NZ Lawyer chats with Jeremy Caughey of Metro law about the importance of adapting to the international legal environment and his impressive coffee-making skills
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I have always had a keen interest in business, so when deciding what to study at university a Bachelor of Commerce was an easy choice. According to my high school Careers Advisor, every man and his dog has a BCom majoring in Management – she convinced me to throw in a law degree to make my BCom look better. It turns out I found law pretty interesting!
How long have you worked at Metro Law for and what brought you to that position?
I joined Metro Law straight out of university and have been there for just over two years. There was a bit of luck involved with getting the job actually: I was completing my application for my certificate of character when I realised I needed to make a statutory declaration. I was running late for a plane so I literally ran to the nearest law firm – which was conveniently just 50 metres up the road (Metro Law). Michael Hemphill, one of the partners, witnessed my statutory declaration and noticed I was applying to be admitted as a lawyer. A bit tongue in cheek, I asked: “Any jobs for bright young graduates here?” “Maybe,” replied Michael. “Flick me through your CV.” It turns out Metro Law had listed an advert for a graduate solicitor role on Seek that day. Some might say it was a case of right place, right time – but I’d prefer Seneca’s phrase that ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity'.
What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I would love to tell you, but I don’t think I can pull it off without embarrassing anyone.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu: It would be great to be able to say that my meatloaf had a part to play in successfully negotiating world peace.
You’re based in Auckland – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
I live and work in Ponsonby so I am spoiled for choice when it comes to entertaining clients or relaxing with friends: Revelry is my favourite spot for a drink after work and it’s not a bad place to strutt your stuff on the d-floor later on either. I would also highly recommend Orphans Kitchen - fantastic food and a vibrant atmosphere with a ‘hipster’ twist.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” A bit of wisdom from Dr. Seuss. I think this is a wonderful way to approach some of the difficult times in life, and anyone in law can appreciate the highs and lows that can come with the job.
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I grew up on Lake Okareka (one of the stunning Rotorua lakes), so I have always had a passion for waterskiing and wakeboarding. I only manage to get out on the lake a few times a year now so I try to make the most of it. I also enjoy spending time with my fiancée Victoria, ahead of our wedding in early 2015.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
An entrepreneur. One of the great things about my role at Metro Law is that many of the people who walk through our doors have budding ideas and innovations, and they want our help to turn these ideas into reality. These people are always so passionate about their ventures and I really enjoy sharing in their excitement and knowing I am helping them to protect themselves and achieve their vision.
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand in 2014?
That’s a tricky one. Last year I would have said the New Zealand brain drain but it appears the recent performance of our economy is resolving this issue. I might say adapting to the international legal environment as New Zealand increases its presence in the global economy.
If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
Practice shaking hands.
What do you love about your job?
The people. There is such a fun, positive and supportive environment at Metro Law which I think is a key element for any successful firm given our high stress profession. We are in an open plan office which allows us to bounce ideas off each other and share information really efficiently. Our clients pick up on our relaxed atmosphere which breaks down the air of formality that is traditionally associated with law firms.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
I would put my desk further away from the coffee machine (although I think the partners strategically placed it there). I just need to shuffle at my desk to hear the “while you’re up, Jeremy.” I guess this is due to my mastery of the art of coffee making. It is a gift and a curse.