Partner Sue McCormack was elected as the Chancellor of the University of Canterbury on 1 January 2019 and will be retiring from the firm at the end of March. Sue has had a long and distinguished career as a lawyer for nearly 35 years and will be missed by us all. However, the opportunity to head the University of Canterbury is a fantastic honour, and Sue will excel in that role just as she has with the firm for so many years.
Sue was previously the University of Canterbury’s Pro Chancellor and she is currently a director of KiwiRail. Sue has also been a director of the Lyttelton Port Company, the NZ Symphony Orchestra and the Public Trust. Sue was heavily involved in the University’s $1.2 billion post-earthquake construction programme, and she is looking forward to leading the University into its next stage, with the assistance of the new Vice Chancellor, Professor Cheryl de la Rey. For the first time in history, the University will be led by two women.
Sue has always been a trailblazer – twenty-five years ago she set up the first female law firm in Christchurch along with Fiona Wakefield and has had a very large and successful practice with many loyal clients. Sue merged her firm with Simon Mortlock Partners thirteen years ago. Many of the staff at Mortlock McCormack Law have worked with Sue for over twenty years and I know how much she cares about all the people she works alongside at Mortlock McCormack Law.
Sue’s practice has focussed largely on commercial, company, property and construction law and she worked closely with many of her clients as they rebuilt their property portfolios after the earthquakes. One example of this is The Terrace – Sue worked with Antony Gough, both as a lawyer and as a strategic advisor, as Antony and his family built The Terrace, navigating through the various challenges raised by such a large rebuild project. The Terrace is a huge success, and an important part of rebuilding our city - and is testament to the skill and foresight of all involved.
Sue has also enjoyed her pro bono work which she has been very involved with during her career including; Dress For Success, Clown Doctors New Zealand, New Zealand Gynaecological Foundation and two school boards. The firm is of course also committed to many charities including Christchurch City Mission, Ronald McDonald House, Air Rescue and The Wayne Francis Charitable Trust.
I asked Sue to consider her legal career and future, this is what she had to say:
“During my legal career, it has been an honour and a privilege to work with and establish long-held relationships with my clients. Each client I have worked with has been unique and has brought with them a range of life experiences, cultural backgrounds, and legal and strategic challenges. I have very much valued these professional working relationships and will miss all of my clients, along with all the superb people I work with here at Mortlock McCormack Law. However, I know the team at Mortlock McCormack Law will continue to offer very good service and I appreciate the trust that my clients have put in me and our firm. It is an end of a partnership but I am very much looking forward to a range of new opportunities, including my role as Chancellor of the University of Canterbury and my directorships, current and future.”
Sue truly is more than just a lawyer – to her clients, and to those of us fortunate enough to work with her, she is a trusted advisor, mentor and friend, and we wish Sue all the very best for the next exciting chapter in her career.
Sarah Manning - Partner