They're a bunch of straight-shooting women; they work hard and play hard. With loyalty to their clients and to each other a top priority, the team at Blackhawk Law is a force to be reckoned with on the Franklin legal scene – in the nicest possible way. The straight-shooting bit is literal as well as metaphorical. Sole director Kim-Shiree Grant is energetic and down to earth, an avid runner and outdoors person who loves the country life and bush adventures. She's also a keen shot, and several of her staff enjoy shooting as well. But ducks, deer and goats are the only ones who need fear Kim's aim, and her hunting has helped her form a bond with many clients who enjoy the same pastime.
Kim began her legal career in Whangamata, where she caused a stir by becoming the town's first female firefighter. After five years she moved back to Pukekohe where she's been practising law since 1997, specialising in subdivision, property law, trusts, wills, estates and succession planning. She is especially interested in succession planning for farming families and providing them with clear and concise advice on how to achieve their goals using trust and company structures.
As someone who has lived in rural Franklin for 20 years, she's not only familiar with the local farming scene, she's also aware of the way rural land uses and property are changing as Auckland city spreads its tentacles further south.
“We deal with everything connected with property, from conveyancing, sale and purchase agreements, leases and mortgages to subdivisions and tenancy agreements. We specialise in subdivisions of all sizes and complexity including transferable development right agreements, easements, land covenants, boundary adjustments and acquisition by the Crown under the Public Works Act.”
Like Kim, Blackhawk's staff solicitor and Associate Belinda Williams combines hands-on previous experience of rural life with expertise in property law, property relationship matters, subdivisions, estates, wills and succession planning, and is developing her own client base. Originally from Melbourne, this self-confessed “converted Kiwi” enjoys exploring what the New Zealand outdoors has to offer, whether it be conquering the Hakiramatas or participating in half-marathons and the odd ‘Tough Guy and Gal’ challenge.
Belinda completed the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in 2018 and another adventure awaits with Oxfam 2019.
Kim and Belinda are ably supported by registered legal executive Kasey Shackleton, who started working with Kim in November 2006 on a part-time basis and for the last seven years has been Kim's full time registered legal executive. Since completing her qualification as a legal executive in 2003 Kasey has continued her studies, achieving the highest recognition for a registered legal executive within the New Zealand Institute of Legal Executives after being admitted as a Fellow in August 2017. The learning does not stop there; she must now complete regular hours of seminars and training per year just like a solicitor.
“Kasey has pushed herself to get to that level and is the only registered legal executive in this area who is a Fellow,” explains Kim. “She can provide independent legal advice for enduring powers of attorney and witness statutory declarations under the Oaths and Declarations Act.”
A former representative hockey player, Kasey actively supports local sports and enjoys a spot of target shooting.
As a long-time local resident Kasey has built up very robust relationships with clients, banks, land agents and accountants. She has a very strong interest in property law (especially first-time buyers using KiwiSaver and Housing New Zealand grants), subdivisions, elder law and estates.
'Elder law', in case you're wondering, is concerned with the legal details we all need to consider as we age – wills, powers of attorney, making arrangements for property as our needs change. The Blackhawk team can also assist in setting in place appropriate steps regarding guardianship, gifts and legacies, funeral arrangements, liabilities or debts to give clients peace of mind that their wishes will be followed.
“I enjoy being involved in our clients' circle of life, helping them through their various transitions,” says Kim. “It's a privilege to get to know families and to help them in good times and bad.”
“We have some wonderful clients with whom we've been able to build up personal relationships. One of the reasons we've chosen not to grow the business too big is so that we can continue to offer that personal touch.”
Contact with people is one of Kim's favourite aspects of her job, and it's also one of the reasons she runs. Not for her the loneliness of the long distance runner; Kim's love of marathons is based on the shared experience rather than an urge to outstrip others. Kim has run numerous half-marathons and took part in the 2017 Auckland marathon “so that I could get to run over the harbour bridge.”
“I'm just a plodder,” she claims. “I'm never going to win a race. It's all about the people you meet. And it's a release for me, like the hunting. Getting away into the backblocks and bagging some venison or exploring the bush with my husband, Harley Grant, and our three children is my way of balancing a career with family.”
“It's the same for all of us at Blackhawk Law. We all have busy, interesting lives outside work which helps to bond us together as colleagues.”
“I'm extraordinarily lucky to have kept the same core staff for 20 years. Having such wonderful, loyal people to work with makes business a pleasure. We all enjoy living in the Counties area and consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to offer our services to local people.”