ILANZ, In-House Lawyers Association of New Zealand


2024 Award Winners

2024 ILANZ Award Winners

This year's ILANZ awards attracted yet another high standard quality of nominations from across the country! The finalists were selected based on their exceptional legal skills, leadership abilities, and commitment to their organisations and communities.

Our judges want to emphasise that each nominee should be proud of their achievements, regardless of the final outcome. Your hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence have not gone unnoticed.


Individual award finalists and winners

Public Sector In-house Lawyer of the Year

Winner: Margot Gatland - FMA
Margot, a standout leader in FMA's enforcement, has had an exceptional year. In 2023, FMA secured nine significant High Court judgments, the highest ever achieved in a single year, marking a historic success in its twelve-year history.  

While teamwork played a vital role, Margot's management ensured smooth coordination, resource allocation, and consistency in investigations and litigation. Known for her honesty and clear communication, Margot is highly regarded within the FMA Enforcement team.  

Her tireless efforts in shielding the team from stress and pressure have allowed seamless progress in daily activities, Margot is an extremely well-liked and respected leader of the FMA Enforcement team and always puts her team first. 

Private Sector In-house Lawyer of the Year

  • Aimee Sandilands - Manawa Energy
  • Christine Loughnan - Catalyst
  • Louise Martin - Auckland International Airport

Winner: Aimee Sandilands - Manawa Energy
Since joining Manawa in June 2022, Aimee has been responsible for the establishment and leadership of Manawa’s first in-house legal team, which includes Aimee and two other senior lawyers. 

In this short time, the value the team brings to Manawa and the regard the business has for it is evident. Aimee’s strategic focus on corporate/commercial BAU and major projects aligns seamlessly with Manawa's strategic goals as an independent power producer – to have a competitive development pipeline, a contracting strategy that facilitates growth and to maximise existing assets. 

Under Aimee’s leadership, Manawa’s in-house legal team has quickly established a reputation for delivering high quality, pragmatic legal advice across Manawa.

MAS New In-house Lawyer of the Year

  • Nicole Chelmis - Contact Energy
  • Philie Deo - Hato Hone St John
  • Richard Monigatti - Maritime New Zealand
  • Romina Seylani - Douglas Pharmaceuticals Limited

Winner: Philie Deo - Hato Hone St John
The breadth of Philie’s references and supporting people was impressive. Particularly noteworthy is her pivotal role during the March 15 Christchurch Mosque Terror Attacks where she provided invaluable support to St John's with unwavering professionalism. Transitioning seamlessly from non-legal roles into her current position, Philie's adaptability and initiative shine through. Her ability to swiftly establish herself as a respected figure within her organisation underscores her exceptional leadership qualities.

Despite her relatively short tenure, Philie's impact has been profound, earning her praise and securing a permanent position within her organisation—a testament to her competence and dedication. Notably, Philie's involvement in the scale of the coronial inquiry sets her apart, a rare opportunity in the legal profession that speaks volumes about her expertise and commitment. 

Highly Commended: Richard Monigatti - Maritime New Zealand
Richard has worked in-house at Maritime NZ for three years following a successful start as a lawyer in private practice. In 2022, Richard was promoted to manager of MNZ’s litigation and operations unit. From that time, Richard has led the national team through a period of significant change and has managed complex investigations and litigation proceedings, including those involving multiple fatalities. 

Last year, Richard led the team in completing their first in-house prosecutions. He has also contributed deeply to strategic initiatives in Port safety. 

Richard has gone from strength to strength in his development as a new manager, advancing both his impact on his team and the wider organisation.


Team award finalists:

Small In-house Team of the Year

  • Barfoot and Thompson
  • Catalyst Legal Team
  • DPMC / NEMA Legal Services Team at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Hato Hone St John Legal Team

Winner: Hato Hone St John
The Legal Team at Hato Hone St John help, advise, and guide the organisation to deliver outcomes that meet Manaaki Ora: The vision to enhance health and well-being for all. They enable good practice and safeguard Hato Hone’s ability to operate and have been instrumental in several undertakings and commitments to support these focus areas in the last year.   

The Team led St John’s participation as an Interested Party in the Coronial Inquest into the March 15 Christchurch Mosque Terror Attacks. This included managing the preparations for a 7-week hearing (with 15,000 documents in evidence), supporting eight staff witnesses, and engaging closely with teams throughout the organisation to respond to information requests and to provide appropriate evidence.

Chapman Tripp Private Sector In-house Team of the Year

  • AIA New Zealand
  • Auckland International Airport
  • Contact Energy Legal Team

Winner: Contact Energy Legal Team
The Contact Legal Team is a small but high performing team of exceptional lawyers.

The Team supports Contact’s exciting and ambitious strategy, working across generation, development, corporate and retail matters to lead Aotearoa’s decarbonisation. The Team’s work has been crucial in Contact’s initiatives including large scale renewable development in wind, solar, geothermal and battery projects.

The judges noted that they were impressed by their references and key initiatives and particularly loved the section in their submission around ‘when things went wrong’ and how the team navigated these situations. As noted in their nomination “The Contact Legal Team has been described as a curling team, sweeping the ice so the organisation runs smoothly”.

Greenwood Roche Public Sector In-house Team of the Year

  • Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation (Guardians)
  • Maritime New Zealand

Winner: Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation (Guardians)
The Guardian’s Legal team proactively support all areas of the business, which has been crucial to the Guardians achieving its strategic targets and helping deliver long-term benefits to all New Zealanders, including the Fund reaching a value of nearly NZ$70 billion, and drafting important submissions on significant law changes.

The impressive amount of work in key projects that the team have assisted on and the high level of integration they have within the business helped put the organisation a step forward.  

Special award finalists


Simpson Grierson People & Culture Excellence Award

  • Aunew
  • Auckland International Airport
  • Contact Energy

Winner: Contact Energy Legal Team
The Contact Energy Team prioritises workplace wellbeing and culture whilst providing excellent legal services during a period of major growth. The Team successfully balances competing aspects, to create a positive, uplifting and forward-focused environment.  
The Contact in-house legal team deals with a number of high trust matters which often involve sensitive and confidential information. The team consistently provides pragmatic, reliable and well-considered guidance across all areas of the business.  
The team use their failures as a learning and kindness and empathy shone through, and the team clearly get involved in with the organisation. 

Artemis In-house Innovation Award

  • Auckland International Airport
  • Barfoot and Thompson
  • Christine Loughnan - Catalyst

Winner: Barfoot and Thompson
The Legal & Compliance Team, has demonstrated exemplary performance in navigating complex legal challenges, ensuring regulatory compliance, and contributing significantly to the company's success. Their proactive approach to legal matters has played a pivotal role in mitigating risks and fostering a culture of ethical conduct within our organisation.  

The judges were particularly excited and intrigued to see how the Legal & Compliance teams are using technology to enhance their practice. The incorporation of Al technology the team are experimenting with will assist the organisation to gain a better understanding of the services the organisation provide to their customers and clients. 

ComplyWith Community Contribution Award

  • Bernice Smith - Te Puni Kōkiri
  • Sam Fellows - Tauranga City Council

Winner: Sam Fellows
In his current role as General Counsel and Manager: Legal, Risk and Procurement at Tauranga City Council, Sam also helps anywhere he can, and the judges were quick to take note of his large portfolio of places where he contributes to his community. He has been involved in refereeing rugby union, since he was 14 years old and has also been involved in Camp Quality New Zealand, a charity that provides support and camp for children living with cancer, since he was in high school.

In addition to all this Sam also helps whenever or wherever he can, this includes recently having given his 100th Plasma Donation, being involved in beach clean ups, helping with school
activities, and even seen on a Friday afternoon supporting his kids on road patrol outside their school. 

Congratulations to our winners and finalists!