Meet our people

Our people are what make us a leading law firm. Check out what they have to say about their experience with us over the summer, as an intern, law clerk, and beyond.

Tom Simmonds

Law Clerk | Litigation

Hannah Cross

Solicitor | Financial Services

Ben Stewart

Solicitor | Construction

Tamara Wilson-Tasi

Law Clerk | Corporate

Hasaan Malik

Law Clerk | Litigation

Isabella Denholm

Intern | Litigation

Phillipa Lamberton

Solicitor | Banking

Shane Antia

Intern | Corporate

Chantal Hoeft

Solicitor | Litigation

Simran Bechan

Summer Clerk | Banking and Financial Services

Tom Simmonds

Law Clerk | Dispute Resolution

Tom

Summer clerk experience

 

Why did you choose MinterEllisonRuddWatts for your summer clerkship?

I chose MinterEllisonRuddWatts due to the firm’s expertise in commercial law, in addition to what I had heard about the firm’s culture. With the firm renowned for its work in areas such as dispute resolution, corporate law, and banking and finance law, along with the presence of some of New Zealand’s leading lawyers in these areas at the firm, MERW stood out for me. Additionally, from talking to younger solicitors and previous summer clerks I had heard of a very positive and supportive work environment at the firm which made me even more eager to choose it.

Tell us about your role as a summer clerk at MinterEllisonRuddWatts

As a summer clerk, I rotated through the Litigation team and the Corporate team in the firm’s Wellington office. My role in both teams involved assisting solicitors, associates, and partners with various matters they were working on. In the Litigation team, I was often involved in work such as legal research and preparing court documents, whilst in the Corporate team I did more work on drafting commercial contracts and other corporate governance documents. Overall, I greatly enjoyed the variety of work that I was involved in as a summer clerk, and it made sure that no two days were the same.

What was the highlight of your summer?

I had a couple of different highlights of my summer! The opportunity to learn directly from some of the best lawyers in the country was my first highlight, and I was able to develop my legal skills in a way that has helped me for the rest of my time at law school, and that will help me greatly in my future career. My second highlight was the firm’s culture and overall environment, which made the summer very enjoyable. Everyone at the firm was extremely supportive of all the summer clerks from Day 1, and that positive environment coupled with the festiveness around the office over the holiday season made for a very exciting and fun couple of months.

What is your advice to someone who might be considering working at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

My main piece of advice would be to be yourself and to highlight your passions and talents in your application. The firm is looking for people that stand out, so make sure you emphasise the ways in which you do – whether that be your academics, sporting achievements, musical talents, or anything else you’re involved in. Also, make sure you stay organised and prepared during the application process, making use of the resources and information available both online and at your university.

Shane Antia

Intern | Corporate

Shane Antia

Intern

 

Tell us about your role as an intern at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

My role as an intern in the Corporate (M&A) team was to assist the team in any work they had and complete a private equity project I was assigned.  This meant throughout the internship I always had something to do, which was great as it showed that the firm showed genuine interest in providing a meaningful experience to its interns.

One of the highlights of being part of the Corporate (M&A) team is the diverse nature of the work.  My responsibilities range from reviewing contractual documents such as Sale and Purchase Agreements (SPA), drafting director resolutions, to preparing research memos. There is never a dull moment, everyone is super approachable and always willing to help or have a chat about anything else.

What have you enjoyed most about your internship?

I could name countless of things, but if I were to single out two it would be the people and the quality of work you get given.  Everyone in the team and the firm are all super approachable and supportive, making the transition from law school to a big law firm much less intimidating.  As for the work, I was lucky to be involved in transactions with some of New Zealand’s leading companies and multinational corporations.  This provided a practical, hands-on experience that was both rewarding and insightful.

Why would you recommend an internship at MinterEllisonRuddWatts to others?

While law school lays the groundwork for our foundational understanding of the law it often diverges from the practical realities of the profession.  An internship at Minters bridges this gap.  It provides a supportive and welcoming environment where you can confidently apply what you learnt in law school knowledge to real-world scenarios, and also learn skills that are not taught in law school.  This hands-on experience not only enhances your skills but also prepares you for a successful career in law.

Phillipa Lamberton

Solicitor | Banking

Phillipa

Q&A

 

How would you describe the transition from law school to working at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

The transition from law school was reasonably seamless. Summer clerking meant that I was lucky to already be familiar with  some of the people and the type of work I would be doing. MinterEllisonRuddWatts also provides law clerks with a range of introductory training so you feel like you get to know the basics before joining your team. Having a buddy also meant I could ask any questions I had and made the transition much easier.

What drove you to apply for a role at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

I had heard good things about MinterEllisonRuddWatts’ culture, in that it was inclusive and an encouraging and positive work environment. I knew I wanted to work in transactional law and believed MinterEllisonRuddWatts would give me a great opportunity to work on some of New Zealand’s leading deals, with some of New Zealand’s best lawyers.

What do you enjoy most about working at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

Both the people and the work. During both my time summer clerking and my time as a law clerk, I have had the opportunity to work on some really interesting and challenging transactions and work. The people I work with have been extremely supportive, encouraging and helpful. This has enabled me to learn a lot and be given opportunities to take on responsibility for key aspects of client work.

In what way have you benefited from MinterEllisonRuddWatts’ professional development programmes?

I have been involved in several of the firm’s professional development programmes. I have found that these have encouraged me to approach issues in a new and different way, as well as developing my foundational legal skills.

What kind of work have you been working on in your role as a graduate?

I work in the Banking and Finance team, which means I have been involved largely in transactional work. This includes drafting key transactional documents such as facility agreements. It also means I get to be involved with clients and take on a reasonable amount of responsibility for ensuring a transaction runs smoothly. I have also done a variety of other work including legal research, drafting legal memos and opinions.

What advice would you give to someone who is applying for a graduate position with MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

I think the best thing you can do is be yourself and choose an area of law that interests you.

What do you think MinterEllisonRuddWatts is looking for in the ideal graduate?

I believe that our firm is looking for someone who is motivated, driven and enjoys working in a team and collaborating with others. I believe the firm values people that are genuinely interested in working in commercial law and are motivated to learn and develop a broad range of new skills.

Hasaan Malik

Law Clerk | Ligitation

Hasaan Malik

Empowerment, Inclusion and Diversity (EDI) member

What do you enjoy most about working at MERW?

The best part about working at MinterEllisonRuddWatts is without a doubt the great people you get to work with and the quality of work we do. Everyone you work with, whether they are in your team or from the wider firm, is supportive and the work is both challenging and rewarding. There are countless opportunities for learning and also to contribute to the firm. I’ve especially enjoyed being able to join and be a part of a meaningful initiative like our firm’s EDI Committee.

Tell us a little about the firm’s Empowerment, Diversity and Inclusion Committee?

Our EDI Committee is made up of partners and staff representatives, consisting of a range of both legal and non-legal staff at varying levels. Its purpose is to create opportunities for diverse people to feel valued and to excel at MinterEllisonRuddWatts. The committee ensures that there is an ongoing focus on diversity at MinterEllisonRuddWatts in every sense of the word. Their remit overlaps with the firm’s wider sustainability goals, which are designed to prepare the firm for the future.

Why did you choose to be a part of the EDI Committee?

Diversity and inclusion are all things that I am passionate about and think are highly important not only at Minters, but especially so in the legal sector. I think it is extremely important to recognise that while progress has been made, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. Improving diversity and inclusion needs to be an ongoing commitment in our industry. I wanted to add value to the Committee and help tackle those issues by bringing the perspective of someone affected by some of the issues that are the target of EDI efforts.

Tell us about your experience so far with the EDI Committee.

I’ve only been on the Committee for a short while, but I’ve been surprised at the amount I’ve learnt – in terms of not only the various initiatives that are tabled but also the issues that staff have raised as points of discussion for our meetings and seeing how the firm responds to these. It’s an area I really care about and I’m looking forward to making a meaningful contribution to these important efforts.

Ben Stewart

Solicitor | Construction

Ben

Secondment

 

What do you enjoy most about working at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

The two biggest things for me are the people and the quality of the work. I have been part of the Construction team for almost two years (I interned in this team through university) and the positive and supportive team culture was an enormous draw to me. Working at a firm like MinterEllisonRuddWatts also means that the construction projects I am involved in tend to be significant (both financially and in terms of the community asset).

Have you been on any secondments?

I have spent the past three months on full-time secondment at one of our firm’s energy company clients, assisting with the administration of construction contracts. This has mostly been remote (working from the MinterEllisonRuddWatts offices), but I have also made a few trips to Hamilton to meet the team.

How was your secondment experience overall?

The experience has been great. I’ve really enjoyed having so much client contact at such an early stage of my career and working full-time on a single project has given me a really good understanding of how the entire process works from start to finish. The work has been varied and challenging which has been very rewarding as I’ve gotten more familiar with it.

How have you benefited from your secondment work?

Being on secondment has given me the chance to understand things from the perspective of a client, which has been invaluable. Through the secondment I’ve also had the benefit of being able to see the bigger picture of how a file is managed by the team.

What advice would you give to someone at your level considering a secondment?

I think it is important to approach it with a positive and enthusiastic mindset. The learning curve on my secondment was pretty steep (getting up to speed on project history), but everyone at the secondment firm was very helpful and happy to chat about things.

Isabella Denholm

Intern | Dispute Resolution

Isabella

Intern

 

Why did you choose MinterEllisonRuddWatts for your internship?

I have always held MinterEllisonRuddWatts in extremely high regard because of the incredible work they do both in the commercial law field and in the communities of Aotearoa New Zealand. It was clear to me prior to applying that the firm has a strong culture of achieving excellence and success for their clients, yet also places great emphasis on encouraging and supporting their own people. Together, this makes them a truly phenomenal firm and I think it was the combination of these things that made me pursue MinterEllisonRuddWatts for my internship.

Tell us about your role as an intern at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

I interned in the Dispute Resolution team and my role as an intern involved assisting solicitors, associates, special counsel and partners with various tasks they were working on. This meant the work I did ranged from legal research to preparing court documents, with a whole lot in between. My role as an intern was one of great variety and, truthfully, I never really knew what task I’d end up doing on any given day. Overall, I believe the intern role is one of learning; learning new ways of thinking, learning new skills, and learning about different areas of the law and how they operate. It is a role I’m incredibly grateful to have had.

What was the highlight of your internship?

I have two highlights. Firstly, the learning aspect. The internship provides an incredibly unique experience to learn directly from some of the best legal minds in the country. There are so many opportunities to work with different legal professionals and it has been incredible learning skills that I know I will use for the rest of my legal career. The second highlight is undoubtedly the people. MinterEllisonRuddWatts has such an extraordinary culture of community and the people at the firm are so invested in you. As an intern, we were provided with a ‘solicitor buddy’ and a ‘responsible partner’ who we report to. I have found this to be such a helpful experience, which has made the transition to working in a law firm a whole lot less daunting and a whole lot more fun. I have loved working alongside so many amazing people and learning so much from them.

How has the work experience at MinterEllisonRuddWatts helped you with your studies?

On a specific level, the work experience at MinterEllisonRuddWatts has significantly developed crucial law school skills of legal research, writing case briefs, drafting legal documents – and more. However, on a more general level it has also really helped keep me motivated for university study. Towards the end of a degree, it can be hard to find the motivation to keep giving study 100%, as you start to feel ready to enter the workforce. However, gaining the work experience at MinterEllisonRuddWatts has given me a taste for what the real world will feel like and galvanised me to study even harder! It has really confirmed my love of the law and my desire to pursue a career in commercial law and affirmed to me that I’m doing the right thing.

Hannah Cross

Solicitor | Financial Services

Hannah Cross

Q & A

 

What type of work does your team do and for what type of clients?

The Auckland Financial Services team (part of the wider Banking and Financial Services team) does a wide range of work for many different types of clients. Essentially our remit is anything to do with financial services – so our clients include fund managers, insurers, banks, FinTech companies (e.g. payment services or digital asset/crypto companies) or large corporates with certain requirements such as AML/CFT compliance, financial reporting or, more recently, climate reporting.

Our work includes regulatory advice in relation to the provision of financial services, setting up investment funds (such as KiwiSaver schemes or venture capital funds), drafting and reviewing offer documents, engaging with regulators to seek exemptions for specific clients. We also get involved in M&A transactions where the deal has a financial services element to it.

What do you most enjoy about the team / the work?

The Financial Services team environment is really supportive. I am always challenged to push my boundaries which has ultimately lead to a huge growth in my confidence. All of my questions, big or small, are taken seriously and I am made to feel like the work I am doing is important and purposeful.

In terms of the work itself, I love that we are often advising on the ‘new’ – whether that is a new client bringing a unique product or service to the market, or new legislation that is intellectually challenging to get your head around. The financial services industry is highly innovative and it is a lot of fun to help exciting ideas come into fruition.

What has been the highlight of your time here so far?

I have really enjoyed working on climate-related matters, as it has given me many opportunities to have direct contact with clients and develop my professional skills. Climate-related disclosures is a new legal regime requiring large companies to produce climate reports about the risks and opportunities of climate change for their business, and how they will adapt to our changing environment. The best part about new regimes is that you do not have to be 20 years into your career to be considered knowledgeable – because everyone is learning along with you! We also help companies ensure they are only making environmental, social or governance (ESG) claims that are legitimate and achievable to avoid ‘greenwashing’, a social issue that is definitely trending at the moment.

What makes MERW a great place to work?

From day one I could tell that MERW had a warm and friendly atmosphere, thanks to the wonderful people, fun social events and amazing amount of support we receive. There are many helpful trainings and initiatives, including the MentorME programme where you are paired up with a more senior lawyer in a different team. You meet with this mentor throughout the year to seek their advice on anything or just learn more about other practice areas. MentorME plus the buddy system within your team means that you never feel like you have no one to turn to.

What was the biggest challenge when you first started working here?

As a fresh new law clerk, you want to be doing your absolute best work every day despite learning new things constantly and tackling tasks you have never done before, all while adjusting to full time work. This was initially overwhelming and it is easy to put pressure on yourself. I soon realised that there is a lot of breathing room for this adjustment and everyone is rooting for you, and most of your colleagues have been in your exact position. If you are showing up for the team each day and giving everything your best shot with enthusiasm – you are doing great!

What is your advice to someone who might be considering working at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

MERW doesn’t take a cookie cutter approach as to who could be a good fit for a role at the firm. While it is easier said than done, try not to stress about putting yourself in a box as to the typical person you think they would want to hire – of course academic skills are important, but don’t be afraid to highlight your quirks and interests outside of university study that sum up who you are as a person. Chances are, the skills you learn from these activities will come in handy at a law firm one way or another!

Simran Bechan

Summer Clerk | Banking and Financial Services

Simran Bechan

Tell us about the interview process at MERW

I found the interview process at MERW super smooth, accessible and easy to navigate through. I really enjoyed the recruitment process as it felt really personable and I felt like my application was genuinely paid attention to. There was the initial classic CV and Cover Letter application step, followed by the interviews at a later stage. The interviews were really an awesome chance to get to know the firm, your interviewers and find out more about how you could fit into the culture of the firm. I understand interviews are always daunting but I felt really comfortable and listened to during my interview which helped me become more confident during the interview overtime!

Why did you choose MinterEllisonRuddWatts for your summer clerkship?

As wāhine Pasifika, I wanted to choose a law firm that had expertise within a wide range of corporate and commercial mahi. My values fall within the scope of helping others in making a positive difference in our communities and I really like the kaupapa that Minters upholds in building trust with its clients and in providing a motivating work environment for its staff. I really like how the firm is people-centred, and everyone is genuinely passionate about the different areas of work that come through the firm.

What was the highlight of your summer?

Going on secondments! I was lucky to go on two secondments to two different clients from my rotations over summer. This was a great opportunity to learn about Minters’ connections with its clients from different areas, how the clients’ operations are run and understand the client’s point of view regarding particular matters. I took away so much from these experiences, like learning how to interact with clients, drafting emails, letters and memos and I know I have made lifelong connections with the agencies I was seconded to.

What is your advice to someone who might be considering applying for a summer clerkship at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

The best advice I could give is to give it a proper go and let your personality shine through your applications! Reflecting back to my application, I talked about my passions of serving my communities and giving back to those that helped me become who I am today. Outlining what matters to you the most and where you aspire to be in the future is a way to shine light on your personal experiences with the law and your journey.

Chantal Hoeft

Solicitor | Dispute Resolution

Chantal

A day in the life

 

7:00am

Just a regular day for me in the office today, so I wake up at 7.00am, get ready and leave the house at 7.30am. My commute is a 15-minute walk to the train and then a 15-minute train ride. I’m lucky to live so close.

8:30am

I arrive around 8.15am and walk across Britomart from the train to the office. I arrive at the office and catch up with the juniors in my team. I then head downstairs to grab a coffee (free today from the firm’s Social Club!) with my buddy Ellyse, then back up to check my emails. The first thing on my to-do list is to draft a memo to the court seeking an extension on a hearing date, to allow us time to serve documents on the other side. I give this a good first crack then send it to another solicitor in my team to review for me, as it’s the first time I’ve drafted one of these.

9:30am

Once I’ve got the memo back, I give it a check over and send it to the partner on the file for approval and signing.  While I wait to hear back from him, I get started on some document reviewing for a big discovery that I am working on at the moment.  I am enjoying this discovery because it’s on an interesting subject matter and the team involved are fun to work with. Discovery is also handy for those moments of spare time I have in between other tasks.

10:00am

At 10am I have a discovery team catch up meeting where we run through any documents we have come across that are unusual, or we don’t know whether to include or not. This is a whole team meeting, so there are a few juniors, one senior and a partner. These meetings are really helpful, and I always learn a lot from them – it’s a cool opportunity to hear the partner’s thought process on each issue.

12:00pm

The meeting took longer than we expected, but I am back to my desk at midday and starting to get hungry! I scan through my to-do list and pick a task that I know I can realistically get done in an hour (before my lunch break) to make the most of my time. I need to edit and finalise a Statement of Claim for a Summary Judgment proceeding I am working on. Being the junior on summary judgment proceedings is really cool because they are a pretty standard procedure, so seniors give us a lot of autonomy on these files. My aim is to have the statement of claim and accompanying affidavit done by the end of the day.

1:00pm

It’s time for lunch with my co-workers. For the month of August, the firm is giving all partners and staff free sandwiches for lunch on Tuesdays and Thursday and today is one of those days which is awesome. We all have a sandwich then head outside to get some sun and take a quick walk around the block before heading back to our desks.

2:00pm

Once I’m back after lunch, I get back into the Statement of Claim and affidavit. I am having fun drafting these and it’s really satisfying seeing the documents come together. I get them to a stage I am happy with and send them off to the Senior Associate on the file for review.

3:30pm

I catch up with a friend in another team for an afternoon hot chocolate at 3.30pm. She has not long started at the firm, so I want to hear how she is going and if there is anything she needs a hand with. She’s doing well and it’s nice to have a quick break.

4:30pm

I get stuck into some more document review. I am using the decisions we made in this morning’s meeting to apply to my review and go back and check that my other documents have been marked correctly.  This task will take me until the end of the day.

6:00pm

I check in with my buddy, submit my timesheets and head off for the day. I’m heading to a yoga class tonight down the road from the office that I am really looking forward to!

Tamara Wilson-Tasi

Law Clerk | Corporate

Tamara Wilson-Tasi

Q & A

 

What type of work does your team do and for what type of clients?

The Wellington corporate & commercial team works with a range of clients on a wide range of matters. To name a few, I’ve recently been involved in assisting with M&A due diligence, reviewing agreements for potential unfair contract terms and drafting a range of commercial contracts, shareholders agreements and other corporate governance documents. The type of clients we work for include government departments, listed and unlisted companies, charities, partnerships, start-ups, major banks, and a few private clients.

What do you most enjoy about the team / the work?

The Wellington corporate & commercial division has a very broad practice area. While the firm’s corporate partners have specialised practice areas, juniors are not yet tied to any specialised area within the division. The flexibility to work with any of the corporate partners has meant that I’ve been able to experience a variety of personal styles of practice. As a law clerk, no two days are the same. From the outset I’ve had exposure to incredible opportunities that have allowed me to develop my skills as a graduate and really challenge myself.

What has been the highlight of your time here so far?

As a summer clerk I was seconded to one of our clients for one week. Alongside being able to build new professional relationships, the secondment enabled me to understand our work from the perspective of a client and also the role of an in-house legal team.

What makes MERW a great place to work?

The people, culture and the quality of work are the best part about working at MERW. Since my first day as a summer clerk, I have been involved in complex work and provided with opportunities to meet and interact directly with clients. Everyone at our firm has been extremely welcoming and supportive of my professional development as a lawyer. Our firm also provides a range of social events so that we are provided with a range of opportunities to mix and mingle in both formal and informal ways. There is always something to look forward to in our calendar, such as the mid-year ball, Christmas breakfast, cabaret or a surprise social club ice cream visit.

What was the biggest challenge when you first started working here?

Experiencing imposter syndrome as I made the jump from learning the law to practising it. Once you begin work, you must learn to adjust from a very structured content learning style at university to a more flexible approach to work. Luckily MERW has training and support in place to assist law clerks in this process – everyone is assigned a buddy and there are internal mentorship programmes available. These trainings, alongside frequent coffee catch ups with my buddy and the support of my team, made the transition to working life run smoothly.

What is your advice to someone who might be considering working at MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

Job applications, interviews and functions can feel intimidating, but preparation is key. Make use of the resources available – attend our firm university events, sign up to mentoring programmes with junior or senior lawyers and don’t be afraid to ask questions!