Gallaway Cook Allan associate: Lawyers will need to constantly upskill

Wade Pearson believes that lawyers need to keep up with clients when it comes to tech use

Gallaway Cook Allan associate: Lawyers will need to constantly upskill
Wade Pearson

Wade Pearson only truly came to love law after he kickstarted his legal career. As a lawyer whose practice focuses on working with start-ups, he loves observing the innovative ways in which his clients are looking to address problems in the local community.

At Gallaway Cook Allan, Pearson is not only an associate, but he has also gotten involved in several initiatives. He was named chair of non-profit Startup Dunedin, which focuses on supporting startups in the area, and has been pitching in on the firm’s adoption of IT solutions.

In this interview, 2022 Rising Star Pearson talks about the need for lawyers to constantly upskill to catch up to clients with regard to using new tech to address issues. He also discusses looking forward to the birth of his second child, and wanting to hang out with heavy metal band Sabaton.

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

I fell into it – I liked languages at school, and (somewhat reluctantly) took first year law at Otago. My now-wife was studying pharmacy, and I appreciated her clear pathway to progress from degree to career, so I continued with law. I enjoyed some aspects but didn’t quite fall in love with it. It wasn’t until my first legal job after graduating that I appreciated how being a lawyer enables me to help people. I started getting involved with different businesses and found I really enjoyed it.

I like talking and connecting with people, but my favourite part is seeing all the cool things our clients do, and helping them to do those things. I also work with a lot of start-ups, and it’s so satisfying to advise founders who are trying to solve a problem they can see in the community.

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

At Gallaway Cook Allan, I’m really enjoying working with start-ups – we’ve invested a lot of time into the community and we can really see the impact we’re having. At Startup Dunedin (a non-profit that supports and grows Dunedin’s start-up ecosystem), we also have a busy year planned – we’re trying to expand our reach and ensure we’re helping underrepresented communities with some new programmes and collaborations. Watch this space.

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

We’re currently shifting to a new provider for a key IT solution at Gallaway Cook Allan. It’s been fantastic to be involved on both the lawyer and client side, as I’m normally limited to advising a client on the contractual side. It’s a great opportunity to be more involved with the inner workings of the firm, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the project unfolds over the next year.

What has been your proudest accomplishment in the last year or so? Or what’s the biggest lesson you learned in the past year and what advice can you give fellow lawyers about it?

Last year, I was lucky enough to become chair of Startup Dunedin. It has been a big learning curve but an awesome opportunity – I’m grateful to have a fantastic team and an incredible board around me. As an organisation, Startup Dunedin is punching well above its weight and it’s an exciting time to be heavily involved at a governance level. I owe a lot to the other board members, and the partners at the firm, who have supported and championed me to take on the role.

What should the profession focus more on?

Writing clearly and concisely.

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?

Technology. I think we’ll see a higher expectation on lawyers being able to excel at using different software tools. It’s easy to say “I’m just no good with technology,” but more and more lawyers will need to constantly upskill on how to effectively use technology. I’m not too worried about the robots taking over just yet, but we’re seeing more clients use new technologies to solve their problems – meaning lawyers need to get on board and up to speed quickly.

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

We’re expecting our second child this year, and I can’t wait to meet him.

If you were given an opportunity to spend a day with anyone (living or dead), who would it be and why?

I’d spend it with my wife and my son, as I love them to bits. But for a more inventive answer, it would be great to hang out with the members of Sabaton – they’re a Swedish heavy metal band who sing about military history (and do videos explaining the interesting stories behind their songs).

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