Buddle Findlay names new national chair and board members

New leader is a "force to be reckoned with," the firm says

Buddle Findlay names new national chair and board members
Jennifer Caldwell, Buddle Findlay national chairwoman

Buddle Findlay has named new leaders, including a new national chair and three new board members, as it celebrates its 125th anniversary.

The firm has appointed Jennifer Caldwell as its new national chairwoman. It has also appointed Paul Farrugia, Sherridan Cook and Charlotte von Dadelszen as new board members. Caldwell, only the second woman to take the reins at the national firm, succeeds partner Paul Beverley.

Beverley said that the newly appointed leaders are experienced partners and that the firm is fortunate to have them in their roles. Caldwell said that Beverley and partners David Thomson and David Perry, who will be stepping down from the board, have made significant contributions to the firm.

A force

“Known for her resilience and forward-thinking, Jennifer Caldwell is a force to be reckoned with. As a senior partner in Buddle Findlay’s Auckland resource management team, Caldwell works on New Zealand’s largest infrastructure projects, and is well-positioned to take the reins as Buddle Findlay’s national chair from 1 April,” the firm said.

In the announcement of her appointment, the new leader highlighted the need for all industries to be agile in facing change and challenges.

“Whether it is the coronavirus or the rise of AI, businesses and employees need to remain agile and open to transformative ways of operating. We need to constantly check and refresh to ensure we can anticipate and respond to change,” she said.

Philip Maitland, Buddle Findlay chief executive, said that Caldwell starts her new role at the firm at an exciting time. “Her diverse background working in-house and in private practice, both offshore and in New Zealand, gives her a unique perspective. We are delighted for her to approach the role with her open-minded outlook and drive,” he said.

Focus on people

One of the focuses of the new Buddle Findlay’s new chairwoman will be on people, the firm said.

''I want to develop a stronger sense of shared purpose, both within Buddle Findlay and in relationships with our clients. Given our ever-changing market and the challenges law firms are facing now and in the future, we need to be working collaboratively to meet the needs of our clients and our people. That is what success looks like to me,” she said.

Caldwell is known for her expertise in resource management and environmental and local government law. She has extensive experience as a strategic adviser and specialist litigator in the Environment Court, High Court, and high courts. She is a leading lawyer in New Zeland in advising on consent and designation projects and strategic planning processes.

Typical Kiwi upbringing

Caldwell credits her perspective and much of her success to her “typical Kiwi upbringing,” the firm said.

"I've succeeded on my own terms, and that's something I'm grateful for and proud of. The value of diversity extends far further than gender and ethnicity; we need diversity of thought, perspective and experience as well."

Caldwell is the first in her family to attend university, is the product of a co-ed, state secondary education, and received little encouragement towards a professional career, the firm said. Nevertheless, she made partner in 2000.

She then moved with her family to Abu Dabhi in the United Arab Emirates, where she became a legal director in a government-owned property developer. This role made her see her work as a lawyer in a new light, the firm said.

“Working in a country with a fairly new and undeveloped legal system was a real eye-opener for me. My role was centred around solving problems rather than advising on the law and it made me realise the value of common sense and clear thinking. I reflect on this experience often and it shapes the way I work and mentor others,” she said.

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