NEW IN THE LAW: Louise Laming, Solicitor, Berry & Co, Oamaru
Tell me a bit about yourself
"I grew up in Oamaru, as the ninth child out of ten. This was, as you can imagine, a lot of fun and also kind of crazy. As one of the youngest, I actually became an aunt when I was 13 and currently have 23 nieces and nephews – always entertaining."
Louise attended Craighead Diocesan School for Girls and studied at Otago University, graduating in May 2014: "I didn't intend to end up back in my hometown, but as it transpired the opportunity arose at Berry & Co and I started in July 2014." She was admitted to the Bar a few months later in October.
When did you realise that you wanted to be a lawyer?
"Honestly, it wasn't so much a realisation but rather a series of events that just so happened to lead me to where I am now.
"When I was admitted to the bar I decided to explain to the presiding judge that I ended up as a lawyer through a process of elimination – I don't like math, I don't like accounting, I can't sing or draw. So when it came time to enrol in university and choose papers, a decision had to make. I figured that, as I was good at English and History, I would enjoy law, but I still didn't know if I wanted to be a lawyer."
Louise says that this uncertainty continued throughout law school: "I'm a pretty firm believer in 'everything happening for a reason' and that you will end up exactly where you're meant to be so I guess you could say I left it in fate's hands."
It wasn't until she was employed did the desire to practise law really hit. "While studying profs, I sent my CV around a few law firms in the Otago region and as fate would have it, there was a position for a graduate solicitor at Berry & Co. The moment I got the job, I realised I wanted to be a lawyer."
What do you enjoy most about being a lawyer?
"I couldn't refine it to any one thing. I love the wide variety of work I do, the opportunities my firm give me to expand on my expertise and my legal knowledge through extra training."
Louise also enjoys the independence that comes with her work and the laid-back nature of her workplace, "…everyone gets along and we have a lot of fun together."
What made you lean toward your specialties?
"I'm really lucky to be in the position I am in. Working in a small town law firm has given me the opportunity to gain experience in a lot of areas of expertise. I started in the litigation department, and that still remains my primary area, I do a lot of employment law, which I really enjoy."
Louise practices a variety of fields - criminal law, conveyancing, civil litigation, dispute resolution and family law. She has also branched into immigration law saying, "Oamaru and the wider North Otago area has quite a large immigrant population due to the dairy farming industry. I was finding a lot of immigrants preferred to engage a lawyer to undertake the application process rather than do it themselves."
She also completed her duty lawyer training last December and is in the process of becoming a legal aid provider.
Is there anything you wish you learnt in law school that wasn't covered?
"I think it would have been really beneficial to learn about the financial structure of law firms towards the end of the degree, such as time recording, billing, budgets and the different structures that can be applied." She continues, "I think it would be useful for a prospective young lawyer to understand the investment a firm puts into them in their first few years of practice."
Do you have any advice you could give new graduates entering the profession?
"Work-life balance. I'm a big fan of having the right work-life balance because I think it is paramount to your mental well-being. I also don't see any benefit in stressing and would always advise not to let stress get the better of them – as I like to say, worry is a wasted emotion."
Can you tell me about anyone who inspires you?
"I couldn't name anyone specific. I'm just inspired to succeed in my career while also leading a happy life."
What are your favourite ways to disengage from the job?
"I love coming home from work and taking my Labrador retriever, Blue, for a big walk. It's really beneficial having a dog that needs a lot of exercise because it means you get outside in the fresh air in the middle of winter, regardless of the weather."
She also has the benefit of having a younger sister as a yoga teacher, and she attends her classes twice a week saying, "Yoga has so many benefits for both your physical and mental wellbeing."
And finally, "Oh, and I love to shop!"
Angharad is a Wellington journalist.
Last updated on the 16th June 2016