New Zealand Law Society - An interview with Auckland Young Lawyers committee member Freya McKechnie

An interview with Auckland Young Lawyers committee member Freya McKechnie

Tell me a bit of background about yourself?

I was born overseas but moved to Auckland when I was young. I grew up here but moved down to Wellington for university. I then came back to Auckland to take a grad job and have been here ever since. I work at Morris Legal, which is a boutique litigation firm specialising in trust, estate and relationship property disputes.

What made you want to become a lawyer?

Freya McKechnie

At high school I had thought law might be a bit dry (as others had warned me) and thought I would prefer to go into journalism, advertising or public relations. My parents encouraged me to study law and see if I liked it, as they thought it was a good degree to keep my options open. It turned out that I did and the further I got through law school, the more sure I was that I wanted to be a lawyer. In particular, I enjoyed learning about case law and seeing how the law applied to real life scenarios, as well as how different legal issues arose and were dealt with.

What challenges do you see confronting the legal profession in the next five years?

The most obvious challenge right now is the impact of COVID-19 on law firms and the economy more generally. Being in a recession will likely also exacerbate existing access to justice issues. Civil litigation is often out of reach, or uneconomic, for many New Zealanders. It will be interesting to see how legal aid in this area develops over the next few years.

While not really a challenge for many young lawyers, I think it is a learning curve for the legal profession as a whole to embrace new technology. I work at a completely paperless firm, which makes life a lot easier. You can work more efficiently when all your documents are tech-searchable rather than having to pore over pages and pages of paper. We do occasionally have people calling up and being shocked we don’t have a fax machine though!

What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the law?

Talk to as many lawyers as you can about their jobs. Legal jobs are so varied and I know my day looks very different to my friends in corporate/commercial teams or working in-house. I think finding an area you enjoy and playing to your strengths is key.

What made you decide to become involved in the AYL Committee?

I was on the law students’ society executive while at law school so I thought it was a good continuation of this. Collegiality is an important part of the legal profession and, as a young lawyer, I have also found being involved in mentoring programmes really valuable. Practising law is challenging and it’s nice to meet other lawyers you can talk to and learn from. Plus, it means you are less likely to bore your non-lawyer friends talking to them about it!

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you be?

Most likely a journalist, though my BA is in art history and I would love a job where I get to put this to use.

What is your go to lockdown survival tip?

Getting outside for a walk or a run was good to avoid feeling too stuck in one place. I was lucky to have great company in my “bubble” and we would plan lots of weekend activities to keep lockdown from getting boring.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Socialising with friends, getting out of Auckland and going to the beach. I am big on food so will often be having dinner with friends, either cooking at home or going to a restaurant.

Favourite Coffee shop in the CBD?

The people at three beans make great coffee, but it’s hard to beat Amano for their bakery selection. Amano’s coffee comes single shot though so it’s crucial to remember to add an extra! For somewhere closer to Shortland Street, Hugo’s Bistro or Atomic for their iced coffees.

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