Vipasha Mehta

Serafina Milbank

Law Clerk, MinterEllisonRuddWatts
“MERW stood out to me because of how down to earth everybody seemed. From my first day I knew I had made the right decision.  I have made so many wonderful friends and feel comfortable being myself.”

What kind of work have you been involved with at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

Having summer clerked in both the firm’s Litigation and Employment teams, I knew that I wanted to work in a team with a strong disputes focus. I have recently returned to the firm’s Employment team and have been involved in a range of work spanning the employment lifecycle, from more advisory work at one end, to employment disputes at the other. One of the great parts of being an intern is that you get given a wide range of tasks, so no day is ever the same. I have been able to draft confidential settlement agreements, allegations letters and policies, assist with investigations, help prepare client seminars, as well as undertake lots of research.

What do you enjoy about working at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

From the get-go I felt valued for what I could offer and have been able to contribute to high quality work, including during my initial time as a summer clerk. It is a great place to develop your skills as a lawyer as everybody is committed to and good at what they do, and are always willing to help you. Whenever I have felt unsure about something or have needed a second opinion, I have always felt comfortable asking somebody.

What has been the most challenging part of working at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

The practice of law is incredibly different to what I had grown accustomed to over the last five years of university. I remember thinking that the stakes felt a lot higher, and that it was so much easier to sit an exam or hand in a paper at university than it was to present a legal opinion to a team member (particularly when the answer is that there is no answer) or draft a piece of work for a client. University has a strong and consistent structure, whereas practice is much more dynamic and flexible. However, I think it is important to remember that everybody feels a similar way at the start, and the more work you do and experience you gain, the more confident you become.

What is unique about working at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

Easily, the people. I initially found commercial law firms really intimidating and felt very out of my depth when it came to applying for clerkships while at law school. However, MERW stood out to me because of how down to earth everybody seemed. From my first day I knew I had made the right decision. I have made so many wonderful friends and feel comfortable being myself. MERW is a top tier firm and while the work is incredibly rewarding, it can also be very challenging and complex. Being able to develop my skills as a graduate and really challenge myself, while also feeling supported by those around me, was incredibly important to me.

What is the social life like at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

The firm provides a lot of opportunities to get to know everybody. To name a few, we have weekly lunches, a mid-year ball, the end of year Christmas party, as well as admission celebrations. The social club runs quite a few of these events and there is always something happening. Teams also often organise get-togethers to catch up or celebrate any hard-earned successes.

Did anything surprise you while working at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

How down to earth everybody is. We get involved in some of New Zealand’s most high-profile deals, projects and cases, and the people working here are incredibly intelligent and committed to what they do. However, they are also generous with their time, and they make an effort to get to know you and invest in your learning. It feels good to be able to come into work and be happy to see the people you work with, and it makes learning from them so much easier as well.

What has been your favourite experience at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

One of my favourite experiences was having the opportunity to go on a one-week secondment during my summer clerkship. This involved working onsite with a particular client. My experience involved having to learn a completely new area of law. It was a huge challenge but one that was very rewarding as I was able to learn a lot in a short amount of time, as well as meet lots of new people, including those in the legal field. For me it highlighted that the firm really places a lot of trust and confidence in its juniors and provides many opportunities to grow as a lawyer.

It was also wonderful to be given the chance to be a part of our ‘Homework Help Club’. This is one of the many community initiatives that our firm is involved in. Through Homework Help Club, I was able to take time off work to attend some after school sessions at a low decile primary school. This is particularly special to me as a lot of the children tend to be Pasifika. Being Pasifika myself, I never knew of any lawyers growing up and working within the legal system felt at times completely out of reach. While it is rewarding to be able to help with homework, I think by simply being there as a friendly and approachable face from the legal profession, this can hopefully form part of a positive experience.

What is your advice to other students who would like to work at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

I know it can be hard to answer the age old ‘why do you want to be a commercial lawyer’ question, when you’ve never stepped foot inside a firm before. Firstly, do your research about the firm to get an understanding of our culture as well as what work we are involved in. A good way to do this is also by attending events that may be held at your university. When it comes to the application process, tailor your cover letter and CV to show that you have done this. Interviews can feel overwhelming, especially as they will occur around the same time as other firms. However, try to just relax and be yourself. It is important to know your value and what you can offer, as well as speak to your experiences and the things you have an interest in and care about!


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. 

About our firm

We are an independent, top tier New Zealand law firm with excellent connections in Australia, and around the world. We have offices in Auckland and Wellington, with 47 Partners and more than 200 legal staff. We are proud of our rich history, and our position as a trusted adviser to Kiwi and global businesses for more than 140 years.

As the business world rapidly evolves, everything we do is underpinned by a constant focus on continuous improvement and delivering innovative solutions. We are seen by the market as being progressive and forward thinking, with a constant eye on the horizon to help our clients really get the best results for their business.

As one of New Zealand’s leading law firms, we think beyond the law, applying commercial knowledge and innovative thinking to some of New Zealand’s most high-profile transactions, projects and disputes. With a deep understanding of our clients, we tackle problems from all angles, meaning we always find the best solutions.

Highlights from 2022 for the firm include:

  • Named as the Employer of Choice at the New Zealand Law Awards 2021.
  • Voted by clients as ‘Best Provider to Financial and Insurance Services’ in Australasia in this year’s prestigious Beaton Client Choice Awards 2022.
  • Named New Zealand Deal Firm of the Year at the 2022 Australasian Law Awards.
  • Partner Stacey Shortall named as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to the law and the community in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday honours list.
  • Our leadership of greater gender diversity and gender initiatives in the legal profession was recognised at the Euromoney Legal Media Group Asia Women in Business Law Awards 2021, with the firm taking out the award for New Zealand Firm of the Year, along with National Firm of the Year for Gender Diversity and Talent Management.
  • The first law firm to publish our gender and ethnic pay gaps in a public register as part of

Working at our firm

At MinterEllisonRuddWatts we are proud to attract and develop exceptional talent. We are passionate about what we do and are always seeking to find better ways to do things. We believe that we have a fantastic bunch of people at our firm. We all share a mindset of working together, driving innovation, and thinking collaboratively, while understanding our clients’ needs and providing them with technical and commercial solutions that meet those needs.

Our unique culture creates greater collaboration across our firm and ensures we seamlessly service clients with our commercial solutions-based approach. This approach also encourages a broad career path for our people, with more opportunities to work across multiple practice areas, meaning our lawyers develop a breadth of skills that future proof their careers.
We work with a full range of clients – predominantly large corporates, banks, government entities and substantial privately-owned businesses – on some of New Zealand’s most complex and technically challenging deals and transactions. We also lead on numerous trans-Tasman transactions through our affiliation with the MinterEllison Legal Group.

Right now, there is a powerful opportunity to propel a historic culture shift towards greater sustainability in support of people, business and the planet. We are embracing this opportunity at MinterEllisonRuddWatts. To create the sustainable future we want to see, we commit to three pillars built upon te taiao (environment), ngā tāngata (people) and ngā tikanga (practices). The three pillars see us playing our part in a low emission, circular economy; contributing to social empowerment; and using our position as strategic advisers to positively shape Aotearoa New Zealand’s future.

Underpinning everything we do is our value of waka eke noa – respect individuality, work as one. Maintaining a safe, supportive, and inclusive workplace is an ongoing priority for our firm. We are confident of our strengths, but like all businesses, we acknowledge that we are on a journey. Developing and nurturing a culture built on values of openness, honesty, equality, respect, acceptance, flexibility, wellbeing as well as health and safety, has seen us build towards our vision of being the firm of choice for exceptional people – a firm where all employees can thrive and give their best with confidence.

Opportunities for Students

Make an impact. Help shape New Zealand’s future.

As an intern, summer clerk or graduate, you will be given real opportunities – opportunities to grow, learn and succeed while working with some of the most experienced lawyers in New Zealand. You will receive the training and support needed to reach your goals.
You will experience first-hand the type of work you could do as a lawyer with us. We aim to empower you to kick start your career, while being challenged, yet supported, and providing you with an environment of constant learning.

At MinterEllisonRuddWatts we are not looking for people to fit a particular mould. Academic results are just one piece of the puzzle, and we recognise the strength that diversity brings to a team. Work experience, life experience, extra-curricular activities, sporting participation, music and the arts, and travel are all important criteria to us. We want you to bring your whole self to work – individual strengths and diversity is what builds our teams to be so successful.

Law students can apply for our summer clerk programme in March of their penultimate year of study. Our summer clerk programme gives law students from all over New Zealand the chance to spend their summer break from university learning what life is like inside a top tier corporate law firm. Not only does this give you the chance to experience what it feels like to be a practising lawyer and do real work for clients, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn about our clients, our business, and our unique culture. You will also meet other law students from around the country, expand your networks and make some great new friends along the way. We typically employ about 20 to 25 summer clerks each year.

We also employ new graduates, however the summer clerk programme is our main source of graduate recruits. Graduate level candidates are encouraged to apply during the summer clerk recruitment round in March each year.

Auckland-based law students can get ahead of the pack through our intern programme, which provides third-year law students the opportunity to gain practical, paid legal work experience in our Auckland office during the academic year (March – September).
Find out more about our work opportunities at

Location: Auckland, Wellington
Areas of Expertise: Full-service law firm with particular expertise in Banking and Financial Services, Corporate, Real Estate, Construction, Litigation and Insolvency.
Staff: 47 partners, and 300 total staff
Contact: Vanessa Syme (HR Manager) PO Box 105 249, Auckland City 1143. PwC Tower, 15 Customs St West, Auckland 1010

Litigation and legal work

Bradley Arona-Waqanivavalagi