Tal Whiteside

Solicitor, Simpson Grierson

“I learnt a massive amount in my grad year despite the lockdowns and working from home for months, which I think is largely due to people taking an interest in your career and utilising you as an important resource for the firm.” 

What career steps have you taken to get to this point? 

I started first year law in 2014 alongside a BA at Auckland University. In in my third year I applied for a couple of summer/winter clerking roles, but wasn’t able to secure a job. I think getting on to it early and applying for jobs in 3rd year gave me some good experience and set me up well for applying in 4th year. Even though it can be daunting, I’d highly recommend getting some interview experience as soon as possible. After realising that it would take a lot of preparation (and a lot of applications), I decided to see the careers advisor at law school, who helped me update my CV and even gave me some good interview practice. In my 4th year, I applied to a range of firms and did a number of interviews which was a pretty stressful experience, but after a while you become more comfortable and interviews can even be an enjoyable experience. I was offered a job as a summer clerk at SG and had an amazing experience.

Following my clerkship, I stayed on as an administrative assistant at SG while finishing my honours dissertation. This worked out great as I worked in a number of teams around the firm, met lots of people and got a feel for how the firm operated. Once I completed my dissertation, I went on an OE around the world and came back 3 days before starting as a grad in February 2020 (a month before we went into lockdown). I was really lucky with my timing and was stoked to have a job to come back to. I completed my grad year in 2020, and am now working as a solicitor in the Commercial/Corporate department at the firm.

What kind of work have you been involved with at Simpson Grierson?   

I have worked in a number of areas at the firm as both a summer clerk and a grad, includingIntellectual Property, Commercial Litigation and Corporate/Commercial. All of these teams do very different work – for instance, working in the litigation team involved a lot of research which I found to be rewarding (and challenging), while the commercial side of things requires good problem solving skills and taking a practical approach to corporate governance issues. I have enjoyed every team I have been involved in and think the experience was really valuablenow that I am staying in the commercial team I find it is really good to have knowledge of how other teams operate and what type of work they do for the firm.

What do you enjoy about working at Simpson Grierson?    

A key thing I enjoy about Simpson Grierson (even though it’s corny) is the people. I clerked with a great group, and having people around that you can have lunch with, and hang out with outside of work is really rewarding. Additionally, the seniors at the firm are genuinely supportive and take an interest in your development, which I think is crucial. I learnt a massive amount in my grad year despite the lockdowns and working from home for months, which I think is largely due to people taking an interest in your career and utilising you as an important resource for the firm. I also really enjoy being able to see the rate at which you develop– tasks that were once hard become easy and you can become a bit of an expert in your field.

What is unique about working at Simpson Grierson? 

From my personal experience I have found that there is really a culture of support at SG. I always have someone I can turn to for help, and there is a good work/life balance which is very important to me. Everyone realises that you have a life outside of work, and that sometimes the outside life can take precedence.

What is your advice to other students who would like to work with Simpson Grierson? 

As you can see from my extended time with the firm, I think SG is a great place to work and I’d really recommend applying. If you have an interview, try to ask questions to get a feel for the place. Take all the opportunities to meet people, and attend the functions, and you should be able to determine whether this place would be a good fit for you. Don’t take yourself too seriously, but obviously be prepared to put in the work, and you’ll fit right in.

We encourage you to bring your whole-self to work as we believe that diversity enhances our business. We were the very first business in New Zealand to be awarded the Rainbow Tick, and in 2017 we won the White Camellia Award for gender equality. 

About the firm

At Simpson Grierson we pride ourselves on being a team of specialists and innovators, who work with New Zealand’s leading companies and government organisations.We deliver focused, high quality legal advice in every area of commercial law. The firm also has a strong international reputation. We are New Zealand’s only member of Lex Mundi, the world’s leading association of independent law firms. Simpson Grierson places emphasis on helping others, and has a strong corporate social responsibility programme. Through our dedicated pro bono practice we help disadvantaged and low-income members of the community gain access to legal services.

    Working at the firm

    Simpson Grierson acts for some of New Zealand’s largest organisations, both in the private and public sector, as well as international clients doing business in New Zealand. To deliver great client service you need to have the best support and opportunities to succeed and grow.That’s something we strive to give to all our people.

    That includes everything from comprehensive wellness and support policies to ‘dressing for your day’, community support activities, flexible working, and our exceptional professional development programme. As well as the technical legal training, our summer clerk and graduate programmes also involves a ton of training in technology, personal brand, business writing, file management, and other useful skills you need to be successful in your career.

    We encourage you to bring your whole-self to work as we believe that diversity enhances our business. We were the very first business in New Zealand to be awarded the Rainbow Tick, and in 2017 we won the White Camellia Award for gender equality. For us, diversity is not just about differences you can see, but all the things that make us individuals – such as social backgrounds, values, religion, thinking styles, life experiences, family backgrounds and talents. That’s what makes people interesting.

    It doesn’t matter to us what school you went to or who your parents are. To us, there’s no right or wrong side of town. Your sexual orientation doesn’t matter. And if you’re a mature worker, we’ll welcome you the same as we would our younger starters.

    Opportunities for Students

    Applications for Simpson Grierson’s summer clerkship and graduate programs open on the 11th of March and close on the 29th of March. The interviews are scheduled during April and May. For more information visit http://www.simpsongrierson.com/graduates 

    Location: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch
    Areas of Expertise: Full-service law firm with four legal departments: Banking & Finance, Commercial, Litigation, and Resources & Infrastructure
    Staff: 330+
    Contact: Lily Lyons (Recruitment Consultant) lily.lyons@simpsongrierson.co.nz

    Law Clerk

    Yvonne Rothwell