Judith Medlicott Awarded a Life Membership – 25 February 2014


Judith Medlicott was recently awarded a life membership to OWLS at the 2014 AGM held at Ombrellos on 25 February 2014. Judith was one of the founding members of OWLS and has been a member ever since its inception.

Judith came to the law slightly later in life after an MA degree, marrying and 3 young children. She studied law from 1972 and was admitted in 1975. Since then she has had what can only be called an impressive career with some of the highlights talked about in her AGM speech.

Judith’s legal career started at Cook Allan & Co in 1975 and within 5 years she was made a partner. Judith was, I believe, one of the first women in Otago to reach this milestone. In 1986 she went out on her own and around this time she, along with other women practitioners, founded OWLS. She spoke about the backdrop in which OWLS was formed, in her AGM speech and it was plain to see that she was a strong woman advocate. The formation of The Dunedin Collective for Women was also a significant part of her life in the early 1970s. The Collective worked on many different things including abortion law reform, maternity leave, child care options and equal pay for women in employment in the 1970’s onwards.

After setting up practice on her own, Judith won the 1988 New Zealand Mastermind television contest. Judith believes this was the catalyst or springboard for her to go onto many more achievements particularly in her University career. Judith has played a significant role with the University of Otago and served 13 years on the University Council, 6 of those as Chancellor. She dealt with many publicised incidents in this role including the student occupation in the 1990’s.

In 1998 Judith was recognised with the Companion of New Zealand Order of Merit and a Doctorate of Law (Honoris Causa). She later (in 2004) went on to deliver the Guest Memorial Lecture at the University of Otago. Judith has been a speaker and presenter at many events including significant involvement in many charitable debates. Judith has served her time on Boards in the community including being appointed a director of Radio New Zealand Limited, an elected member of the Otago District Health Board and Chair of its Art Advisory Committee for over 10 years. Judith was also a Member of the New Zealand Law Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal from 2002 until 2009. She continues to be an active Trustee for the Ashburn Hall Charitable Trust.

Judith is a strong supporter of the Dunedin community and has proud links to Otago Girls’ High School. It was clear from OWLS members’ comments at the AGM that Judith has been inspirational and has encouraged other women during their own careers not only as a woman lawyer, but a successful woman lawyer who also managed to balance bringing up young children and a successful career.

Judith is currently in her 39th year of practice and given her strong commitment to OWLS, it was thought most fitting that we bestow on her a life membership at our AGM. One only need to read the highlighted achievements above to acknowledge that Judith’s career has broken barriers, that she has inspired and assisted other women to achieve in their own legal careers and appreciate that she has actively served in the legal community for the past 39 years.

Judith joins our list of life members alongside Margaret Mackay, Marion Thomson, Dame Silvia Cartwright, Judge Annis Somerville, Judge Rosemary Riddell, Janet November, Donna Buckingham and Kate Walker.


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