If you know GQ, you almost certainly know Geoff Shearer. And that's because Geoff's been around longer than most of us can remember.
However, this year marks the end of an era as Geoff steps down from his long-standing role of partner into the position of consultant, with plans to retire at the end of 2023.
As Geoff’s time at GQ begins to wind down, we want to cherish this final year ahead but also take the opportunity to reflect on the legacy past.
As head of the Inglewood team, Geoff has remained close to his roots, being born and bred in the township of Inglewood himself. He remembers fondly his time as a border at NPBHS where it comes as no surprise, he was head boy of his boarding house, involved in the 1st 11, 2nd XV, and of course an active cricket player throughout. Cue his student days at Victoria University renting in Thorndon for $7 a week and enjoying beer at the local pub for a mere 48c a jug, before heading home a qualified lawyer.
In 1978, Geoff began working alongside his father Hamish, in the practice of Deem & Shearer in Inglewood, taking on the role of partner just two years later. As the baton was handed over to Geoff and the practice began to flourish, the decision was made to merge Deem & Shearer with Govett Quilliam in 2004. The amalgamated client base and combined expertise signaled a new chapter as Geoff joined forces with GQ partners Paul Franklin, John Eagles, Ross Fanthorpe, and Paul Anderson. Over the years many new faces joined the scene, working alongside Geoff and flourishing under his mentorship, including current partners Alice Tocher and Catherine Grogan.
If you ask Geoff about the big challenges faced during his years as partner, you’ll be sure to hear his two cents worth on the ‘computer age’ and the ripple effect of constant technological updates. Being the sociable, friendly face that he is, he can’t help but remember fondly the collegial hustle and bustle of the ‘good ole days’ where letters were posted, documents hand-delivered, and Friday settlements resulted in a lively catch-up over a cup of tea, or something stronger.
Geoff has played a pivotal role in holding up the fort in Inglewood. Leading the team, remaining competitive with new entry law firms and retaining strong bonds with long-standing clients. Particularly with the organisational support of PA Julie, whose extensive client knowledge will help ensure a smooth transition as she continues on after Geoff is gone.
With a broad base of clients across both the North and South Islands, Geoff is an expert in rural law with extensive knowledge of farm conveyancing, company and trust structures for farm ownership and estate planning for farmers. His expertise extends to include commercial, trusts, estates and property too.
But at the very core of Geoff’s work and all throughout his time at GQ, it has always been first and foremost about the people - striving always to ensure clients leave his office knowing their problems and concerns are in good hands. For Geoff this trust and reassurance is the essence of being a good lawyer. That, and a bit of humour never goes amiss!
As we look to the year ahead, priorities lie in ensuring a smooth transition as the baton is handed over once more to trusty associate, Jack Hutchinson, who has been a principal part of the Inglewood office and worked alongside Geoff since 2020. Clients and staff alike can rest assured all is in safe hands and enjoy sharing a laugh, a chat, and a round of golf with Geoff as he looks forward to new chapters ahead.
“It has been a privilege and a blast to have been a partner in such a quality and supportive law firm. I can happily depart knowing that my many fine clients will be transferred to the care of the numerous expert lawyers and staff of Govett Quilliam.” - Geoff Shearer