News Item

June 2019

Biography launched on the life of lawyer Shirley Smith - 1916 to 2007

Sarah Gaitanos’ book “Shirley Smith: An Examined Life”, was launched today, at Unity books in Wellington.

The book provides a chronological story of the life of lawyer Shirley Smith from 1916 to 2007, based on Shirley’s papers and letters. The Law Foundation funded research for the chapters on her legal life. She is described as “one of the most remarkable New Zealanders of the 20th century, a woman whose lifelong commitment to social justice, legal reform, gender equality and community service left a profound legacy.”

Shirley qualified as a lawyer later in life, at the age of 40. This was after studying classics at Oxford before war broke out, and after marrying Dr WB Sutch and giving birth to their daughter. During her legal career of 40 years she broke down many barriers, her relationship with the Mongrel Mob epitomised her role as a champion of the marginalised and vulnerable.

Shirley has been referred to as “a remarkably warm and generous woman, one with a rare gift for frankness, an implacable sense of principle, and a personality of complexity and formidable energy.”

“Further information about Shirley Smith: An Examined Life”

The Law Foundation provided $21,600 towards the research for this book.

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