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Vanessa Baakman

Snr Associate
Vanessa is a Senior Associate in our Litigation Team and specialises in employment law, acting for both employers and employees.

Prior to joining Saunders Robinson Brown in 2018, Vanessa worked in the litigation team of another Christchurch law firm and worked 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). 

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, 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.

Examples of Vanessa's work includes:

  • 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 Mt Pleasant School Board of Trustees
  • Volunteer for the Mothers Project (
  • Member of the New Zealand Law Society


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