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A specialist in commercial, agribusiness, and life planning law, Aspiring Law Director Janice Hughes has also been the legal brains behind some of the largest property transactions in southern New Zealand.
She provides her diverse client base with personalised, high-end legal support, ranging from residential and commercial property transactions to life planning, including wills and trusts, right through to navigating complex joint venture structures.
Janice comments, “I’m dealing with people’s futures, their life savings and their life projects. It’s really important to them, therefore it’s really important to me.”
“I get just as much of a buzz helping someone buy their first home as I do putting the finishing touches on a complicated multi-million dollar venture.”
Raised in rural Tapanui, Janice began her legal career with Invercargill-based firm AWS Legal after graduating from Otago University in 1994. She rapidly scaled the ranks making Partner in 2001, and served several years on the firm’s board, including a stint as Chair. Janice’s expertise and drive were called upon in 2004 to launch the firm’s Wanaka office, which quickly became recognised as one of the region’s premier practices.
In 2011, Janice and fellow Partner Mike Toepfer branched out in their own right, establishing Aspiring Law.
“Mike and I saw so much potential, not just for Aspiring Law but also for our community. A key tenet of our firm’s ethos is to find meaningful, innovative ways to chip in and do our bit for Upper Clutha’s growth and vitality,” Janice says. “We’re big on social responsibility and how we can help make a difference.”
Together with her professional practice—which sees her working closely with people from all walks of life, including families, business people, and farmers—Janice is particularly passionate about educating the wider public on important legal issues. She’s regularly called on by community and business organisations to speak on wide-ranging legal topics, and provides further guidance and interesting legal tips through the likes of free education seminars and her long-running newspaper column, “Hard Case”.
In recent years, concerned at the toll the recession was taking, Janice spearheaded the development of a free programme to give business people a much-needed boost. Designed to provide cash-strapped businesses with a cost-free forum to both check out their business’s well-being and soundboard ideas, the initiative was an instant hit and has since been implemented by legal firms nationwide.
For the cost of a small donation to charity, Janice brought international award-winning business author and business growth expert Ken Wright to Wanaka to hold a series of group and individual sessions with Upper Clutha businesses and community groups.
For recreation, Janice and husband Clayton Hope pursue their love of the outdoors, mountain-biking, skiing, and generally making the most of “living in nature’s playground”. She also dedicates time to another great passion—community work.
Among Janice’s many voluntary roles, she is a trustee of both the Willowridge WanakaFest Trust and the Graham and Olive West Trust; is a member of and contributor to the Wanaka and Cromwell branch of the Chamber of Commerce; and is a Past President of Wanaka Rotary. Her professional knowledge and strong community involvement also see her sit on committees such as the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s Representation Review Committee.