NWM senior solicitor: 'Never underestimate the value of people'

Tia Faiaoga believes that diversity shouldn't just be a marketing tool

NWM senior solicitor: 'Never underestimate the value of people'
Tia Faiaoga

For Lemaluotiafau “Tia” Faiaoga, every person on a lawyer’s team, from their PA to their IT manager, has value. The Norris Ward McKinnon (NWM) senior solicitor has always taken a people-centric approach to what she does in the law.

A wills and estates specialist, Faiaoga works on a variety of estates disputes, and highlights how “no two matters ever reach the same end result” in the process of resolution. For her, the best part of the job is how she is able to break down a client’s situation in language that they can understand and ease their worries.

In this interview, Faiaoga talks to NZ Lawyer about changing the culture of the legal profession, being named NWM’s cultural ambassador earlier this year and looking forward to seeing her loved ones in Samoa.

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

I like helping people. My favourite part of the job is easing a client’s worries by explaining their current situation and providing them with options in language that is simple and easy to understand.

What is the most memorable case/matter you've taken on/been involved in?

The most memorable matters I’ve been involved with are estates disputes where the parties are a surviving spouse from a second or third relationship and children from previous relationships. It’s interesting to see that after negotiations, no two matters ever reach the same end result.

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

I have recently been appointed the cultural ambassador for my firm. This role involves developing initiatives to increase our understanding of culture and diversity as a firm.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the past year and what advice can you give fellow lawyers about it?

Some advice I would give fellow lawyers is to never underestimate the value of people. Each person in your team whether it’s the personal assistant, receptionist, IT Manager, Administration Assistant, legal secretary, lawyer or legal executive has value.

What should the profession and law firms focus more on?

Changing the culture within the legal profession so that diversity becomes a “norm” and not a marketing tool.

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 Trusts Act 2019 came into force on the 30 January 2020. It will be interesting to see how the legislation is interpreted and applied by the legal profession and especially the courts.

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

The borders opening and being able to travel to Samoa with my family to visit loved ones.

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