DLA Piper partner on how LOTR’s Sauron was actually an equal opportunity employer

Daniel Street enjoys helping to champion pro bono work for organisation’s most vulnerable members

DLA Piper partner on how LOTR’s Sauron was actually an equal opportunity employer

For Daniel Street, the Lord of the Rings villain Sauron was simply someone who wanted his rightful property back – and offered gainful employment to the shunned races in Middle-earth.

The litigation expert, who recently joined DLA Piper as its newest partner, is a staunch supporter of helping the most vulnerable members of society through pro bono work. He also champions the implementation of better parental leave policies that cater to both primary and secondary carers.

In this interview, Street talks the “constantly evolving” ESG space, working with global colleagues and retaining staff in “an international talent war”.

What made you choose a career in law, and what's your favourite part of the job?

The opportunity to learn new things every day and work with clients on solving problems. Being in litigation, I love dealing with a variety of client businesses and learning deeply about how their industry works.

What is going on at the organisation? Are there any new programs and initiatives that you’re particularly interested in?

DLA Piper runs a number of great diversity and inclusion programmes and initiatives to improve access to justice and social mobility within the profession. A new initiative that I'm particularly interested in is the collaborative pro bono framework that the firm is driving with Te Ara Ture. The profession-led initiative aims to support and promote pro bono work with firms across the industry, working together to serve the needs of the most vulnerable in society.

What tech-related initiatives adopted by the organisation, if any, are you most excited about?

As a global law firm, we're fortunate to have a range of tech focussed tools available to us. Given I work in the litigation and regulatory team, I'm particularly interested in the new bribery module which is part of our risk detection service, Aiscension. Bribery is a growing compliance risk and with regulatory scrutiny around the world increasing, it is a major issue affecting most of our clients. The bribery module offered by Aiscension combines award-winning AI with DLA Piper’s legal knowhow so clients can assess their compliance risks faster and more cost effectively than conventional review methods.

What has been your proudest accomplishment in the last year or so?

My biggest accomplishment would be my appointment as partner! I'm excited about this chapter and the opportunities it presents. DLA Piper has a clear vision of where it wants to be. It's very much in growth mode, competing and securing top-level work in New Zealand. The international firm was awarded the number one law firm ranking for ESG by Impactvise in 2023, and I can't wait to bring that international expertise to New Zealand clients.

What should the profession focus more on?

I think balanced parental leave policies between genders is an area the profession could do better in. Females are no longer the only primary carers and we should be acknowledging that. I'm pleased that DLA Piper is leading the field in this area with a parental leave policy applying to primary and secondary carers from families of all dimensions.

What are the challenges you expect in your practice, and in the business of law in general, going forward? What challenges are particularly pressing in the country’s legal industry?

The perennial issue of keeping staff in an international talent war. Naturally, a number of younger staff members tend to head offshore for their big OE. What's fantastic to see is a number of people returning to the firm after their overseas stints, bringing with them a wealth of experience from having worked offshore.

We've also re-opened our international secondment programme which will see five people work in our offices in other countries this year. It's a great opportunity for employees to travel and connect and collaborate with our international colleagues at the same time.

What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?

I'm really looking forward to meeting and working alongside my new international colleagues to bring great advice and perspective to New Zealand businesses competing at home and overseas. It's a fascinating time to be working in ESG, it's a space which is constantly evolving, and requires everyone across the country working on the transition to a low emissions economy.

If you had to defend a fictional antagonist/villain in court, who would you pick, and why?

If I could choose to defend any antagonist it would have to be Sauron, the Lord of the Rings, Maia of Morgoth and the second Dark Lord. He simply wanted his rightful property returned and provided gainful employment to races shunned by others.

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