Profiles of newly appointed Queen’s Counsel

Law News asked our 14 newly appointed Queen’s Counsel to answer some brief questions about themselves – some personal, some professional – so our readers can get a glimpse into what makes these silks tick. This week we put the spotlight on Paul Radich QC and Matthew Palmer QC, both of Wellington.

Paul Radich QC

Paul Radich QC

Paul Radich QC graduated LLB (Hons) from Victoria University in 1986. He worked for a number of Wellington law firms, and prior to going to the independent bar in 2012 was a partner and board member at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts. Currently a barrister at Clifton Chambers, he specialises in public law advice and litigation for public bodies including government departments and Crown entities.

What prompted you to go into law?
My cousin was a partner with Russell McVeagh and I would work there during school holidays as a young teen. The office environment was an inspiring place for a young lad from Wainui but I think I was most impressed with my cousin’s car. (But then I never did find myself on an exotic car pathway and am now paired happily with a dear old 1974 Holden.)

What gets you excited about your job?
The workouts we give our minds each day.

Of what achievement are you most proud (personal and/or professional)?
I don’t know about pride, but a high point in my career was my appearance in the Privy Council in a tussle between a bank and an insurer in the mid-1990s. And then receiving the judgment.

What is the greatest challenge presented by your role?
Appearing in Waitangi Tribunal inquiries. It is a forum that challenges participants in so many ways – requiring one to question the law, rather than just to apply it, to test historical accounts and to absorb the emotion of a large and often passionate audience.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned (thus far, in your career/life)?
That if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. The expression belongs to Albert Einstein but applies so well to the work of a lawyer.

What is your favourite legal or politicalthemed movie/book/TV series of all time?
Kiwi Keith – A Biography of Keith Holyoake by Barry Gustafson. This is the story of a downto- earth man from a simpler time (often seen at his Kinloch property digging fence post holes, his trousers held up with twine) whose sheer determination saw him rise to be a commanding figure in our political history. “Just breathe through your nose,” he would tell his young MPs. Still good advice in our more vocal age.

Matthew Palmer QC

Matthew Palmer QC

Matthew Palmer QC graduated LLB (Hons) from Victoria University, LLM at Yale Law School and JSD (Doctor of Laws) from Yale in 1994. He joined Treasury in 1988 before moving to the Ministry of Justice as Deputy Secretary for Justice (Public Law) in 1995. He was Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of Law at Victoria University from 2001 to mid- 2006. He then joined the New Zealand Law Foundation as an International Research Fellow, researching and writing The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand’s Law and Constitution, which won the Legal Research Foundation’s J F Northey Award for best book published by a NZ-based author in 2008. He joined Crown Law as Deputy Solicitor-General (Public Law) from 2008 to 2012 before joining Thorndon Chambers as a barrister specialising in public law.

What prompted you to go into law?
I did economics first and got interested in law and economics as a field of study and work. So I’ve enjoyed being President of the Law and Economics Association of New Zealand over the past year.

What gets you excited about your job?
I like how being a barrister gives you the opportunity to help a wide range of New Zealanders with such a very wide range of problems.

Of what achievement are you most proud (personal and/or professional)?
Helping to bring up my five children!

What is the greatest challenge presented by your role?
Time management.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned (thus far, in your career/life)?
Always be open-minded.

What is your favourite legal or politicalthemed movie/book/TV series of all time?
As a public servant I always enjoyed “Yes, Minister”. But at present I am revelling in the US version of “House of Cards”.

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