Name: Megan Richards
Job title: Partner and board member (leading the Wellington Employment Law team)
Employer, city/country: MinterEllisonRuddWatts, Wellington
Length of time in current role: 12 years as a Partner, over 16 years with the firm
Where and when you studied law: Victoria University (Wellington)
Describe a typical day in your job?
On a Monday:
First up, a team meeting with the Litigation team to discuss and allocate work that week. Then a delicious morning tea made by our wonderful Chef in Wellington, Liz Baker and her team – for all staff. I might then check a restructure proposal drafted by one of my team and call the client to discuss it. If I’m lucky I’ll fit in an RPM class at Les Mills, have lunch, then reply to the 30+ emails that will have arrived while I’m at the gym! The rest of the attention will usually involve checking and sending advice to clients and maybe another client meeting or two.
How did you get into this job?
When I worked in London for 4 years at Simmons & Simmons a good friend of mine (Kathryn Snook) worked there too and she suggested I should apply to her old firm – then Rudd Watts & Stone, now MinterEllisonRuddWatts. So I did. I was interviewed by the (now) Justice Susan Thomas and offered a job as a senior solicitor in the Wellington Office. I’ve been happily working there ever since!
Are there particular study subjects or working experience you would recommend to prepare for a similar role to yours?
The content of subjects studied at Law School are not that key to your ability to work as a lawyer. Apart from contract and torts, it doesn’t matter too much what else you study. The important thing is the analytical and written skills you need to develop. Any work experience that involves customer services, challenges, and working as part of a team will be valuable – to give you the skills you will need and an understanding of what people value when asking for help/assistance, and how to communicate well.
What are the highlights of the job?
Winning any litigation.
Helping clients to run successful businesses including recruiting great people and moving on those people who are not suited to their roles or the organization.
I also get to help people develop their skills and become excellent lawyers. It’s very rewarding to see the next generation flourish and grow their careers with us.
What are the challenges of the job?
The ‘admin’ that goes with being a Partner and board member in a large firm. Also with changes in technology, it is both good and bad that you can be contacted 24/7 – you have flexibility in terms of not having to be in the office to do your work but that means work can encroach more into personal time.
We’re fortunate to be in a firm that is supportive of flexible working arrangements which allows us to attract and keep great people who have varying commitments.
What kind of personal qualities are suited to this job?
Attention to detail, resilience, honesty, respect and integrity. A sense of humour will help – and don’t take yourself or others too seriously!
It’s important not to take things personally in a high performing and busy environment. In a team environment you need to get on with others, and be happy to share your knowledge with others. Keeping fit, eating well and getting enough sleep are also important – you need stamina!
What one thing do you wish someone had told you at law school?
We were told by our law lecturer on the 1st day of university (Laws101) that only 1 out of 3 of us would make it to year 2. I wish someone had told me then that I would make it!
Any other advice for law students wanting to get into a similar role?
Grab any opportunity you can to spend time in a firm – even to do admin type tasks as a holiday job. If you impress a firm with your work ethic, and you take pride in your work, they may offer you a job “as a lawyer”.