Six months ago, and only two years into her legal career, Southland-born Timaru lawyer Lauren Archer decided to change tack to litigation and courtroom advocacy.
“It was a pivotal opportunity after doing conveyancing, commercial, trusts and that sort of thing,” she says.
“I enjoyed that work, then the partners asked me if I would like to do litigation. I thought the advocacy role in court would be more for me.
- Lauren Elizabeth (Lauren) Archer
- Entry to law
- Graduated LLB and BCom from Otago University in 2016. Admitted in 2017.
- Solicitor at Timpany Walton, Timaru.
- Speciality area
- Employment relations and litigation
“It has been a great decision. I still keep the employment law side going and I was unsure at the start but since coming back for the new year it is all clicking into place.
“Court is where I like being and talking to people is more me that figuring out complex transactions and numbers. Making arguments and having a quick response, that’s what I like.”
With an active social life, Lauren is on a committee for South Canterbury young professionals, planning events. “It’s not just young professionals, it’s open to young adults starting a career. It gives an opportunity to get together and network. Timaru is small, so it is nice to know people round the community in different walks of life.
“We arrange a mix of things, including first-home buyers seminars, talks from bankers, bingo nights, social nights and a trip to the polo at the end of the year. It’s hard to retain young professionals in Timaru, so this helps to keep them here.”
Lauren’s mother Bernadette is a midwife in Southland and her father John is a management lecturer at the Southern Institute of Technology in Invercargill. Single, she has two brothers and a 14-year-old sister.
“At high school I cycled competitively, on track, road and mountain bike. I was most competitive in track at the secondary school nationals and featured in the South Island secondary school champs. I competed regionally on the road in Southland.
“That was before I went to university and gained a bit of an unhealthy lifestyle. I played basketball and netball socially - anything that involves a bit of socialising. I played rugby for a while at university, but there’s not much of an atmosphere for it for women in South Canterbury, so now its mountain biking when I have time.”
With family in London as a base, Lauren took two months off work in 2019 to travel in Europe on a Contiki tour through France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and The Netherlands.
“My parents are from Gore. My Nana and her sister were married to my grandad and his brother, so I have double cousins, but when you say Gore and double cousins, people look at you oddly.
“One of mum’s cousins was a lawyer, who recently finished being an employment authority member in Christchurch. Dad’s cousin is Judge Jane McMeeken, in the Christchurch Youth Court. So there’s a wee bit, but not too much, of the profession in the family.”
Encouraging words from Dean lead to attitude change
Lauren was not initially attracted to law. “In high school I did all sciences and really wanted to be a pharmacist. But at the end of high school I realised I was going to university to be more social and go for the experience.
“I asked mum if she minded if I did a BCom - much to her disappointment. She suggested I give law a go. I thought that was a good deal as an 18-year-old and all my friends were doing it.
“I didn’t go to any classes, I was having far too much fun and got a D in my first year. Law Dean Mark Henaghan told me I had to start focusing. Because I’m from Southland he thought I would get in if I gave it a good crack.
“I decided I should at least pass the paper. For next two months I studied from 8pm to 4am every night, slept till midday, and socialised through the day. I got a 75 overall average mark, which was entry level and got an invitation to second-year law.
“I didn’t know what to do but talked to an older friend who told me about law camp, which is not running anymore. It is not as harmful as what it sounded like - a big weekend of drinking with kegs and stuff. That appealed to me, so I decided to give it a go.
“I didn’t really enjoy the course until about half-way through the third year. By then I was interested, it appealed to me and it was working alright. Mum thought it would suit my personality because I am a rule follower. Once I started enjoying it my grades started improving. I don’t think I would have got my head down if Mark Henaghan had not spoken to me in his nice, kind, encouraging way.”
The Eagles and Stephen King
“I’m not musical, terrible at anything practical and failed music, failed woodwork and failed art at school.
“My favourite musician is American rapper Kendrick Lamar, and the most recent concert I’ve been to was The Eagles in Dunedin.
“My Dad got me on to reading Stephen King, which I like during summer and holidays, but most of my reading is more practical books applicable to work, like communication.
“I enjoy going to movies by myself and recently saw The Joker. I like movies where there is no predicable ending. Psychological thrillers or movies that make me think, like Shutter Island. I’m a Leonardo DiCaprio fan, because he’s good looking.
“I’m watching Shameless on TV and also like the American comedy Grace and Frankie.
“I got a new dog two months ago, an English cocker spaniel, a wee boy called Moo. He’s black and white with a black spotted front. I’ve just bought my first house and the minute I bought a house I had an excuse to get a dog.”
Lauren is one of thousands of Timaru folk whose cars were damaged by golf ball-sized hail stones last November so she is driving her Mum’s Honda CRV while waiting for her car to be repaired. “It was battered, windscreen and lights smashed by hail so I’m not sure what will happen with it.”
“Rarotonga is my favourite holiday place and we have been going there since I was seven or eight. Now I go every second year and love it. I love island time; no one is in a rush.”
As someone who loves cooking, Lauren’s number one dinner guest would be chef Gordon Ramsay. “I reckon he is quite a genius. I would love to sit down with him, get some tips and have a meal.”
“I make a really good chicken fettuccine, which I make from scratch and takes about three hours to cook. I might make a lamington for dessert. Depending on the day we would probably have Speights.
“I’m in the sun right now and Speights is calling my name at the moment. At 5 o’clock I’m a free bird.”
And if she wasn’t a lawyer Lauren says she would love to own “a wee café or restaurant, and make meals”.
Over a long career in journalism Jock Anderson has spent many hours in courtrooms and talking to members of the legal profession. If you think you would make for an interesting profile, or know of someone who would, contact Jock at firstname.lastname@example.org