LLM, LLB (Hons), BA, GDipBusStud (Dispute Resolution)
Sonja Cooper was admitted to the bar in December 1986.
Sonja started work in New Zealand's larger law firms, including two of New Zealand's "big 5 firms", before starting in practice on her own account in 1995. Sonja is the principal of Cooper Legal.
Throughout her years in practice, Sonja has worked in litigation. Starting her career as a family lawyer and a Youth Advocate (a lawyer working with young offenders), Sonja has undertaken a wide range of litigation work, including employment law, medico-legal work, privacy law, accident compensation work and general civil litigation. Sonja has appeared in all levels of the Courts, including the Supreme Court.
Sonja and her team are part of a small group of lawyers who act for those who have suffered abuse in care (including State care), and are developing the law in historic abuse claims. In that context, Sonja has particular expertise in tort law, the Limitation Act, equitable remedies and damages issues. Sonja and her team also utilise public law remedies, such as the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, to obtain appropriate and just outcomes for clients.
Sonja has a strong focus on human rights issues, access to justice and the resolution of disputes. In that context, Sonja was a District Inspector of Mental Health for nine years. Sonja was also a member of the New Zealand Youth Justice Committee for some years, as well as local Law Society Committees. With her interest in dispute resolution, Sonja has also acted as a mediator in employment and family disputes. Sonja continues her work with young offenders in the Youth Court.
Sonja likes to work collaboratively with other lawyers who do human rights work, in particular, and who are able to help out when Cooper Legal is unable to. In addition, Sonja has regular contact with academics, the Human Rights Commission and international bodies such as the United Nations, about issues affecting those who have been abused in care by the State.
In her spare time, Sonja likes to spend time with her family, travel overseas, read lots of books and enjoy good music. Sonja also undertakes post-graduate study in her spare time. Having recently completed her LLM, she is now working on her PhD.