ZESPRI General Counsel, Katherine Evans, was awarded the Corporate Lawyer Association of New Zealand (CLANZ)-LexisNexis Corporate Lawyer of the Year at the 2010 CLANZ Conference held in Rotorua on Friday.
The award recognises an in-house lawyer who has made a valuable contribution to the organisational goals and has contributed to New Zealand’s in-house legal profession.
Ms Evans said that while receiving the award was very exciting for her personally, it also highlighted the significance of the contributions ZESPRI makes to both the Bay of Plenty and New Zealand.
“I am very fortunate to be in a role which provides me with the opportunity to consider a variety of legal issues both in New Zealand and offshore, and even more importantly, the chance to work with, and learn from, a network of extremely experienced and knowledgeable directors, executive team and external legal advisors.
“The culture of ZESPRI and the New Zealand kiwifruit industry is one of unwavering commitment to success and a drive for continual improvement, which is truly inspiring – it’s great to be a part of that,” she said.
Ms Evans was selected from a strong pool of nominations, including individuals from the State Services Commission, Auckland International Airport, Ministry of Fisheries and PGG Wrightson.
As General Counsel, Ms Evans advises ZESPRI on a wide range of legal matters across the business, including commercial contracting, regulatory compliance, insurance issues, litigation, and employment issues. She also works closely with more than a dozen law firms in numerous countries.
Ms Evans is also responsible for all legal aspects of the global development, protection and enforcement of ZESPRI’s intellectual property portfolio, including trademarks, designs and plant variety rights for ZESPRI® GOLD Kiwifruit and ZESPRI’s other new kiwifruit varieties nearing commercial release.
In the past year, Ms Evans has had a strong focus on legal issues associated with ZESPRI’s consideration of the potential commercial release of new kiwifruit varieties developed through its research partnership with Plant & Food Research.
ZESPRI Chief Executive Officer, Lain Jager, was thrilled to see Ms Evans recognised for the tremendous contribution she has made to ZESPRI.
“In addition to providing sound legal advice to the ZESPRI Executive Team and Board of Directors, Katherine makes a significant strategic contribution to ZESPRI’s business activities. It is fantastic to see Katherine’s impressive skill set, hard work and commitment acknowledged by her peers in the legal community,” he said.
As the winner, Ms Evans receives a scholarship package from LexisNexis to the value of $5,000 to be spent on development activities for herself and/or her team.