The People’s Advocate - Guneesh Jubal

Date: 04 Apr 2024

Dilworth Old Boy & Staples Education Foundation Scholar

“I aim to be a part of mahi that has a tangible impact on the lives of individuals and contribute to a positive change within the legal system”

Guneesh Jubal, Dilworth Old Boy and Staples Class of 2019 has just begun his career as a criminal defence lawyer after being admitted to the Auckland High Court in February this year.

Dilworth Alumni on Graduation Day standing beneath the Auckland High Court sign

He said it took him some time to figure out which area of the law was for him after stints in big law firms, work experience throughout his degree, and finally some time spent travelling. Guneesh - who was also awarded a PwC and Auckland University Scholarship during his time at Auckland University - could have excelled in any area of the law but hadn’t found the one to pique his interest. That all changed after he had finished his degree and spent time working as a youth justice worker and carer. From here he developed a keen interest in the justice side of the law and realised his passion was to work with people and try to make a difference in their lives.

 “I aim to be a part of mahi that has a tangible impact on the lives of individuals and contribute to a positive change within the legal system. Having worked closely with young individuals in challenging circumstances, I have honed my ability to empathise with diverse perspectives. This instilled in me a deep sense of compassion and understanding that I will carry with me as I navigate this next, exciting chapter of my life.”

Dilworth Beginnings

Starting at Dilworth in Year 7 in 2012, Guneesh said he didn’t want to go to Dilworth to start with “The first weeks were rough and as I had to leave my friends at my old school and come on my own”. But he stuck it out and soon never looked back. The turning point he will always remember was winning his first award in Year 7 prize-giving.

“I went along and was sitting there trying not to fall asleep and then my name was called. I didn’t know about it and had never won anything before that point.”

Guneesh said that this award ignited his self-belief and confidence and gave him a different lens on his future. He said it dawned on him then that “Maybe I have potential, maybe I can be something more than I initially thought I could”.

By Year 13 Guneesh was excelling in his grades and went on to win a Staples Education Foundation scholarship and enrolled to do Law at Auckland University. Later, while at University, he also worked at Dilworth as a Boarding House Assistant, a role he says he loved and started him down the path of understanding young people.

Moving On to University 

Once at the University, Guneesh said the SEF scholarship was invaluable for many reasons. It gave him work experience at top Law firms within Auckland, a mentor and financial assistance, “It not only helped me through my legal journey but to also navigate life when I moved on from Dilworth”.

The SEF scholarship comprises several key components. Recipients, like Guneesh, are provided with work experience opportunities, a mentor in their field of choice, financial assistance, and a buddy to help them through their first year of University.

Guneesh said, “Initially I got to meet people (through SEF) who started University at the same time as me. But, in contrast, I was just in a more advantageous position, having had a buddy helping me through my first year.”

Guneesh can’t speak highly enough of his SEF mentor, Tim Bunker who he said has been a pivotal support “ Tim and I were introduced to each other towards the end of my final year at Dilworth. Tim is an esteemed Partner at Anthony Harper”. He said, “We are still in touch to this day and I recently had the privilege of having him as my Moving Counsel when I was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court, I have SEF to thank for that”.

Work experience was another incredibly valuable aspect of the SEF Scholarship to Guneesh who also made the most of every aspect. He said that in the legal field, the landscape is incredibly competitive with the “cream of the crop all competing for the small allotment of spaces available at internships within the top firms”. He said he couldn’t thank Jane Haines at SEF enough for placing him in reputable firms that would shape the pathway of my legal career.

“ I met some decent people and some not-so-decent people. I had some incredibly eye-opening experiences and some more mundane times. Such is the nature of the role, though, having that experience under my belt so early, allowed me to streamline my interests. And a few years on, I am still reaping the value from that aspect of SEF”.

Guneesh is a goal-setter and go-getter and gives the sense that he gives everything a try and gives it 100%. He said his take on goal setting started with the fortnightly check-ins with the SEF’s General Managers, Liz Wright, and Karen Bennett.

“You could see how you were going with the goals that you set at the beginning of the semester and could make the necessary adjustments to ensure you were still tracking along”.

He said he was able to complete his 4 years of Law School, without incurring any debt which he says was a personal goal. Guneesh commented:

“It is an indescribable feeling of being able to take the next steps in my life without having that weight on my shoulders. SEF played a significant role in helping me achieve that”.

Paying it forward 

Guneesh’s final word for any student who is awarded an SEF Scholarship is to pay it forward.

“Time and time again at University, I came across students who did not have anywhere close to the support that I had as a SEF Scholarship recipient. The wisdom and nuggets of knowledge that I came across - whether that was from my buddy, my mentor, or from what I picked up in my work experience - I would pay it forward by helping others. I think that it is only fitting. The SEF Scholarship ultimately places you in a position of privilege”.

Finally, Guneesh said that the support given to him by Haydn Staples, the SEF Board, Jane Haines, Karen Bennett, Enoch Sun and Tim Bunker

“Has empowered and shaped me into the person I am today. As I embark on my journey as a Lawyer, I am eternally grateful for their guidance and hope I can continue to make them proud”.