About Bernard Banks
Career to date
Soon after my admission in the early 1970s I became an in-house solicitor and later the Office Solicitor for the Department of Labour. In 1985 I joined the Crown Law Office as a Crown Counsel and I became team leader of the Employment and Education Team. I moved to Kiely Thompson Caisley in 1999, initially as a partner and more recently I moved to a consultant role. I joined Gibson Sheat as a consultant in July 2016.
Currently Bernard’s practice is primarily immigration law. However much of his career has centered around specialist employment law and industrial relations advice, mediation and litigation, as well as education and public law advice and representation for a wide range of corporate and individual clients and organizations. While at the Department of Labour and the Crown Law Office, public law was a major part of Bernard’s work and he has retained a keen interest in the structure of government mechanisms, public law and law reform.
He is a co-author of Mazengarb’s Employment Law textbook and a member of the Editorial Board of the Employment Law Bulletin. He has presented at, moderated, and chaired numerous employment and immigration law conference sessions in New Zealand and in the Asia-Pacific region.
At different times between 2011 and 2015 Bernard has been a team member on several regional labour market projects including for the ILO, in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Fiji.
In recent years his practice has focused increasingly on immigration law - the employment, commercial, entrepreneur and investor aspects of immigration into New Zealand, including for corporate and business clients and executive employees.
Bernard emphasises the increasing expansion in trans-national employment and supplies of services across the Asia-Pacific region, and the many immigration implications and opportunities that flow from them.
He is enthusiastic about his role as Chair of LAWASIA’s Employment Law Committee and has co–organised specialist regional employment law conferences in Hong Kong (2010), Siem Reap, Cambodia (2013) and Hanoi, Vietnam (2015). He values his close collegial relationships with the Malaysian Bar and the Malaysian Society for Labour and Social Security Laws.
Bernard points to the importance for New Zealand of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and he enjoys his role as a member of the ExCo of the ASEAN New Zealand Business Council and as its Laos Chapter Chair.
Professional Associations and Community Organisations
My approach to working with my clients
It is a priority for me to become thoroughly familiar with the outcome the client wants to achieve, and then provide advice and work interactively with them on the best way to arrive at that outcome.
An instance when I’ve given a client a real competitive edge
A major international company needed a foreign national senior executive to continue working in its New Zealand office for several years beyond the time limit usually permitted by Immigration New Zealand. I successfully submitted to Immigration New Zealand that they should exercise their available discretion and grant a further visa, even although it was a clear exception to normal policy, because it was in the best interests of both the company and New Zealand.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given
For practicing lawyers, there is an 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not judge.(Advice from a partner in the first law firm I worked for as a solicitor).
What stimulates me
Both immigration and employment issues involve very personal, lifestyle, implications for clients, and it is rewarding to be able to achieve successful outcomes for them.
What I enjoy outside of work
I enjoy travel, vintage cars, my time with my family and with my multi-ethnic circle of friends; as well as persevering with my attempts to learn Mandarin.
If I wasn’t a lawyer I’d…
be working as an out-bound tour guide, helping Kiwis to experience the vitality and the rich cultures of East Asia.