August Wairau

Summer Clerk, Webb Henderson

I feel very privileged to have had the trust of my colleagues to draft key legal documents and communicate directly with both our clients and another law firm.   

What kind of work have you been involved with at Webb Henderson?  

In my time at Webb Henderson, I have been exposed to a wide range of work. I have had the opportunity to work across different areas of corporate law including M&A transactions and banking and finance aspects of those transactions. I have worked closely with a number of solicitors and partners which has meant that I have been able to experience a variety of personal styles of practice. The most notable piece of work that I have been involved with at Webb Henderson was a multi-million-dollar M&A transaction which I helped see through to completion. I feel very privileged to have had the trust of my colleagues to draft key legal documents and communicate directly with both our clients and another law firm.  

What do you enjoy about working at Webb Henderson?     

The people and culture! As a newbie, I wasn’t sure how well I would be able to gel with the team over a short period of time. However, the team at Webb Henderson has gone above and beyond to make me feel welcome not only as a valued team member but also as a friend. There have been countless opportunities to mix and mingle in an informal and relaxed way.  I have really appreciated the small things like everyone making an effort to catch me up on the banter in the office so I never feel left out!  

Additionally, I have found that the working environment fosters learning and development which was very important to me and a key reason why Webb Henderson appealed to me in the first place. My buddy and responsible partner were eager to hear what professional goals I had for the summer and helped me work out a plan to achieve these goals. The team has organised multiple workshops for the summer clerks as learning opportunities, I receive meaningful feedback on every piece of work that I submit, and I am often given direct credit for my contributions in a transaction. Although the environment at Webb Henderson is fast paced and the team work very hard to ensure the best outcome for their clients, it is really nice to know that everyone is down to earth and always has time to support me if I need it – this is particularly helpful to me as someone who is still learning.   

It was very important to me that I found a firm that aligned with my values and that allowed me to bring my whole authentic self to work, and that is just what Webb Henderson has offered me. 

What has been the most challenging part of working at Webb Henderson?     

I would have to say that COVID-19 definitely threw a spanner in the works (as they say). Due to Auckland being in lockdown for much of 2021, I began my summer clerkship in my bedroom at my flat without having met anyone from the firm in real life. Although it was not an ideal situation, the team was very supportive and made sure to make me feel welcomed. We had team calls to ensure everyone had work to complete and that no one felt they had too much to keep on top of. We also had regular social catch-ups and my buddy and responsible partner called to check in very regularly. By the time we were able to return to normal and go into the office, I already felt like a valued team member.  

What sets Webb Henderson apart from other firms?    

As a summer clerk at Webb Henderson, you can expect to get hands-on experience from your first day. Being one of two summer clerks at the firm in 2021, I have been exposed to a variety of matters and have had the opportunity to assist with complex corporate and commercial matters and contribute to large M&A transactions (for both domestic and international clients). Because all the work I am tasked with is meaningful and often has a direct consequence for our clients, I work with colleagues at all levels including partners. This is a unique opportunity and an invaluable experience.  

Did anything surprise you while working at Webb Henderson? 

The exposure I have had and the contributions that I have been able to make have really surprised me. Being a junior, I didn’t think I would be able to make as many meaningful contributions to important legal work as I have – which of course involved a lot of learning along the way. It is also very refreshing in the legal industry to have the trust of my senior colleagues to produce work to a high standard and while the work that I am tasked with often challenges me, I have never felt like I didn’t have the support behind me if and when I needed it.    

What has been your favourite experience at Webb Henderson?   

My favourite experience thus far would have to be my first client meeting. Although it was held online, it was nice to put faces to names and I found it very interesting to see how these meetings played out first-hand. Since then, I have had the opportunity to be part of numerous client meetings as well as meetings with other law firms and industry players. I am usually one of very few juniors (if not the only junior) in these meetings which has been such a surreal experience and I believe it is unique to juniors in boutique firms. Watching how the partners interact has been a great learning opportunity not to mention the networking opportunities it has presented.   

What is your advice to other students who would like to work with Webb Henderson?  

As clichéd as it sounds, remember to be yourself! While it is important to have a well-rounded CV, Webb Henderson wants to ensure that the firm finds the right fit both for you and for the team so remember to let who you are “off paper” shine through. I always think back to a quote I read that said that you miss every opportunity you don’t take, so if you are thinking about applying – do it! 

To read more about Webb Henderson, click here


Lucy Macdonald