News Item

December 2014

Winner Announced for 2014 Cleary Memorial Prize


Seamus Woods is the 2014 winner of the New Zealand Law Foundation Cleary Memorial Prize. Not only is he a top academic achiever, he also has an impressive background in community service; to his law school and fellow students, and the wider community.

In 2012 Mr Woods was winner of the New Zealand Law Society Canterbury-Westland branch gold medal in law; an award that is presented annually for the top student graduating with an LLB from Canterbury University.

Four years earlier, he won the University Prize for the highest achieving first year Māori student across all schools and departments at Canterbury University.

While at university, Mr Woods was President of both the New Zealand Law Students’ Association (NZLSA) and the Canterbury Law Students’ Association (LAWSOC).

In the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes, he established and ran ‒ through LAWSOC ‒ a tutorial programme for compulsory law subjects when the law school was unable to do so, owing to a lack of facilities. While at University he also helped co-ordinate and participated in a Salvation Army programme feeding homeless people and sex workers in Christchurch, and was a regular volunteer caseworker at Community Law.

As NZLSA President, he oversaw the introduction of measures to address the prevalence of mental health difficulties among law students.

Mr Woods graduated with an LLB (First Class Honours) and a BSc in biochemistry and was admitted in December 2013. Mr Woods received 13 top scholar prizes in Law during his studies.

A judge’s clerk for Justice Ellen France at the Court of Appeal, he will join Luke Cunningham Clere as a junior Crown prosecutor next year.

The former Paraparaumu College Dux plans to pursue a career primarily in litigation.

“I aspire to be a general barrister because I am yet to encounter an area of law I do not enjoy, and I think conducting court work would be stimulating and enjoyable,” he says.

The Cleary Prize honours the memory of Sir Timothy Cleary, past President of the Wellington District and New Zealand Law Societies and a Court of Appeal Judge until his death in 1962. It recognises the example Sir Timothy’s own life set for young people entering the profession.

The New Zealand Law Foundation awards $5,000 annually for the Clearly Memorial Prize.

This is given to a young barrister or solicitor who shows outstanding future promise in the legal profession.
Previous winners

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