KTC partner says the legal profession needs to do better in developing junior lawyers

As a trainer and mentor, Scott Worthy is proud of the homegrown talent the firm has brought up

KTC partner says the legal profession needs to do better in developing junior lawyers
Scott Worthy

Scott Worthy considers people to be an important point of focus for a firm. The employment law vet, who recently ascended to the partnership at Kiely Thompson Caisley (KTC) after having been part of the firm since 2013, is especially passionate about building up the next generation of legal talent.

Worthy is active as a staff trainer and mentor within KTC, and counts the wealth of homegrown lawyers in the firm as a point of pride. However, he believes that the legal profession needs to give more attention to the empowerment of young talent to facilitate its continued growth.

In this interview, Worthy talks about KTC’s staff-centred initiatives, pulling off a victory in the Supreme Court and incorporating change into “the best of the traditional lawyer-client relationship.”

What’s your favourite part of a career in law?

I really enjoy advocacy and the challenge of persuading others to my client’s point of view. Working with clients to develop solutions that deal with their legal difficulties in a practical way is the best part of the job. It’s really satisfying to develop a plan and work with clients to implement it successfully.

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

My most memorable case was one that eventually led me to the Supreme Court: New Zealand Air Line Pilotsʼ Association Inc v Air New Zealand Ltd [2017] NZSC 111, [2017] 1 NZLR 948. It was a case about identifying the correct principles for the interpretation of a collective employment agreement. The case had a number of challenges, but we were successful in obtaining a judgment in Air New Zealand’s favour.

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

The firm is growing with the appointment of two new partners, so the focus needs to be on our people. We’ve put in place new initiatives around flexible working and developing our staff.

I’m particularly involved in staff training and mentoring. Many of our law clerks go on to solicitor roles with the firm, and I’m proud of the home-grown talent we have developed.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the past year?

In the employment law field, it has to be dealing with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The firm has shown great resiliency despite the lockdowns, and we were able to provide a seamless service for clients.

What should the profession and law firms focus more on?

Developing and empowering junior lawyers. I think we need to do better if we want more junior lawyers to stay in the profession long term.  

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 biggest challenge will likely be client demand for more adaptive, flexible and cost-efficient responses to their legal needs. We have to be ready for and accept change while preserving the best of the traditional lawyer-client relationship.

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

Further developing my practice as a partner and contributing to the ongoing success of the KTC team.

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