Law Clerk, Buddle Findlay
“I really enjoy the level of team work and collaboration involved in each piece of work. I love being able to bounce off ideas with like-minded individuals and working in a dynamic workplace that values forming new and creative solutions to legal issues.“
Where do you work now?
I work at Buddle Findlay’s Wellington office as a law clerk.
What career steps have you taken to get to this point?
Throughout university I was always drawn to the idea of beginning my legal career at a large firm with an extensive practice area. I figured doing so would allow me to dabble in a range of fields and get an idea of what I enjoyed the most. With this in mind I applied to Buddle Findlay’s summer clerk programme and was lucky enough to get the role. During my time at the firm I worked in the property and employment teams. After summer clerking I continued working with the property team on a part-time basis while finishing off my law degree. This allowed me to maintain connections at the firm and more seamlessly join back as a full-time law clerk later in the year.
I would also consider the steps I took during university as “career steps” that helped form a strong grounding for me to begin my legal career. I was heavily engaged with law school clubs, primarily Victoria University’s Asian Law Students’ Association. Making space to celebrate my cultural values while at law school really helped boost my confidence and find my place in a profession that still has a long way to go when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
What kind of work have you been involved with at Buddle Findlay?
Getting to experience both the employment and property teams at the firm have meant that I’ve been exposed to a wide range of work. I’ve also had the opportunity to experience bits and pieces of resource management and litigation work. Each day of work is different. By way of example, one day of work in the property team could involve discrete research tasks, assisting in contractual negotiations, preparing for upcoming settlements and drafting a lease of a commercial building. On the other hand, one day as a junior in the employment and health team could involve attending a mediation, advising on health and safety issues and drafting legal updates on new legislation.
What do you enjoy about working at Buddle Findlay?
I really enjoy the level of team work and collaboration involved in each piece of work. I love being able to bounce off ideas with like-minded individuals and working in a dynamic workplace that values forming new and creative solutions to legal issues. As a junior it’s great to be able to learn from seniors whilst having your own perspective valued and considered an integral part of the work.
What has been the most challenging part of working at Buddle Findlay?
It’s no secret that studying law is starkly different from practising it. Law school really doesn’t prepare you for the kinds of issues you’ll have to deal with in the profession on a day to day basis. It often feels like being thrown in the deep end and it can be difficult to form a strategy to solve a legal problem without having much institutional knowledge or experience working with particular clients. It’s also really challenging having to accept that you don’t know all the answers – particularly when entering the workplace from an intensely high-achieving environment like law school.
What is unique about working at Buddle Findlay?
I would definitely say that the level of cross-team collaboration within the firm is particularly unique (having summer clerked at another corporate law firm before finding myself at Buddle Findlay). Discussing work with colleagues in other teams to find the best solution for clients is ingrained in the firm’s culture. This has allowed me to form good connections with people outside of my own team, enhanced my learning and given me greater exposure to the different practice areas within the firm.
What is the social life like at Buddle Findlay?
The firm has a really strong social life – led by the social committee who do a great job at organising a range of different events throughout the year. However, 2020 was a difficult year in this respect due to all the difficulties brought about by Covid-19. Despite this, the social committee organised a fantastic Met-Gala themed Christmas party. There are also more low-key opportunities for socialising such as regular firm-wide morning teas, junior lunches and various seminars.
Did anything surprise you while working at Buddle Findlay?
This is a difficult question to answer – I’ve been surprised by a lot of things purely because as a graduate entering the profession you know very little about how things operate in practice! If I had to pick one thing for the purposes of this piece it would probably be the sheer level of thinking on your feet that’s required. Every client is different and there’s no one size fits all solution. There’s a lot of problem solving required with every piece of work and often you have to be comfortable with a level of uncertainty in the approach you choose to take in providing advice.
What has been your favourite experience at Buddle Findlay?
Being involved in the firm’s diversity and inclusion committee has been my favourite experience by far. It’s really heart-warming to work in an organisation that prioritises improving workplace culture and reducing the barriers faced by minority groups in the legal profession. I’ve loved being able to contribute to regular discussions around how we can make the workplace an environment where people can feel comfortable being their true selves.
What is your advice to other students who would like to work with Buddle Findlay?
Ask lots of questions and talk to as many people you can about the work they do – there really is no such thing as a stupid question! Asking lots of questions and picking the brains of my supervisors has contributed the most to my learning in the workplace. Don’t be shy to reach out and start networking and forming connections early – partners really do enjoy giving up their time to discuss their work and form mentoring relationships.
“As a summer clerk, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in our many practice areas and get involved in client facing work. You will enjoy learning alongside experts in their field, working with clients from the get go and having hands-on experience with exciting and stimulating projects.“
Discover Buddle Findlay
Together we grow, Ka tipu tahi tatau.
We are a New Zealand law firm who achieve exceptional outcomes through collaboration. Join us to discover the unique energy and enthusiasm we bring to the legal market. Our collaborative culture is the foundation of who we are and it is our core strength and focus. At Buddle Findlay we empower our people to be extraordinary and in turn, our people help our clients achieve extraordinary things.
Join our summer clerk programme to make your mark in the commercial world and help our clients to shape the future of New Zealand. As a summer clerk, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in our many practice areas and get involved in client facing work. You will enjoy learning alongside experts in their field, working with clients from the get go and having hands-on experience with exciting and stimulating projects. Our programme provides you with the opportunity to get to know us, understand what we do and discover how we work, together.
Start your journey
Our summer clerk programme is designed for law students in their penultimate year looking to gain real life experience in a corporate law firm over the university break. This year we will be running two rounds of recruitment, where you can apply for our summer clerk programme. This means we get to know you at a time that best suits you, not just us. Applications for our first round of recruitment will open on 1 March 2021 and applications for our second round of recruitment will open on 1 July 2021.
As part of the recruitment process we will provide you with a range of opportunities to connect and get to know us, while taking the time to get to know you, to ensure we are a great fit for one another. Come and say hello to us at the career expos and employer presentations on campus and sign up to come along to our open days in March and May 2021 to get a feel for if we are the right fit for you and to take a look around our offices.
When you are ready to apply for our summer clerk programme you will be asked to complete a quiz to provide an opportunity for us to get to know how you think, feel and operate. We believe grades don’t.
Location: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch
Areas of expertise: Full service law firm
Staff: 45 partners and 225+ staff across three offices
Contact: Olivia Moore, Adviser, People and Culture, email@example.com