Vanessa Baakman

Special Counsel

Dispute Resolution


Vanessa is a Special Counsel in the Dispute Resolution Team at Saunders Robinson Brown.

Vanessa specialises in employment law and advises clients on the full breadth of employment matters from the beginning of the employment relationship through to termination, including any disputes that may arise. This includes advising on employment agreements, contracts for service, staff policies, restructuring, incentive schemes, medical incapacity, post-employment restraints, the Education and Training Act, Privacy Act matters and health and safety obligations. In addition, she frequently assists clients with employment claims in the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), from mediation through to hearings in the ERA.

Vanessa's clients range from small to large businesses through to individuals and contractors. She works across a number of sectors including agriculture, construction, health, hospitality and education.  

Vanessa enjoys working with her clients to find pragmatic solutions to employment relationship problems, backed with the skills and experience to manage disputes through the Court process when necessary.

Prior to joining Saunders Robinson Brown in 2018, Vanessa worked in the litigation team of another Christchurch law firm and then overseas in the UK for Cambridgeshire County Council, as an in-house solicitor for five and a half years.

She graduated from the University of Canterbury in 2002 with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Classics).

Notable experience

  • Undertaking a workplace investigation on behalf of an employer concerning an allegation of theft by an employee.

  • Drafting a suite of employment agreements and policies for a large, national retailer.

  • Assisting a hospitality client with a labour inspector audit.

  • Bringing a personal grievance claim in the Employment Relations Authority and appearing at the hearing.

  • Advising clients on their obligations under the Privacy Act 2020 and assisting with implementing related policies.

  • Providing training to employer clients on performance management and disciplinary processes in respect of employees.

  • Negotiating settlement agreements for employment disputes and terminations, for both employers and employees.

  • Drafting employment agreement precedents and staff policies for various employer clients.

  • Drafting contracts for services for a range of businesses and independent contractors.


  • Member of the Canterbury Women's Legal Association (CWLA).

  • Member of the New Zealand Law Society.