New Zealand’s isolated West Coast in the South Island might not have much in common with Alabama, USA, in the 1950s, yet Westport girl Lucinda Knapp has always drawn inspiration from Rosa Parks, the famous civil rights activist who refused to give up her seat for a white passenger on a segregated bus.
“Rosa Parks embodies how important it is for people to stand up for what is just,” says Lucinda.
It was this belief in social justice and effecting change that motivated Lucinda to pursue a career in law.
“It sounds clichéd, but I really wanted to help people by advocating for them,” she says. “Working in the community legal sector and being able to assist vulnerable and disadvantaged communities is a good fit for me.”
Lucinda now works as the acting principal solicitor at the Shoalcoast Community Legal Centre in Nowra, New South Wales, Australia. The centre is a not-for-profit, community-managed free legal service established in 1999. It is part of a statewide and national network of community legal centres that aim to promote an agenda of social justice and work towards fairer legal and social outcomes for those most disadvantaged.
Lucinda is also involved in law reform working and providing legal education to local communities. She loves that her job helps to equip people to help themselves.
“It is my job to help people find a solution to their legal problems,” she says. “I am passionate about empowering people so that they can successfully advocate for themselves. I see my role as providing people with the legal knowledge, tools and confidence to resolve their current and future legal issues.”
Lucinda has worked in the legal sector for almost a decade. After what she describes as “a magical childhood” in Westport, Lucinda went on to study law at the University of Canterbury (UC). She is a fan of UC, describing the uni as having “great academic programmes”.
“It certainly provided me with a sound knowledge of the legal system and the practical application of the law,” she says.
Ultimately, it was her mindset and personality traits that made her a good fit for the legal profession.
“I am tenacious and determined so a job as a lawyer was always attractive,” she says.