Solicitor, Buddle Findlay
“The best part of working at Buddle Findlay is the people, they were incredibly welcoming from day one. Everyone is so friendly and always happy to have a chat. There is a shared goal of wanting to produce high quality work for clients, but there is also a real focus on wellbeing and social connections. There are many firmwide initiatives to help form these connections, particularly for those at a junior level.”
Where do you work now?
I work in Buddle Findlay’s Auckland office.
What kind of work have you been involved with at Buddle Findlay?
Buddle Findlay has a rotation system for its summer clerks and law clerks, allowing us to be exposed to many different areas of law. I have had the opportunity to work in the Intellectual Property, RMA, and Insolvency Finance & Asia Business (IFAB) teams. I have had a taste of both transactional and litigation work. There isn’t really a routine to my days, and seniors within all the teams I have been in have been keen to get me involved in projects at all levels. Some highlights for me include completing a discovery for a judicial review proceeding one of our clients was involved in, writing a resource consenting decision for a COVID-19 fast-track application, and drafting bespoke documents for multimillion-dollar property refinancing transactions.
What career steps have you taken to get to this point?
When I started university, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and tried to keep my options open. The thought of working in a large corporate law firm scared me, and I thought I would be better suited at smaller boutique firms. However, after talking to many people at law school, and through the recruitment process, I realised that a large law firm fit my needs and would allow me to explore many different areas of practice while I was a junior.
While at university, I did a lot of volunteering. I was involved in the Equal Justice Project, I mentored students in my later years, and in my summer breaks I would volunteer at Tairawhiti Community Law Centre. I was also a teaching assistant for some pharmacology papers and worked at AUSA as an advocate. I found this was a great way to socialise and build my interpersonal skills. Law is an incredibly collaborative industry, and the extra-curricular activities I participated in while at university taught me how to work with a diverse range of people and think on my feet. These skills served me well when I summer clerked at Buddle Findlay. I also really enjoyed supportive culture fostered at Buddle Findlay, which made me keen to come back as a graduate.
What do you enjoy about working at Buddle Findlay?
The best part of working at Buddle Findlay is the people, they were incredibly welcoming from day one. Everyone is so friendly and always happy to have a chat. There is a shared goal of wanting to produce high quality work for clients, but there is also a real focus on wellbeing and social connections. There are many firmwide initiatives to help form these connections, particularly for those at a junior level. Individual teams also have their rituals, whether it be Friday afternoon G&Ts or daily morning coffee runs.
What has been the most challenging part of working at Buddle Findlay?
The most challenging part of working at Buddle Findlay has been adjusting to the pace of work. With a few exceptions, most of the work you do in a corporate law firm is large projects spanning weeks, maybe a month or two at most, requiring enormous amounts of work. As a junior it is your job to get into the details of these projects and be familiar with everything. When I first started, I loved being able to dive into the detail, but struggled with being able to pivot from one project to another. There is no smooth transition, and sometimes it can be easy to get details of one confused with the other.
What is unique about working at Buddle Findlay?
In my opinion the most unique thing about Buddle Findlay is the level of communication between different teams and practice areas within the firm. The open plan office and focus on collaboration creates a culture of discussion, where it is very common to see people wandering over to other teams to get their insight.
Juniors are also encouraged to try out as many different practice areas as we want to. It is common for juniors to be helping on files that are not actually being run by their team, and if you express interest you are almost always able to go to team-specific trainings for teams outside your own.
What is the social life like at Buddle Findlay?
Social events are a big part of work culture at Buddle Findlay. We mostly have more low-key events, with a few formal parties chucked in the mix. We have fortnightly Friday drinks and a lot of morning teas. In fact, we have a commercial kitchen in the office which caters all the internal social events and gatherings organised. The three highlights of the year are the ball, quiz night, and Christmas party. The ball and Christmas party are organised by the social committee, but the quiz night is organised by the law clerks! While we are encouraged to go along to these events, there is no pressure or expectation to go or to stay the whole time.
Did anything surprise you while working at Buddle Findlay?
There were many work-related things that were a shock and learning curve (most notably just how difficult it is to get used to time-recording), but the one thing that really sticks in my memory is realising that everyone at work is just human. First impressions can be intimidating especially when you are surrounded by incredibly smart lawyers all the time, but I quickly learnt that most of the people I worked with held very similar interests to mine outside of work and they love to talk about it. While it seems obvious, it felt like whiplash when I experienced a team discussion about Bridgerton one minute, which turned into debating a complex legal principle the next.
What has been your favourite experience at Buddle Findlay?
I think my favourite experience at Buddle Findlay so far was being able to go to Wellington for a national team training day, where the RMA teams from all three offices congregated in Wellington to meet each other and have some training. It was interesting to see what the Wellington office was like and to meet some of my colleagues from other offices. It isn’t very common, at least at a junior level, to have opportunities to collaborate between offices, so this opportunity was unique.
What is your advice to other students who would like to work with Buddle Findlay?
Be curious and don’t sell yourself short! Often you will bring perspectives to the table that those who have been practicing for decades may not even consider. Turn your inexperience into an advantage, ask lots of questions, and don’t be afraid to challenge things you don’t understand. There have been instances when I have asked what I thought was a silly question which then brought to light an overlooked aspect of a project that needed more work. Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to people, no matter how senior they are, people will always want to talk to you and take time out of their day to help you. It is important to foster positive relationships with people in the legal world, it is a tiny industry, and you never know when you will run into someone you know over your career.
Discover Buddle Findlay
Together we grow, Ka tipu tahi tatau.
We are a New Zealand law firm who achieves 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 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. As a leading commercial and public law firm, we are proud to be known as New Zealand’s collaborative law firm.
Join our summer clerk programme to make your mark in the commercial world and help our clients to shape the future of Aotearoa. 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. You will also have the opportunity to attend our unique summer clerk academy which runs alongside the programme to gain an insight into the inner workings of a commercial law firm. At the end of the summer, you will feel ready to enter the legal world.
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. Applications for our summer clerk programme will open early in March 2023.
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, employer presentations on campus and sign up to come along to our open days in March and October 2023 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.
Location: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch
Areas of expertise: Full service law firm
Staff: 46 partners and 300+ staff across three offices
Contact: Lily Bowman, Adviser, People and Culture, email@example.com
Office of the Deputy Secretary, Pacific and Develop Group