Blake Leader Stacey Shortall is an outstanding lawyer. But it's what she does to help and motivate others that makes her a remarkable leader. Respected globally in the legal community with more than 20 years of experience to her name, Stacey has a deep commitment to improving the lives of others, as a passionate advocate for the wellbeing of women and children, particularly in the prevention of violence.
Her limitless energy, enthusiasm and generosity in both the workplace and the community inspires others to use their time and abilities to make a difference too. Her call to action - “Who did you help today?” – has become a nationwide movement connecting skilled people with not-for-profit community projects.
A keen athlete, Stacey is also strongly committed to family as a single mother by choice of four children.
Growing up in Manawatu, Stacey’s farming parents instilled in her a responsibility to contribute to the community.
After graduating with conjoint degrees in law and accountancy at Victoria University, she obtained a Master of Laws in Canada. For 11 years, she was a top Wall St litigator at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison – named the best litigation firm in the United States by The American Lawyer in 2006.
During her time in New York, she became deeply involved in pro bono work, especially with vulnerable women and children. Among other projects she volunteered in New York women’s prisons, helping mothers understand their rights and obligations to their children, and took a sabbatical to help women and children in Ghana who were victims of violence.
When Stacey returned home to New Zealand in 2010 and became a partner in top tier law firm MinterEllisonRuddWatts, she continued to give equal importance to public interest work and paid work.
Building on her work in New York, Stacey set up the Mothers Project in 2014. The ground-breaking programme at the Auckland Regional Women’s Correction Facility helps imprisoned mothers have meaningful relationships with their children and empower them to make better choices. She has also trained other women lawyers to assist mothers in prisons.
Wanting to encourage other people from her firm to be involved in the community, Stacey established the Homework HELP Club in the low-decile Holy Family School in Porirua. Volunteers help kids with their homework one afternoon a week and provide role models. She has launched a nationwide campaign which is seeing other homework clubs begin in decile one primary schools in Auckland and Wellington.
She founded the “Who Did You Help Today?” charitable trust so skilled people can connect with not-for-profit community projects - part of her belief that everyone has the desire to help others, but need to find the right pathways to do so. She is currently developing other initiatives to stop violence against children in their homes.
Stacey’s leadership and generosity of spirit have been acknowledged with a number of awards. In 2015 she received the Community and Not-for-Profit award at the Women of Influence Awards for her work with women and children. In the same year, she was named the Law Fuel New Zealand Lawyer of the Year, for “the ability to transcend her legal career to create significant social programmes”.
She has been recognised as a leading lawyer in New Zealand by Chambers Global and Chambers Asia Pacific, Legal Media Group and NZ Lawyer – where she made the 2015 Hot List.
As a leader in the workplace, she builds teams around her to defend clients in high-profile litigation cases. A partner in the MinterEllisonRuddWatts dispute resolution team, she also leads the way in recruiting female and male lawyers who want more flexibility in their work arrangements. She serves as a mentor and sponsor to women in the firm.
Specialising in high-level work for financial institutions, companies and public sector entities, Stacey has acted for finance company directors facing FMA action following their failure, as well as acting on Canterbury and Wellington earthquake issues and representing Pike River directors and officers following the 2010 mine tragedy.
She has been instrumental in introducing the new Health and Safety at Work Act and has co-written a comprehensive guide to the new laws. A strong communicator and public speaker, she runs health and safety sessions pro bono for some public interest groups seeking cultural change around workplace safety.
One of the highlights of Stacey’s career so far has been successfully balancing being a mother of four young children with being a partner in a large law firm. Somehow, she also manages to find time to also create significant social programmes and to keep fit. A former top netballer, tennis and ultimate player, Stacey is also an Ironwoman and has run marathons.