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Expert Advice

Given the growing demands and complex nature of business, your best investment is good advice. New employment law can be a drain on your time, energy and bank balance – we're here to help. Our team of employment lawyers and consultant partners can support you on the full remit of employment law and employment relations issues.

To seek advice please book via AdviceLine at 0800 800 362

Meet the Legal Team

Paul O Neil

Paul O’Neil

Head of Legal Consultancy and General Counsel

A former commercial litigator with a strong background in commercial litigation, financial crime and counter fraud, Paul leads the EMA’s expert Legal team, which gives members advice and support with employment law and representation. Paul also heads up the Consulting team which provides solutions to Employment Relations, Human Resources and Health and Safety issues. Paul brings his wide-ranging experience from overseeing civil and criminal proceedings at the Financial Markets Authority, and as Deputy Chief Executive Operations and General Counsel at the Serious Fraud office, to advise businesses on how to deal with tricky issues - or avoid them altogether. While Paul directs the team, he is also passionate about being hands-on with businesses on the large and small issues that can reduce risk, saving them time, energy and money.

Paul's qualifications

LLB (Hons), University of Auckland)


David Browne

David Browne

Special Counsel

Dunedin-based employment law expert David is proud of the role he plays supporting businesses, especially with the ongoing employment issues as a result of the pandemic. Being named the Greenwood Roche New Zealand Private Sector In-House Lawyer of Year in 2021 was an acknowledgment of how he deals with the full gambit of Employment Relations issues to enable businesses to achieve their goals. An advocate for employers battling injustices, David previously had a career in education, publishing and the arts. He is a firm believer in the synergies between the arts and law, where creative approaches lead to strategies that result in the best outcome.   

David's qualifications

•    LLB (University of Otago)
•    New Zealand Law Society approval to practise on own account.
•    MFA (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology)


Beverley Edwards

Beverley Edwards

Senior Solicitor

A self-confessed pragmatic problem solver, Beverley works collaboratively with businesses across the spectrum of contentious and non-contentious Employment Relations issues. A specialist in investigations, she assists members with the tricky processes of disciplinaries, performance, restructuring, and incapacity processes. Underpinning these contentious procedures, she drafts employment agreements and policies across many issues such as  drug and alcohol testing, surveillance and social developments.  She frequently represents clients in dispute resolution matters, including mediations and in the Employment Relations Authority and the Employment Court. An admitted solicitor in New Zealand and South Africa, in her previous life Beverley has prosecuted on behalf of the South African State and worked as Legal Counsel for a multi-national music conglomerate. She has been a law lecturer the past decade and is an ardent community law supporter.

Beverley's qualifications

•    LLB (University of the Witwatersrand)
•    Accredited Mediator with Resolution Institute
•    Private Security Personnel License with Min of Justice
•    Employment Law Institute of NZ (ELINZ) Board member


Ronda Tokona

Ronda Tokona

Senior Solicitor

Ronda brings a wealth of business and life experience, and a pragmatic and personal approach to handling all employment relations matters and finding constructive solutions to member businesses problems. She has represented employers and employees in a law firm, as a consultant, and for a union, the Association of University Staff at Otago University. Ronda was a Visiting Justice working for the Otago Corrections Facility for more than 10 years, and during her MBA acquired her own business - a franchise servicing small to medium sized businesses with their financial needs. 
Ronda is very well connected and has also spent significant time supporting the community through governance roles at both a local and national level, including the National Council for the Employment of Women, the Legal Aid Review Panel, the National Kaitiaki Group, and Te Kupeka Umaka Maori ki Araiteuru/KUMA (Southern Maori Business Network).

Rhonda's qualifications

•    BA (University of Victoria)
•    Certificate in Criminology (University of Victoria)
•    LLB (University of Otago)
•    MBA (University of Otago)
•    Post Grad Dip (Education, University of Auckland).


Ruthi Bommoju

Ruthi Bommoju

Senior Solicitor

Ruthi was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 2016, and holds a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Social Sciences degree (majoring in Political science and minoring in Sociology). Having been with the Legal Team for close to seven years, Ruthi has distinct and far-reaching insights into the employment challenges of member businesses.  Ruthi helps them on all aspects of employment law, including restructures, managing personal grievances, Holidays Act compliance, disciplinary issues, to negotiated exits, medical incapacity, fair pay agreements, performance management and mediations. Ruthi’s involvement extends beyond her role within the Legal Team. She is an integral part of the team responsible for presenting at EMA member briefings and regularly shares her insights on EMA webinars. Her employment law knowledge and commercial acumen assists in achieving sound and pragmatic resolutions for members. 

Ruthi's qualifications
  • Bachelor of Laws (University of Waikato)
  • Bachelor of Social Sciences (University of Waikato)


Samantha Butcher 200x200

Samantha Butcher


After graduating with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Business Majoring in Management Sam was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 2017. She is passionate about helping people and takes time to consider what the best outcome may be for a business with their desired outcomes in mind. She understands business struggles and is able to provide support regarding evolving economic considerations and legal applications.  With an eye for detail, Sam helps businesses by providing clear, accurate and pragmatic legal advice to support everything from reviewing employment agreements and policies, to strategising and assisting with performance and disciplinary processes, medical incapacity processes, restructuring and redundancy, bullying and sexual harassment claims, legislative compliance, personal grievances, and settlement agreements.

Samantha's qualifications
  • Bachelor of Laws
  • Bachelor of Business
  • Institute of Professional Legal Studies. 


Man on phone

General Contact

0800 778 776
0800 300 362