Simpson Grierson senior solicitor: Make things happen for yourself

Celina Chang is set to take London by storm

Simpson Grierson senior solicitor: Make things happen for yourself
Celina Chang

Celina Chang “always thought” she’d be a lawyer one day, and it has come to pass with her becoming a senior solicitor with Simpson Grierson’s corporate team.

Taking initiative has been an important learning for Chang over the past year, and she believes that lawyers can always do something to mould their career in a meaningful way. Indeed, Chang is taking charge of the next step in her career by relocating to London later this year.

In this interview, Chang talks Simpson Grierson’s wellbeing and safety platform, working sustainably, and wanting to know what Leonardo da Vinci would think of the world today.

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

As someone who always thought I would become a lawyer one day, it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly drew me to the field. Looking back, I believe it was a combination of my interest in problem-solving and my love of reading and writing.

Being a transactional lawyer is a varied job, with every day bringing unique challenges. I really enjoy being a trusted advisor to clients which operate across a range of industries, and guiding them towards a solution to their legal issues. There is a great sense of satisfaction that comes with providing advice that helps clients achieve their business objectives.

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

One particularly exciting initiative is Simpson Grierson’s recent re-brand. It has given us a fresh new look and is also a great reflection of one of our values, being “energetic for change” in a constantly evolving industry. Aside from the re-brand, our corporate and commercial practice has released a very comprehensive training schedule for the rest of the CPD year. At an associate level, I am always looking for ways to upskill and these training sessions provide a valuable opportunity to do just that.

I am also a member of the New Zealand Asian Women Lawyers Committee, which recently held an exciting event on 23 May.

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

A key lesson I have learned is the importance of taking control of your career. Whether it is pursuing experience in a particular field, seeking out mentorship and feedback, or simply taking time to reflect on your goals and priorities, there are always steps that lawyers can take to meaningfully shape their career.

Being proactive is important, as waiting for things to fall into your lap is unlikely to give you the professional development and personal fulfilment that you want. The main takeaway here is really just to take initiative and make things happen for yourself.

What should the legal profession focus more on?

I believe that the legal profession should focus more on mental health and wellbeing, and how we can balance this with the demands of our work. The legal profession is notorious for long hours and a high-pressure environment. We need to continue the conversation on mental health and wellbeing, and make this a priority.

While many firms have recognised the importance of mental health and wellbeing and provide helpful resources such as counselling and wellness programmes, this needs to be a meaningful and consistent effort. Simpson Grierson has recently launched Sonder, a wellbeing and safety platform which provides employees and their family with 24/7 access to health professionals (including mental health support). I am looking forward to exploring this app and seeing how I can incorporate it into my own wellness routine. At the end of the day, we should always be thinking about how we can manage the demands of our work in a more sustainable way.

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 downturn in the global economy will undoubtedly have an impact on transactional activity over the next year. The general consensus seems to be that 2023 will be a slower year for M&A transactions than 2022, and it will be interesting to see how this shapes the type of work that comes through and how law firms navigate this.

Another industry-wide challenge is the increasing use and influence of technology, with advancements in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. While I do not believe the argument of “AI replacing lawyers” is quite feasible in the foreseeable future, the pervasiveness of technology is both a challenge and opportunity for the legal industry. Those of us in the profession will need to be able to leverage these technological changes in order to remain competitive and deliver the best value to our clients.

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

After four rewarding years at Simpson Grierson, I am opening the next chapter of my legal career and moving to London later this year to join a City firm. I am looking forward to the new challenges that this move will bring, including the different legal market and an opportunity to work amongst our British counterparts – in addition, of course, to exploring all that London has to offer.

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

One person who comes to mind is Leonardo da Vinci. He was a genius whose talents and achievements spanned multiple fields – it is difficult to think of someone in modern times whose contributions have been nearly as wide-ranging and significant.

It would be incredibly interesting to gain insight into his thought process and working methods. I would love to hear his perspective on the world today, including what he thinks of the impact that his works have had on history.


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