Alumni update - November 2022

A note from Andrew

From NYC to Dunedin, we keep you in contact with our BG family in this issue of Alumni Update.

Taryn Gudmanz is the newly appointed South Island Vice President of the NZLS. She followed her husband south after returning from London telling him she would give it two years to see how she liked it. That was 15 years ago and she is in no hurry to move.

Camille Wrightson, on the other hand, has recently upped sticks to study for her Masters at Columbia in New York. She tells us the best places for bagels (easy) and the more elusive coffee finds.

Grace Stacey-Jacobs has recently returned from London, coincidentally having practised in Taryn’s former firm, Clyde & Co for a stint.

It just shows, wherever you are in the world, we can stay connected.

Finally, after 30 years in Featherston Street, the Wellington office has a fabulous new home on the waterfront. Check out the photos in this issue.

Andrew Petersen

Welcome Home

Grace Stacey-Jacobs

What have you been up to since leaving Bell Gully? Who did you work with when you were here previously?

After leaving the employment team in April 2017, I spent about five months travelling through the US and Europe. We spent two and a half months in the US, starting in San Francisco and finishing in New York City. Along the way, we had stops in the Grand Canyon - hiking from the North Rim to the South Rim (highly recommend, although probably not in the month of June…), Austin, New Orleans, Washington DC, and plenty of other cool spots. After working in the UK for three years, I returned to New Zealand for the birth of my daughter, Isobel.

You worked for Herbert Smith Freehills for two years, and at Clyde & Co for a year before that in London, tell us about that. 

I really enjoyed working in London. I had wonderful colleagues at both firms. The teams were much larger than what I was used to, but they were still cohesive, supportive, and tight-knit. Herbert Smith Freehills, where I spent most of my time working while in London, was an inclusive firm with a keen and genuine focus on issues such as diversity and mental health. It was fascinating to witness how the firm (and other City firms for that matter) responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of flexible working, particularly given its size and global reach. In 2020, despite continued uncertainty and an entire workforce still out of the office, HSF announced a global policy of agile working, which meant that staff were only required to be in the office on average 60% of the time. It was a huge and decisive step change for such a large organisation, but in some ways it demonstrated how simple organisational change can be.

You might not be able to tell us about some of your most interesting work while you were there due to confidentiality? Or can you?

I worked on a number of high profile "team move" disputes, which are quite common in certain competitive industries in London. A team move is where a group of employees conspire to leave their employment to join (or start) a competing business in breach of their employment obligations. One team move I worked on involved approximately 50 employees - half of whom resigned on the same day. Needless to say, we had a lot of workstreams on the go: investigations, advisory work, preparing for injunctions, litigation, etc.

I was also the lead senior associate on a complex whistleblowing investigation into allegations against senior managers in the financial services industry. The allegations related to culture concerns (including discriminatory conduct) and regulatory breaches. I really enjoyed wearing an "investigator" hat for a few months. The investigation involved interviews as well as a large document review. It never ceases to amaze me the things people put in writing (on their work systems, no less...!)

What type of work were you doing in London that are increasingly relevant to our New Zealand clients?

The work I did on team move matters in the UK involved advice on the enforceability of restraints of trade. We have seen a recent focus on non-compete clauses in New Zealand - which echos trends overseas - in terms of the impact these restraints have on the labour market and the ability of employers to compete for talent/employees to change employment freely. There have been moves overseas to ban the use of non-competes for lower paid workers and there is currently a Member's Bill making its way through Parliament which seeks to do the same here in New Zealand. 

I also worked on a number of sexual harassment investigations and grievances, which is unsurprising given I arrived in the UK at the same time that the #MeToo movement was taking hold. Sexual harassment complaints no doubt increased in the wake of this movement, and so too did a focus on the role of legal professionals in reaching out of court settlements with complainants on behalf of their clients. It may well be that we continue to see an increase in workplace sexual harassment complaints in New Zealand, particularly if the time for raising a personal grievance for sexual harassment is extended from 90 days to 12 months, as is currently proposed in a Bill which is expected to pass into law.

What was your lifestyle like in the UK?

We were lucky to live in Bermondsey, which is very central (think a 10 minute walk to each of London Bridge and Tower Bridge). I would often bike across London Bridge to get to and from work. I really enjoyed not having a car and being in a city that had very good public transport. Of course, weekends were often spent travelling in the UK or Europe.

Before coming back to New Zealand I ....  

Spent nine months working from home full time (from March to December 2020) due to the pandemic. Working from home for such an extended period with three other working professionals in the flat was challenging at times – I recall taking many client calls from my standing desk (aka, my ironing board) in my bedroom!

What prompted your decision to return to New Zealand?

I was pregnant, and we decided that it would be sensible to return to New Zealand given it was a (then) COVID-free paradise, in stark contrast to the UK at the time. It turned out to be a very good decision, as shortly after we left the UK in December 2020, the Omicron wave took hold, Boris Johnson “cancelled” Christmas and the UK was plunged into a further strict lockdown over the winter months. It was a very difficult period for my colleagues and friends in the UK, and I feel so fortunate to have secured an MIQ booking before the implementation of the lottery system that locked other Kiwis out of the country.

What does your new role at BG entail?

I’ve returned to Bell Gully as a senior associate in the employment and workplace safety team. I advise on the full spectrum of employment issues, including personal grievances, restructuring, disciplinary matters, performance issues, restraints of trade etc. I also advise clients in relation to workplace health and safety matters, including incident investigations and WorkSafe prosecutions.

Have you noticed any major differences since you left?

When I first returned to New Zealand, I noticed a significant difference in the amount of te reo Māori being incorporated into everyday life - from the names of government entities, to the incorporation of the language on the news, and just generally in every day conversation. Now that I've returned to work, it's awesome to see that te reo is being embraced within the firm and the wider profession, too.

Pleased to be back?

Absolutely. It has been so nice slotting back into a familiar space, with friendly faces, especially after taking some time out to raise my daughter.

Where are they now?

Taryn Gudmanz, Barrister and Mediator, newly appointed South Island Vice President of the NZLS, Dunedin

When did you leave Bell Gully and who did you work with?

I left in 2004. I was in Jill Mallon’s team, along with people such as Pravina Singh, Carl Reaich, Sarah Kennedy-Good, “Big Jenny” and “Little Jenny”, Glenn Shewan and, of course, Jill Kennerley to keep us all in line. I also had time over with the good people at PHARMAC.

What are your memories of Bell Gully?

I have such good memories of the people. My year group was really close. I still have close friends in that group who I turn to for advice and support. We even had a 15 year reunion in 2017. We descended on Wellington again and visited old haunts. Lots of Malaysian food was consumed! 

The Wellington litigation team was large at the time, and there was a great crew of characters. Everyone had a great sense of fun – I can remember chair racing around the floor one night, and the punishment for leaving your computer unlocked was to have an embarrassing All Users email sent from it… Of course, the costume parties were legendary. 

After Bell Gully you travelled a well-worn path to London, tell us about your work there?

I was a solicitor in the commercial litigation team at Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (now Clyde & Co). It turned out that I was the advance guard for my Bell Gully summer clerk year group, as I ended up also working in that team with Cath Manson, Jonathan Scragg and Anna Dixon! All the antipodeans got together and performed “I come from a land down under” one departmental karaoke night. 

We did a lot of insurance litigation, and the exposure to the London market was fascinating. We went to a function at Lloyd’s once, which really helped to make sense of how the insurance slips get written. I was also privileged to go to the Privy Council on an appeal out of Jersey. We were acting for insurers, and the solicitors from Jersey played the main role, but it was nevertheless an incredible experience. I got to tick something off my bucket list when I jumped into a black cab and said “Downing Street, please”! 

And your life outside of work?

We travelled as often as we could through Europe, and managed a cheap trip to New York too (which is where we got engaged). A lot of our travel was done in the depths of winter. On the one hand, we enjoyed the beautiful Christmas markets and a particularly spectacular New Year in Czesky Krumlov. On the other hand, after seeing Auschwitz in mid-winter, I cannot comprehend how anyone survived. We took the overnight train to Poland, and being woken by the fierce, armed security guards in the middle of the night to check our passports was certainly an experience. We could never get enough of Italy either.

Being in London was a unique experience for me, as it brought together my school friends from South Africa, my university friends from Christchurch and my Bell Gully and Profs friends from Wellington. We lived in the City for the last eight months, and so we could walk to work and explore the City on foot. I highly recommend it.

But on your return to New Zealand you moved to Dunedin, what took you south?

My husband! He had gone back to university as a mature student, and had already done his OE by the time we met. I then announced that I was moving to London… He basically commuted during his degree, studying during term time and working in London during his holidays for the firm that he had worked for previously (it was a complicated visa arrangement). After his degree, he moved to London. But having done it before, it wasn’t quite as exciting for him. He was also eager to get on with his career as an architect – he had a good job with partnership potential awaiting him in Dunedin. So, I told him I would give it two years and see how I liked it. That was 15 years ago.

What is it like practising in Dunedin?

Accessible is probably the best word that I have to describe it! If there is someone here who you want to meet, you will have a mutual acquaintance and get an introduction. There are plenty of opportunities available to people, with lots of innovative people doing interesting things across a range of sectors. The bar is friendly and collegial. It is so helpful when you know the lawyers on the other side. 

What is your lifestyle like in Dunedin?

If I go for a walk at lunchtime, I can go through the bush and be in a totally different environment, which is great for clearing the head. Our children go to a small local school, and it is part of a real community. The community Facebook page alerts you to all the important matters, like sea lions bathing on the local beach. 

Central Otago is easily accessible, and lots of lawyers have baches in the same villages, so you bump into people you know when you’re out and about too. It’s pretty easy to go for a weekend skiing, or to pop up to Oamaru for some steampunk and good kai at Riverstone Kitchen. There are a lot of interesting things to engage with, whether it is the outdoors, lectures, festivals or food courses. The struggle is finding the time.

Any downsides?

The biggest downside at the moment is flights. There are fewer direct flights, and it is more expensive. The 4am wake up call is never fun. Hopefully things will go back to normal.

Congratulations on appointment as the South Island Vice President of the NZLS

Thank you! I’ve been involved with the Otago Branch Council for about 12 years, and I became president in December 2021. That gave me a seat on the NZLS national council, which gave me greater insight into governance issues for the profession. Generally I have enjoyed my involvement with NZLS (and the New Zealand Bar Association│Ngā Ahorangi Motuhake o te Ture) because it forces me to lift my head from my daily work and think about the bigger picture issues for the profession – such as access to justice and the rule of law. I would like to see a strong, independent profession made up of a wide cross-section of people, who are engaged and who actually enjoy being lawyers.

What do you miss about Wellington? About working in a larger law firm?

I enjoyed living in Wellington, and how close everything was. It was a great place to be a young professional. The access to governmental decision making creates a different atmosphere in the city, and there is simply more work available. People can discount the skill of lawyers in smaller centres, which is frustrating. But I am seeing more people moving to the South Island and working remotely, so that will be an interesting development.

The collegiality of being in a big firm was great. I certainly miss the resources and support structures! Being a barrister in a small chambers is a whole different kettle of fish.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

We have two children who are juniors at primary school, so there is not a lot of spare time. We live on the Otago Peninsula, so we explore the peninsula. I’ve recently bought a paddleboard, which I’m enjoying learning to use. We also have a bach in a small village in the Manuherikia, where we spend a lot of time. We have 16 acres, so I garden and generally enjoy spending time on the property. We spend the summers exploring the area and hanging out with the locals. There are a lot of good swimming holes. 

It is great to bump into Bell Gully alumni out and about…

Recently I’ve been working with Paul Radich on the New Zealand Bar Association│Ngā Ahorangi Motuhake o te Ture Council, and it has been an absolute pleasure working with him again. Also good to see that he hasn’t lost his love of a good pun.

Alumnus snapshot

Who: Camille Wrightson

Position: 2014 Bell Gully Scholar, summer clerk 2016/2017

Where: Wellington office

Team: Litigation with Rachael Brown and Mark Cunliffe

Most recent job in New Zealand: Crown Law's Constitutional and Human Rights team.

I started in February 2020 about three weeks before the first lockdown and an enormous shift in the work that team does day to day. While keeping up litigation and advisory work on all sorts of constitutional and human rights issues, from prisoner litigation to parliamentary privilege, we were faced with a deluge of COVID work: assessing measures the Government did to combat the pandemic for consistency with the Bill of Rights Act, and then defending much of the eventual litigation. It was an extraordinary privilege to work there at that time.

Currently: Studying for an LLM at Columbia University, New York.

I get to study a range of topics with a range of incredible professors…

This semester I'm taking Civil Liberties with a long-time legal director of the ACLU, Access to Justice with a former judge of 30 years, Mental Health Law with a sitting judge and long-term mental health law advocate, European Union Law with a legendary member of the faculty, and a student-organised reading group on Palestine and the Law. Next semester I'm hoping to take classes on Negotiation, Gender Justice, and an externship with some community organisations. 

My classmates are…

The LLM cohort is about 300 people from over 60 countries, with an average of over five years' work experience. So there is a huge range of people to meet and stories to hear! Most of my classes are small, about 15 people, so there's lots of room for discussion. 

The best thing about doing my Masters is…

The space to think and debate and discuss such a fascinating range of issues. I have experience in some of the classes I'm taking and others I'm going in totally cold, which is such a luxury. Columbia also hosts some amazing academics and leaders from around the world so it has been great to hear from them. And generally just meeting so many new and interesting people.

In a typical day at Columbia…

I have classes at 9am three days a week (a real change from my undergrad days) so I'm usually on campus early. The reading load is quite heavy (especially for the Socratic classes) so I'll head to the library for a couple of hours, then there is almost always a catered lunch event on - a panel of academics or other interesting people, or a club meeting, or a featured speaker. I'm a big fan of all the free food. After that I'll have another class, or head back to the library for some more reading or research for my assignments. You may well find me at one of the nearby pubs after that, gossiping with the other Kiwi LLMs about another weird thing we've discovered about life in the US (this week's discovery: no cab rank rule!).

I love that that the Columbia campus is away from the real big city vibes of NYC…

It’s in Morningside Heights, north of Central Park and very close to Harlem. I'm not sure how well wee Wellingtonian me would survive with that energy (and noise) 24/7. We're only ever a ~20 minute subway ride away from the action. It's been amazing hearing so many different languages as I'm walking around, and I'm always shocked at how busy everything is. Even if you've got a reservation for a popular restaurant, you'll probably have to wait in line outside for half an hour. There is always something on and somewhere to go, and you're always in someone's way!

I like to spend my spare time…

Doing a lot of touristing still. I love walking through Central Park and different neighbourhoods, and going to museums and galleries. We've also made it to a Yankees game and the US Open, plus a Broadway show. I'm trying to make the most of outdoor activities before the weather changes and I need to bust out the snow boots... 

Best bagels in NYC: Bagels are easy in my part of town: Absolute Bagels. There's almost always a huge line out the door. An ‘Everything bagel with scallion cream cheese’ is my go-to.

Best coffee in NYC: More of a challenge... But Plowshares is a local roastery I like. 

Wellington new premises​​

The Wellington office has moved! After some 30-odd years in the ANZ Centre, the Wellington team have taken up residence at the Bell Gully Building, 40 Lady Elizabeth Lane, on the waterfront. ​​​​​​​

Check out our stunning new Te Whanganui-a-Tara home!

Alumni update

Congratulations to former partner David Cooper on his appointment as King's Counsel.

Arrivals and departures

Tax lawyer Phoebe Adams is working at Simpson Thacher in London.
Serene Apaipora has joined the Fisher & Paykel legal team.

Pip Arnott joined the Wellington property team in October. 
Senior associate Sarah Cahill joined the Auckland litigation team in October.
Alice Coppard joined the Parliamentary Counsel Office in August.
IT project manager Julie Cotter left the firm in September.
Beth Donaldson started at the Commerce Commission in October.
Legal secretary Tina Gilbert rejoined the firm in October.
Matt Handford is working for Mayne Wetherell.
Information security consultant Kim Hoskin is working for Russell McVeagh.
Will Hulme-Moir joined the Resource Management team in October.
Marketing manager Nikki Langford left the firm in November.

Joy Leahy joined the Auckland secretarial team in August.

Harry Leishman is legal counsel with Emirates Team New Zealand.
Hanan McMillan is working for ASB.
Harini Meiyappan joined the Auckland litigation team in October.
Eve O’Connor joined the Wellington litigation team in September.
Jacques Odendaal joined the Auckland corporate team in September.
Max Prat has joined the Wellington team as corporate receptionist.
Susannah Shaw has taken an in-house technology lawyer role at ANZ at the end of November.
Tobias Taane has joined the Wellington litigation team. 
IT administrator Graeme Turner left the firm in October.
Litigation secretary Yvonne van Niekerk left the firm in September.
Daniel Vizor has rejoined the Auckland litigation team.
Charlotte Watt joined the financial services team in Auckland in October.
Hannah Wilson joined the Auckland team in September in a 12 month contract role as front of house assistant.
Olivia Woolford joined the Commerce Commission in August.

Eventful Bell Gully

A night under the stars

The Auckland office enjoyed a magical night under the stars at St Matthew-in-the-City.

Yvette Edwards event in Wellington

The Wellington Women at Bell Gully committee hosted an evening for staff and clients at the beautiful Yvette Edwards floral studio. 

Wellington sports day

In August the Wellington office had their first annual Bell Gully Sports Day at the Wellington Indoor Sports Centre. Players could choose between cricket or netball (or both, if you were extra lucky or ordered to by David Coull).

Mission accomplished

Bell Gully’s annual City Mission winter appeals filled bellies and hearts. There were boxes full of good kai and essentials to deliver in Wellington and Auckland.

In addition, the firm donated a further $1,000 to each of the Auckland City Mission and the Wellington City Mission towards their winter food drives.

Bringing everything to the table

Nobody looks forward to the annual table tennis champs than partner Torrin Crowther. 

Level 18 Auckland world mini putt championship

September saw the inaugural Level 18 World mini putt championship. There was great engagement by all the teams in their hole construction (some fantastic efforts) and in play, and some great banter! 

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2022

The week began with a gathering of our people in each office on Rāhina to share a delicious hāngi lunch together and learn more about te reo Māori.

In Tāmaki Makaurau we heard from guest speaker Te Whainoa Te Wiata who spoke about the whakapapa of te reo Māori and highlighted the connection between the language and tikanga. We learnt how the two are interconnected and the importance of learning tikanga when learning te reo.

In Te Whanganui-a-Tara we heard from guest speaker Te Matahiapo Safari Hynes who spoke about the history of te reo Māori. Te Matahiapo used Māori and local history to explain how knowledge of te reo Māori throughout New Zealand declined, before discussing key milestones and actions that served, and continue to serve, as important steps in furthering the knowledge and use of te reo Māori. We then practiced pronunciation of te reo Māori.

It was a great start to Te Wiki o te Reo Māori and helped us learn more as we each continue on our journey with te reo and tikanga.

Tāmaki Makarau bingo night

Te Whanganui-a-Tara treasure hunt

Blocks of Miraka Kirīmi chocolate were strategically hidden around the Te Whanganui a Tara office. How many te reo clues could you answer?


The Auckland Women at Bell Gully Committee and BelonG hosted Jennifer De Bel from Downlights.

Downlights (a pro bono client of the firm) produces luxury fragranced soy candles and is run as a social enterprise supporting young adults with Down Syndrome and intellectual or learning disabilities. 

Spirit to Cure

Congratulations to the Auckland Bell Gully team who really ‘stepped up’ for the charity event Suncorp Spirit to Cure.

Glenn Joblin, Cait Dowden, Beth Donaldson, Tim Shiels, Catherine Fu, Sophie Thompson, Taylor Hamlin, Jaime Rodger, Catherine Cunneen, Jessica Watson, Scott Lochhead, Alex McNichol, Anna Carman, Alicia Williams, Haley Stephens and Eiden Ackland climbed over 5000 steps at Eden Park and raised $11,500 in the process. This was the highest team tally! 


Back to the 90s

The Wellington team farewelled their Featherston Street nest for the last 30 years by going back the 90s!

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

After a tough couple of years, the 2022 Mental Health Awareness Week theme was Reconnection – with the people and places that lift you up, hei pikinga waiora.

The firm co-ordinated great daily programmes throughout the week reminding us that there are lots of little things we can do every day to nurture our mental health.   

Monday - Reconnect morning tea 

Tuesday - Keep learning – fostering strong mental health

Wednesday - Take notice - mindful colouring

Thursday - Be active - lunchtime yoga, Shut up and Dance


Friday - Give - fundraising quiz

SPCA Cupcake Day

The sweetest way to make a difference

Auckland BG bakers put on their aprons and got to work on this annual favourite - making cookies, cupcakes and marmalade to raise money for SPCA Cupcake Day.

Eat My Lunch

A few BG early risers helped make over 1,000 sandwiches for children in need. The lunches were delivered to children in schools across the Auckland region.

Nicole Rebstock event

The Women at Bell Gully Committee hosted a networking event for intermediate lawyers and clients at Nicole Rebstock’s Commercial Bay store. 

Cocoon House art gallery 

A fabulous Women at Bell Gully event brought senior women clients together.


Diwali - festival of lights - was celebrated with traditional snacks and sweets. 

Legally speaking

Congratulations to Liz Coats who won an Asia Pacific Women in Business Law Award. Liz was named as Labour and Employment Lawyer of the Year in September.


Takovers Panel appointment

Corporate partner Anna Buchly was appointed deputy chair of the Takeovers Panel in September.

The Takeovers Panel is New Zealand's principal regulator of the corporate takeovers market and ensures a level playing field for investors and shareholders.


Super stars

Congratulations to Toa Vulangi who was named as a recipient of an International Tax Review Rising Stars Award Asia Pacific 2022 and the jurisdiction award for New Zealand.


The IFLR Asia Best Lawyers list came out in October and congratulations to James Gibson and alumnus Liz Lim who were two of only three New Zealand lawyers to make the list this year - and James was the only New Zealand corporate lawyer to receive the accolade. Lawyers included in the list are considered to have received the ‘highest and most consistent praise from their peers and clients’.

New Zealand Law Awards

We were very proud to come away with a quality haul of perspex trophies from the New Zealand Law Awards this month.

The firm won arguably the top award of the night, securing the Large Law Firm of the Year trophy. In addition, we won three top Deal of the Year Awards: M&A, Debt Markets and Insolvency.

For the full list of award and excellence winners see here.

Bell Gully career opportunities

Bell Gully has some of the country's brightest legal and business minds working together in a close-knit and supportive environment.

If you are thinking of returning to firm there are some great opportunities and we would love to hear from you.