New Zealand Law Society - Iron Woman who quit lab-ratting for law

Iron Woman who quit lab-ratting for law

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

By Jock Anderson

Natalie Louisa (Natalie) Gaskin
Entry to law
Graduated Victoria University of Wellington, 2005. Admitted 2006. 
Partner at Johnston Lawrence, Wellington. 
Speciality area
Commercial and property law.
Natalie Gaskin
Natalie Gaskin

Top Wellington-born triathlete Natalie Gaskin was in a cell biology class at Victoria University when she looked around and decided she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life in a laboratory – known in the trade as a “lab rat.”

Realising she preferred to deal with people, Natalie quit her science degree and took up law.

“I had an uncle who was a lawyer but the family were mainly public servants, teachers – my brother is an engineer,” says Natalie, who, after nearly four years at Johnston Lawrence, was made a partner in December 2014, specialising in commercial and property law.”

“Two months into my partnership all is going well. In addition to my client work, the biggest changes are in additional management and administration, which is common for partners in a medium sized firm.”

Her husband Dean is a radiographer at Wellington Hospital and is also a top-rated ironman.

Their demanding sport requires constant training for gruelling swimming, running and cycling stages.

“We have no kids and a small cat called Chloe who likes Dean more than me.”

At 33, Natalie is a top age group long course triathlon representative and in 2013 was the New Zealand long course age group champion. She recently competed in the ironman world championships at Kona in Hawaii.

“There’s a surprising number of lawyers who do ironman training, and a lot of doctors and other professionals.

“It’s a good outlet. It takes a lot of time and commitment but comes with a great sense of achievement.

“Johnston Lawrence know it is important to me. And it works if you can be flexible in your working hours.

“Work/life balance is important. It’s not just about juggling a young family. If the workplace offers some flexibility you create a lot of goodwill with staff.

“You no longer have to be at a desk from 8 to 6. We have a few people with young families who get the flexibility to work a bit at night after the kids have gone to bed and go the extra mile to get the job done on time.

“I do early morning training sessions every day, at least 16 hours and sometimes 22 or 23 hours a week. I don’t start before 4.30 am and I am coming through Wellington when some people are on their way home from a night out."

Lunchtime runs – “running is my favourite and I was a very competitive runner at high school” - are usually round the city’s waterfront.

Natalie was third amateur home in the 70.3 triathlon event in the Auckland CBD earlier this year, after beating several professional athletes to be the first amateur home in the 2014 event.

This year was the last 70.3 event in Auckland: “It’s been great having this event in the middle of the city with a fantastic crowd, but the logistics of putting it on are complex and disruptive.”

“I read light chick lit books, nothing involving law, and we often go to movies at the Roxy in Miramar, which is close to where we live. And there’s nothing wrong with a bit of Coronation Street …”

“On TV I watch medical dramas such as Greys Anatomy and Boston Legal when it was on.” She is also on her local triathlon club committee.

Meanwhile, she is in training for the New Zealand Ironman at Taupo in early March. That’s a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and 42.2km run.

Husband Dean – who has raced in the world ironman championships in Hawaii three times - is having “a little retirement” from triathlons and ironman events.

Instead, he took up “Everesting” – where cyclists ride the equivalent height of Mt Everest (8,848 metres) by biking up a handy local peak. In Dean’s case he rode up and down Wellington’s Mt Victoria 100 times in 14 hours in a howling Wellington gale.

“He’s 40. He’ll make a comeback …” says Natalie.

She says law gives an opportunity to be involved with clients but to also make a difference in someone’s life by helping them achieve their goals.

“Working in commercial law you have to be someone who wants to help people …”

Would she like to be a Judge?

“Probably not…I like dealing with the clients too much … but who knows, that could change …”

Jock Anderson has been writing and commenting on New Zealand lawyers and New Zealand's courts for several decades. He also writes the weekly Caseload column for the New Zealand Herald. Contact Jock at

Lawyer Listing for Bots