Family Law

The ADLS Family Law Committee is actively involved in preserving the public’s access to justice throughout the on-going raft of reforms to the Family Court. The Committee makes submissions on draft legislation and actively engages with the Ministry of Justice on legal aid and other issues affecting both practitioners and the public e.g. the protection of children. It monitors the development in case law, including relationship property matters, and regularly communicates with the profession through surveys and articles.

Family Law Mentoring Programme

A difficulty often experienced by family law practitioners, especially those new to the legal profession, is a lack of contacts with whom they can discuss their options, their career direction, their work problems, their hopes and their fears.  The mentoring programme aims to link up recently qualified practitioners with practitioners who have been in practice for at least five years.  The programme is not exclusively for newly admitted lawyers.  We have had applicants with many years of practice apply to be mentored by more experienced practitioners, and been happy to oblige.

Click here to complete a Family Law Mentoring Programme application form online.

Click here for a copy of the Mentoring Programme Guidelines.

If you are interested in participating in the programme either as a mentor or as a mentee please complete the appropriate form above and return to - If you cannot return the completed form electronically please send it to Jodi Libbey at Auckland District Law Society Inc., P O Box 58, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140; DX CP24001. 

The committee's role is:

1. To represent Auckland Practitioners as an information gathering focus group of people who can identify and formulate problems, find strategies and implement resolutions for the issues unique to Auckland family law practitioners. Such issues are generally as follows:

  • Registries
  • Staffing 
  • Court Liaison Committees

2. To effectively disseminate information on those issues to Auckland practitioners. 

3. To formalise the gathering and circulation of the information, make submissions and lobby:

  • Auckland practitioners 
  • ADLS Law Committees 
  • NZLS Family Law Section 
  • Government Select Committees 
  • Ministry of Justice

4. To interface with the Family law Section on the issues affecting both local and national interests of family lawyers. 

5. To maintain a representative function that determines legal education topics, and reports to the Continuing Professional Department of ADLS. 

6 To have a networking function for Auckland practitioners with lunchtime forums, articles and media contacts


Stuart Cummings (Convenor)

Phone 09 376 4000 - Email
McVeagh Fleming

Alissa Bell

Phone 09 415 4477 - Email

Kathryn Buchanan

Phone 09 447 3567 - Email

Sonja Clapham

Sonja is a barrister at Shortland Chambers. Specialising in litigation challenging wills and disputes regarding deceased estates, her practice includes relationship property (especially de facto claims) and COCA disputes. She regularly presents seminars for ADLS. Sonja has practised in both Auckland and Sydney.

Phone 09 309 1769 - Email

Emma Gibbs

Phone 021 023 19258 - Email
Smith and Partners

Ellen Harbidge

Phone 09 836 0939 - Email
Hickey Law

John Hickey

John was admitted in 1981. After overseas travel he commenced sole practice on the North Shore in 1990. John appears in the Family Court and High Court including on parenting disputes (custody and access), relationship property including defacto couples, family protection and testamentary promises cases.

Phone 09 477 0333 - Email

Panama Le'Au'Anae

Phone 09 262 4764 - Email
Denham Bramwell

Amy McCormick

Phone 09 262 2145 - Email

Louise Reed

Phone 09 307 2220 - Email
Devonport Law Ltd

Cushla Webster

Phone 09 445 3105 - Email
20 Feb 2013

Family Court Proceedings Reform Bill

Submission to the Justice and Electoral Committee on the Family Court Proceedings Reform Bill

View PDF
16 Mar 2012

Fixed Fee Framework for Family Legal Aid

Submission to the Ministry of Justice on the paper: New Fixed Fees Framework for Family Legal Aid Providers

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29 Feb 2012

Family Court Review

Submission to the Ministry of Justice on the paper: Reviewing the Family Court: A public consultation paper

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23 May 2011

Proposed New Operating Model for District Courts in the Greater Auckland Area

Submission to the Ministry of Justice on the discussion document: Proposed New Operating Model for District Courts in Auckland

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20 Oct 2010

Legal Aid Quality Framework - Proposed Entry Criteria and Practice Standards

Submission the Ministry of Justice on the consultation document: Legal Aid Quality Framework - Proposed Entry Criteria and Practice Standards

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03 Dec 2013

Analysis of Results of Family Fixed Fee Survey

Analysis of Results of Family Fixed Fee Survey prepared by the Equal Justice Project

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