Chris Lord, partner of Craig Griffin & Lord, tells us about the need for smaller firms to put a succession plan in place, and about what his father promised his mother on their wedding day
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
The fact that I was hopeless at science and thought a BA would not lead to many career opportunities when I finally decided to seek full-time employment. I also felt I would be better suited to work that enabled me to meet people and become involved in their lives. l have discovered there is no limit to the strange situations people get themselves into.
How long have you worked at Craig Griffin & Lord for and what brought you to
I have worked with the firm since 1988, before then I was a partner in a small firm in Kaitaia for eight years. I joined CGL simply because they were looking to replace an employee who had left, a short, three-minute interview and that was it. No need for CVs to be prepared or produced.
What's the strangest case you've ever worked on/been involved with?
I'm not sure I can recall the strangest case but many cases in Kaitaia fell into the unusual category with court days sometimes not finishing until 8 or 9pm. One visiting judge in particular often required our appearance at the local hotel after the day’s hearings. After one very late night, counsel and the judge turned up for the next day's civil hearings the worse for wear. We were given very clear directions from the bench to settle all cases that were due to be heard that day.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Rowan Atkinson for Blackadder impressions, Winston Churchill to enjoy wine and cigars with and Hone Harawira to generally keep all the partakers on their mettle.
You're based in Auckland – where's the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
You’re asking a greying oldie who has little idea of which is seen as the best place, my weekly trip to the pub in Ellerslie where I meet friends, some dating back to school and university days is enjoyment enough for me.
What's the best advice you've ever been given (work or personal)?
From my father who told me when he married he agreed with my mother he would make all the big decisions and she could make the rest. After 50 years of marriage he was able to confirm they had never yet had a big decision to make. I have adopted the same policy with 40 years of marriage coming up in a couple of months. On a more serious note, before making decisions it is best to reflect on the thought "what would a wise man do".
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
Fishing, tramping and golf until an injury last year put the tramping to bed. However, I have discovered with delight golf is still an option. Playing chess online with my son in Bangkok has also given me much pleasure although the defeats are mounting up.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn't a lawyer, I would be... indulging in my hobbies wondering what I was going to do.
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand in 2014?
The need for smaller firms to put in place a succession plan, whilst the larger firms should have no issues there are a large number of small firms with one or two practitioners in their GO's wanting to hand over with no realistic way of being able to do so. Whilst this relates to suburban practices I suspect there are also many firms in smaller centres who are having difficulty in finding staff who are willing to stay.
If you had John Key's job for one day, what would you do?
Ensure all members of his Government pledge to stop contacting and providing information to the spin doctors of this world.
What do you love about your job?
The variety which you experience in a smaller firm where we can know a little about a lot but always can turn to expert help if needed. The meeting and reacting with such a wide range of people with the hope that sometimes you can give advice which helps them make the right decisions.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
Remove some of the dross that has been forced on us, such as the need to send a client care letter to clients for whom I have acted for thirty years or so every time we carry out new work for them. Apart from this minor grumble I am very happy with my work having made a pledge to myself some 10 years ago that if I was finding a particular matter was keeping me awake at night, I would pass it on to someone else.