A Day in the Life of / Life / Life after law school

A Day in the Life of… Legal Counsel at Z Energy

Gemma Easton

Name: Gemma Hall
Job title: Legal Counsel
Employer, city/country: Z Energy, Wellington/New Zealand
Length of time in current role: Since November 2015
Where and when you studied law: 2004-2008 Otago University with final semester in Amsterdam

Describe a typical day in your job?

As Legal Counsel for Z, my role is very reactive to what is going on in the business. I am currently working on two projects, one is in respect of the divestment of service stations pursuant to our undertaking to the Commerce Commission following the acquisition of Chevron NZ. The second is a customer card project with business services. Both require legal support, whether it be contract development, negotiations, customer complaints, marketing content review or legal agreements.

Ultimately, whatever projects I am on will take up the most time. I also look after the Commercial team at Z which involves reviewing all supply contracts and variations to existing supply contracts, particularly where there are new products or changes to our processes.


How did you get into this job?

I worked in-house prior to working at Z and therefore had the relevant general experience. I knew someone at Z that referred me for the role.


Are there particular study subjects or working experience you would recommend to prepare for a similar role to yours?

Being a lawyer is essentially being a really good problem solver and being able to think on your feet. I would recommend courses that encourage you to present or speak up.


What are the highlights of the job?

The people, the culture, being a part of a growing NZ Company. With respect to the work, it is the variation of work that comes across my desk. It is impossible to plan the 6 months ahead as things are always changing and being in house means we are a reactive legal team.


What are the challenges of the job?

The demands from various business units and managing/establishing priorities.


What kind of personal qualities are suited to this job?

Working for Z requires an open, engaged personality. Being driven and focused and happy with change and unpredictability.


What one thing do you wish someone had told you at law school?

Law school is nothing like practicing law!


Any other advice for law students wanting to get into a similar role?

If the goal is to get into an in-house role it is important to get variation in your legal skills, as being in-house is mostly more generalist then specialist.