New Zealand Law Society - NEW IN THE LAW: Charlotte Doyle, Law Graduate, Simpson Grierson

NEW IN THE LAW: Charlotte Doyle, Law Graduate, Simpson Grierson

This article is over 3 years old. More recent information on this subject may exist.

Charlotte Doyle
Charlotte Doyle

Charlotte Doyle has passed all the exams needed to graduate with a law degree. She doesn't hold a practising certificate yet but works for Simpson Grierson's Wellington office as a Law Graduate, helping with research and learning something new every day.

Growing up in Auckland in a family of five with two younger brothers, Charlotte Doyle first studied law at Otago University for three years before switching to Victoria University of Wellington to complete her studies.

“I switched to Victoria University in Wellington in the fourth year of my degree (many people assumed I was from here anyway). I will be graduating with an LLB(Hons) and BA from Victoria University in May.”  

When did you decide to become a lawyer?

A lover of writing, history and social issues, with aspirations of saving the world, Charlotte says “At an important assembly in 7th form, a former student told us it was important to pursue a career that fires you up and makes you angry. I understood what she meant by the end of my first year of law, hooked by the critical thinking, problem-solving and (occasional) lack of concrete answers.”

After finishing your studies, did you find the job matched the expectations you had in law school?  

“Law jobs can tend to be clumped into broad categories; working for a commercial law firm vs a government department vs judges clerking.

“Before starting, it was hard to appreciate that your working experience is shaped by people, whether it's your team or clients, and is very much defined by the specific teams and their speciality areas within those workplaces.”

What do you enjoy most about your job and speciality area?

“I am currently working for the Local Government and Environment team in the Wellington office at Simpson Grierson and the work I've seen so far is a great example of the private sector working with public bodies to achieve desired outcomes for communities.

“The team is one of its kind in the country so I am very lucky to be learning from experts.”

Is there anything you wish you learnt in law school that wasn’t covered?  

Rather than spending endless hours in the library reading, I think my degree would have benefited from a greater mix of theory and studying the law with practical experience.

“My grandfather's law degree in the 1940s had vocational elements but apparently, there was a shift more recently to law degrees being much more study oriented.

“After also experiencing university alongside my now-doctor friends, who spent a significant amount of their degrees in a variety of medical environments, it could be really beneficial for law faculties to do something similar.”

Are there any issues currently facing the legal profession that you would like to highlight? 

After recently studying the topic as part of the law honours programme, pay equity, and associated issues with gender equality in workplaces seems likely to be one of the biggest issues encountered by law firms in the near future (and also create a huge amount of legal work).

“Recent steps taken by the Government to legally solidify pay equity in New Zealand's employment structures have started an exciting new chapter for gender equality where not only will legal relationships between employers and employees be challenged but also the basic ways in which women's voices are heard by the law.”

Are there any issues currently facing young lawyers that you would like to highlight?

Shifting from a competitive degree where you work individually (and mainly in a quiet library) to an environment where you're part of a team (often open-office) can bring its challenges.

“Collaborating as part of a team while managing any competitive pressures in a workplace seems to be a big learning curve.

"It is incredibly important to embrace the experience and see every opportunity, whether it's printing or proof-reading or delivering a letter, as a way to contribute; but that is also only effective by learning how to communicate with the people around you and managing your own needs.”

Do you have ways to disengage from a long day at the office?

“When I started work, I was wisely told by a colleague that it would take a couple of weeks or months to adjust to being in the office full-time and not to panic about neglecting my extra-curricular activities.

“Sure enough it has become easier and easier to learn how to manage the longer days and keep up other creative pursuits (like writing) on the side.”

As Charlotte has finished her studies and is waiting to graduate she says, “reading something that isn't university course materials is also still a novelty.”

Lawyer Listing for Bots