Deeanah Winders - Senior Associate

Deeanah Winders - Senior Associate

I’m delighted to have been promoted to Senior Associate. It’s an honour to be recognised by Cooney Lees Morgan for the skills and experiences I bring to the firm.

My pathway to law wasn’t deliberate but it feels like it was always meant to be. My parents immigrated to Australia and were self-employed market gardeners. Because they didn’t complete high school, they encouraged my siblings and I to work hard and do our best. It’s a bit of a family joke that we cover the typical career bases migrant parents want for their children: doctor (…of geology), school teacher, chartered accountant, and then me.

I fell into law as I was unsure what to do after leaving high school. Many opportunities have opened up for me and I feel fortunate my career has evolved the way it has. For example, I love that many of my clients at Cooneys have a farming background as it connects me to my origins and to them. I am a people person and enjoy working with and helping people, which I am able to do working in Cooney’s private client team, and in particular through the work I do with estates, trusts and elder law.

I moved to New Zealand immediately after graduating from Australian National University in Canberra, and following a long distance relationship with my now husband of nearly 20 years. I initially worked at Martelli McKegg in their estates and trust department which gave me an excellent foundation for my career.

I worked at Public Trust for one year in between having my two children which I found extremely interesting. After that time we spent two years in Rotorua while we raised our young family before heading back to Auckland. Funnily enough, we would visit Tauranga while we were living in Rotorua and I often thought how lovely it would be to live there. Before we got the opportunity to do that, I worked for an international financial services company that provided New Zealand foreign trusts and limited partnerships to high and ultra-high net-worth clients from all over the world. This was an exciting time of my career as not only was the work interesting but I was given the opportunity to travel to many different countries and experience different cultures, which I found fascinating and insightful. 

We eventually decided to move to Tauranga to raise our children and get a better work life balance. Our daughter had the opportunity to own her own pony and ride with the Greerton and Ngongotaha pony clubs, and our son spent many hours riding mountain bike tracks in the Bay of Plenty area. After a few years with Harris Tate I began working at Cooney Lees Morgan as an Associate in December 2019. It was a difficult decision but Cooney’s reputation and the possibility of working with their large and varied client base is what drew me to them initially.

I’m particularly proud of the work our “trust project team” have done to enhance our firm’s trust administration offerings so that we can bring our clients and their trusts up-to-date with the Trusts Act 2019.

We provide sound and detailed advice for an area of law that has been largely neglected until the new law came into play. It is my experience that most New Zealanders who are involved with trusts have little understanding of their obligations and duties as trustees, and rights and interests as beneficiaries. I feel proud when clients express their appreciation for the work we do to help them understand their role in a trust, and update their trust and succession planning affairs. At the end of what can be a long, and at times challenging process, many of our clients often express their relief that their affairs are tidy, which for us is rewarding. There is a reason why so many people put off dealing with their personal affairs, but we work at making it as straightforward as possible.

I have noticed that as the city of Tauranga is growing and evolving, so too is our firm. I would say it is dynamic and although it is a relatively large firm, there is a close and friendly vibe which strongly supports its value of whanau. I feel lucky to work with such a wonderful group of clients and colleagues. The partners and consultants are some of the best I have had the good fortune to work with.

Tauranga has given us a wonderful life and environment in which to raise our children. However, as they moved to Auckland for school a couple of years ago, we moved just prior to Christmas last year to be closer to them. I am extremely fortunate to have Cooney’s support, and particularly that of the people I work closest with, to allow me to work from home. I return to our Tauranga office for one week each month to meet with clients and keep in touch with colleagues. I get the best of both worlds and see Covid’s silver lining (there has to be something from that right?) is that it’s shown us how we can work smarter from anywhere in the country or world!

My continued ambition is to keep growing, learning and provide quality service to our clients.

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