calder says.

“We pride ourselves on providing a workplace where our team feels valued, safe and supported, and their achievements celebrated.”

Talbot Law recognises it is part of a diverse community by participating in professional organisations such as the Society of Construction Law and Registered Master Builders.  It sponsors and participates in the Trillian Trek, raising money for disadvantaged Kiwi kids, and also sponsors local sports including Fraser Tech Rugby. Talbot Law acknowledges its staff who contributed so much to its success in being a finalist.

Burke notes that national recognition for the Waikato law firms is not just good for lawyers, but for the Waikato as a whole. “Business is booming in Waikato, and having nationally-recognised legal advisors here is recognition of the region’s increasing growth and strength,” she says.


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