Leading the Dundas Street team, Susan has over 20 years' experience as a specialist Employment Lawyer.
Her extensive experience and formidable reputation combine to make her a respected advocate and adviser, whether around the bargaining table, acting in disputes or appearing before the court. She is often sought out to advise on complex / strategic matters and is seen as a "go to" lawyer for high profile disputes.
Susan’s expertise extends to all areas of employment law. Her real strength is in her ability to develop innovative solutions to problems and provide clear advice in a practical and accessible manner.
“The referral that I received to Susan was that she was as tenacious and determined as a Rottweiler – “she gets things done”. Though this description doesn’t immediately reflect the diplomacy and grace that Susan also brings to her work – it was certainly intended as a vote of confidence from the union official it came from. And it proved to be right…”
Susan has established strong relationships with her clients such that she is seen as a trusted adviser, and as part of their management teams enabling them to drive business outcomes.
Susan has extensive experience advising government departments and Crown companies and agencies whose role as an employer is complicated by public law obligations.
Susan’s areas of expertise include:
- Collective bargaining and industrial relations disputes;
- Remuneration strategies and systems;
- Strategic and transactional advice to clients in all aspects of employment law;
- Restructuring and organisational change;
- Official information, privacy and human rights issues;
- Mediation and litigation, up to and including the Court of Appeal;
- Board and Governance issues.
- Advised in relation to complex restructuring in the public sector including assisting in devising approaches to organisational structures to ensure organisations can achieve their desired outcomes;
- Provided strategic advice on Board and governance issues, and the exit of Chief Executives and senior employees;
- Provided strategic advice and/or advocacy in collective bargaining;
- Acted as counsel for the Christchurch City Council in cutting edge collective bargaining cases including Christchurch City Council v SLGOU  ERNZ 37, CA, the leading authority on communications during collective bargaining;
- Advised on the mergers of public sector agencies, including advising on the choice of legislative instrument, the identity of the employer, and technical redundancy issues;
- Represented employees in high profile personal grievance cases.
Susan is recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading Employment Lawyers in a range of publications and international directories including ALB magazine, Legal 500. Chambers International Law Directory ranks her as one of the top 3 Employment Lawyers in New Zealand.
Susan is the General Editor of the NZ Employment Law Bulletin - the most widely subscribed and well respected national Employment Law Publication.
Susan is a highly sought after speaker and Chairperson for key industry conferences. She also regularly presents seminars and webinars both for clients and for legal professional training providers.
Susan has contributed a fortnightly column in the DominionPost since 2011. She is regularly quoted in print and radio media and is a regular on "The Panel with Jim Mora". Susan has co-authored a book on Professional Ethics.
Susan is a board member of the Nikau Foundation, a unique charitable trust that receives donations and bequests, administering and distributing them for the benefit of the Wellington region.
"Commercially astute and client focused - a very good advocate with a fantastically analytical mind"
“Susan’s pragmatism in the dispute resolution field including candid assessment of our risks and the costs of proceeding is invaluable and her results for us in settling cases has been outstanding. She’s also a terrific litigator having won every case for us.”
Susan is an accomplished litigator and has appeared in a number of high profile cases up to the Court of Appeal including:
- Representing Airways Corporation in a claim relating to how rest periods for air traffic controllers should be managed.
- Defending Inland Revenue Department successfully in an unjustified dismissal claim brought in the Employment Relations Authority and Employment Court.
- Representing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in an unjustified dismissal claim brought in the Employment Relations Authority.
- Successfully representing an unjustifiably dismissed employee of Air New Zealand in a leading stress case.
- Representing the Christchurch City Council in a leading case which makes it possible for employers to communicate with union members during bargaining.
- LLB (First Class Honours) Otago
- Admitted to Bar 1992
Appointments and Associations
- General Editor, NZ Employment Law Bulletin
- DominionPost columnist since 2010
- Board member, Nikau Foundation 2015 - present
- Board member, Kensington Swan 2009 - 2010
- Partner, Chen Palmer 2011-2013
- Partner, Kensington Swan 2005 – 2010
- NZ Law Society Employment Law Conference Committee
- Employment Law Institute
- Member of Human Resources Institute NZ