DLA Piper names new NZ COO

The new executive is "a leader for the times," the firm's NZ managing partner says

DLA Piper names new NZ COO
James Fletcher

DLA Piper has named James Fletcher as the new COO for its New Zealand arm.

The new executive has a wealth of experience as a senior leader, having served as interim CEO at Crown-owned New Zealand Growth Capital Partners and as CEO of Treescape.

“James is a leader for the times, experienced at CEO level, forward thinking and at home leading in a global matrix environment,” DLA Piper’s New Zealand managing partner Martin Wiseman said.

Fletcher has worked in sectors like construction, facilities management, legal and financial services, aviation and healthcare. During his tenure at Treescape, he steered the $100m arboriculture, horticulture and landscaping business through the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, implementing strategic and operational changes within the company.

While at New Zealand Growth Capital Partners, which focuses on investing in early-stage tech startups, he overhauled the company’s culture, re-shaped its management team and executed a strategic plan supported by policies, practices and structure, DLA Piper said. Previously, he also headed up the New Zealand operations of OCS and Spotless Facility.

As New Zealand COO, Fletcher will be looking to focus on the execution of DLA Piper’s sustainability and ESG strategy.

“DLA Piper is already a fabulous organisation, very well-run and embracing of change. Among the major law players here it has been consistently ahead of the pack with well-grounded inclusivity and diversity policies, and has taken a leadership position in gender equity and social mobility,” he explained. “Even so, the times we are going through are all transition times now, and I am especially looking forward to helping embed DLA Piper's Sustainability and ESG strategy.”

Fletcher added that he was drawn to the firm because of its global reach, and said that joining the firm was a good feel and fit for him.

“There are obvious challenges for me in joining DLA Piper. How do you help make a workplace better that already has a great team, great clients, exemplary collegiality and a ton of forward thinking? It isn’t a bad problem to have, but the thing is, there is little time to stand still in the profession now; there will be plenty to get my teeth into in the years ahead,” he said. “And the past, now, is last year, not 10 years ago. We all appreciate this, so it’s a matter of employing specific strategies, like being alive to opportunities beyond existing areas of personal comfort and technological awareness.”

Fletcher declared that his objective was to help DLA Piper “improve a way of working that is already improving all the time.” While he starts with the firm today, he will officially step into the COO position on 1 October, succeeding interim COO Libby Irwin.

On stepping down as COO, Irwin will continue to act as DLA Piper’s New Zealand HR head.

“We asked Libby to act in the role on an interim basis after she returned from a year as Head of HR for Australia and New Zealand for DLA Piper. I keep asking Libby to do more and she always over delivers,” Wiseman said.

The firm’s previous New Zealand COO, Joanna Simon, recently took the helm at the New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa as CEO.

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