Janna McGuigan, President

Janna joined Bankside Chambers in February 2017. Her practice covers general civil and commercial litigation, and she has a special interest in trusts and estate litigation. Prior to going to the Bar, Janna was a senior associate at Wilson Harle, where she worked for five years. Janna has been a committee member of the AWLA for four years, and believes that the organisation has a vital role to play in promoting and achieving gender diversity in our profession. She looks forward to continuing AWLA’s advocacy agenda, especially in respect of reporting on firms’ diversity initiatives and supporting equitable briefing policies.

Alicia Murray, Vice-President

Alicia recently joined DLA Piper as Special Counsel. She is a commercial litigator, with a particular focus on regulatory litigation. Alicia has been on the AWLA committee for four years and is a passionate advocate for women lawyers. Although she acknowledges there have been many positive developments in recent years, there is still some way to go before there is true equality of opportunity for women in the legal field. Alicia is looking forward to 2017, and the work that AWLA can do to help move the gender diversity discussion forward and support women lawyers in Auckland.

Briar Charmley - Secretary

Briar returned to Auckland in mid-2015 after almost nine years away from the city. She is currently Crown Counsel in a Public Law Team at Crown Law. Prior to this, she spent a year in the UK completing her LLM, a year in South Asia working for an NGO, and almost six years in Wellington where she worked in Crown Law’s Criminal Team, including an 18 month secondment to the Attorney-General's Office. This was preceded by 18 months in the Dispute Resolution Team at Minter Ellison. She has been a member of the AWLA committee for one year and will continue contributing to the committee as secretary in 2017.

Stephanie Aquilina - Treasurer


Stephanie joined Pidgeon Law as a law clerk in 2015. She recently completed her law degree at the University of Auckland. Her interests lie in property and international law. Stephanie’s background includes various roles in tourism, event organisation, and teaching, which saw her living with her family in France for a number of years. Stephanie joined the AWLA committee in 2016 and took up the administrator role. Stephanie brings experience in event organisation to the committee, coupled with her interest in the advancement and promotion of women’s interests in the legal community.


Anna Parker (nee King) - Committee member

Anna is in the litigation team at Hesketh Henry. She has served on the AWLA committee for the past year and is incredibly passionate about advancing women in law. Anna has assisted with many AWLA events, and she organised the first mentor evening of 2016. Mentoring is one of the core functions of AWLA, and along with the mentoring sub committee Anna has matched up many mentees with incredible mentors throughout the year. Anna also assisted in organising AWLA’s first quiz night which was a huge success and she hopes to make it an annual event.

Elisha Kemp - Committee member

Elisha is a senior solicitor at Russell McVeagh in the Public, Regulatory and Competition team. She also tutors Contract Law at Auckland University. Originally from Hawaii, Elisha moved with her Kiwi partner to New Zealand 10 years ago. While studying at Otago University, she set up her own IT training and consulting business, clerked at a barristers' chambers for Anita Chan QC, and acted as Magazine Editor and Vice President for the New Zealand Law Students' Association. She joined Russell McVeagh and moved to Auckland in 2013, after completing an LLM in Private International Law at UCLA.

In her spare time, Elisha enjoys practising French, volunteering as a French tutor at the InZone Education Foundation, surfing, snowboarding and spending time with family and friends.

Evelyn Bradley - committee member

Evelyn works in the corporate commercial team at Webb Henderson and is passionate about gender equality and bringing women’s issues to the fore. She held various social function and event organising roles at high school and at Victoria University, and her time at Webb Henderson has encouraged her to build on these skills. As the editor of Webb Henderson’s monthly Thinking Business publication Evelyn has strong skills in managing an online campaign platform and website management, including design and coding. A keen learner, in 2016 Evelyn completed Harvard Business School’s certificate programme on the fundamentals of business with honours as well as Harvard Business School’s certificate programme in finance. In addition to English, Evelyn is fluent in Dutch and has a sound understanding of Spanish.

Georgina Toomey - Committee member

Georgina Toomey is an associate at Harmos Horton Lusk, a specialist corporate law firm. She has been practising for six years and joined the AWLA executive in 2016. Georgina is passionate about promoting the interests of women lawyers, and looks forward to continuing to support AWLA and its members in 2017.

Kate Muirhead - Committee member

Kate is a commercial litigator and Crown prosecutor at Meredith Connell. She has served on the AWLA Committee for two years. She returns in 2017 to help strengthen the relationships between AWLA, the NZLS Women’s Advisory Panel and the NZBA, so that AWLA can work more effectively and efficiently with those two groups, particularly regarding equitable briefing policies.

Melissa Fini - Committee member

Melissa has had a varied career in law, practising in the commercial property and commercial law areas (at Russell McVeagh, then Anthony Harper). She has since taught commercial law related topics, and instructed on the legal executive programme and the law professionals course. More recently, Melissa was the CPD Manager at Auckland District Law Society Inc. She set up new technology-driven initiatives (such as the live streaming of seminars, interactive On Demand recordings and the semi-automated online CPD plan and record). Melissa is currently with Simpson Grierson in a professional support lawyer role.

Natalie Devery - Student Representative (AUT)

Natalie is a 4th-year Honours student at the Auckland University of Technology. She was appointed as AWLA's AUT student representative in May 2017. She is passionate about human rights, animal rights and international environmental policy issues. She hopes to pursue a future in international environmental law. Natalie is also the two-term secretary of Te Aro Ture (Maori Law Students’ Association at AUT). She volunteers at YouthLaw in her spare time, and enjoys keeping fit at the dog park with her two pooches and cooking new and exciting dishes.


Rebecca Rose - Committee member

Rebecca is a Senior Associate in the litigation and dispute resolution team at Bell Gully, Auckland. She undertakes both advocacy and advice work for New Zealand and international clients operating in the private and public sectors. Rebecca is experienced at managing complex and high value civil and commercial disputes arising in a wide range of contexts, including contract, corporate/commercial, property, overseas investment, resource management, tax, judicial review/public law, insurance/reinsurance, and trusts and equity.

Since commencing practise, Rebecca has been involved in a number of high profile cases. She has appeared (as either lead or junior counsel) in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of New Zealand, as well as in major commercial arbitrations and mediations. She is also admitted as a permanent member of the Cook Islands Bar.

The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2017 identifies Rebecca as a next generation lawyer for dispute resolution. In 2016, Rebecca received the Highly Commended award for the Young Private Practice Lawyer of the Year (under 36) at the New Zealand Law Awards.

Rebecca is a previous winner of the Cleary Memorial Prize and a past Pegasus scholarship recipient. From 2010-2011, Rebecca took her LLM at Cambridge University as a WM Tapp scholar. Before joining Bell Gully in 2013, Rebecca worked at another leading national law firm and the Crown Law Office as Assistant Crown Counsel and Intern to the Solicitor-General, David Collins QC. From 2008-2010, Rebecca was a judge's clerk in the Supreme Court of New Zealand to the Rt Hon Justice Blanchard.

Rez Gardi- Committee member

Rez was born in a United Nations refugee camp in Pakistan after her family escaped their homeland owing to the persecution of Kurds. She is the first in her family to graduate from secondary school and university and she is now New Zealand’s first Kurdish female lawyer. Rez works at Chapman Tripp and she is passionate about working for the support and advancement of women in the law. She was selected as a New Zealand youth representative to attend the “Women Deliver”conference held in Copenhagen in May 2016, where she had the privilege of meeting Helen Clark. She also won the AWLA Margaret Wilson scholarship in 2014. Rez is particularly interested in increasing junior involvement in AWLA and appealing to young women from ethnic minorities to become involved in the organisation. She was the founder of the Kurdish Youth AssociationinNewZealandandworkedastheyouthadvisorfortheNewZealandRedCross as part of their humanitarian team, working on projects for refugee youth in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Nelson. She is passionate about supporting young refugees through education and mentoring, to try and address the underrepresentation of refugee students in tertiary education, particularly female refugees.

Sarah Wilson - Committee member

Sarah Wilson is a Senior Solicitor at Meredith Connell. Her practice covers both Crown and regulatory prosecutions, as well as civil litigation. Prior to joining Meredith Connell, Sarah worked at Chapman Tripp and Chen Palmer. This is Sarah’s first year on the AWLA committee; however, she has been on the Auckland Young Lawyers’ committee for the past two years and has been involved with UN Youth New Zealand for a number of years. Both these other organisations have given Sarah significant experience in event organization, and she is looking forward to using this experience as a part of the AWLA committee. Sarah believes that the work of AWLA is crucially important in terms of both advocacy and education, and is looking forward to assisting with this work in 2017.

Sylvie Arnerich - Student representative (University of Auckland)

Tracey Fitzgibbon (Ngapuhi) - Committee member

Tracey is a lawyer at the Public Defence Service in Auckland, specialising in criminal defence work. Prior to this she as was Legal Counsel for the Office of the Chief Coroner. She was a police officer before obtaining her law degree and she ran her own private investigation company. Tracey’s past roles have been in male dominated areas and this has highlighted the barriers that can face women in the advancement of their chosen career. She has been involved in a number of committees in the past and can bring this experience to the AWLA.