An only child, Leila Alexander was interested in musicals and theatre from a young age and her passion for this area of the arts has stayed with her.
As she came to the end of her time at St Kentigern’s College in Auckland, Leila realised a decision needed to be made for her post-high school education.
“My favourite paper at High School was English and I'd done the best on that topic. I felt that out of all my other artsy papers, my career path ought to be law and so I decided to study it at University.”
"I also applied for a Music degree, majoring in singing. I ended up getting into both, so did two separate degrees; Music and Law.”
What is your speciality and why did you choose it?
Currently working in a construction law team Leila says, “…at Simpson Grierson you do a rotation. So, I started in general commercial litigation, focusing on media law, did a rotation in the intellectual property team and then I went to construction...”
“…at first, I didn't think construction was for me, but I'm really enjoying it.”
Appreciating her experience at Simpson Grierson she continues, "I feel for people who go to firms where you don't get that variety. We're all really lucky."
Is there anything that wasn’t included in the New Zealand law school curriculum that you think would benefit students?
“In hindsight, I thought it would have been beneficial to have a legal writing course. I felt that despite finishing a law degree, I still hadn't mastered legal writing."
After finishing your studies, how did you find the transition from education to practice?
"In some ways, I found it was like a breath of fresh air."
“It's really busy, but you have the office space and a team around you and you’re getting work done in a productive environment, one that lends itself to really focusing and bouncing off people alongside you.”
Are there any issues facing young lawyers in New Zealand and/or the New Zealand legal profession in general that you think need to be addressed?
"I think I've been really lucky because I've been in teams where everyone is flexible and have a healthy work/life balance.”
“I have many friends who have gone through other firms and really struggled due to working too many hours."
Sharing her thoughts on post-graduates finding work she says, "A lot of students at Uni aren't being prepared for the workforce."
Explaining that "...there are other skills outside of academics required in the workforce, and it is important to understand how to present and conduct yourself', and these things are largely neglected by the Universities."
I know you are quite involved in music and performing; do you find this a good way to disengage from work?
"When you go to rehearsals you get to see the other singers and hang out socially. Even though you’re working, it's fun, and a way to engage the other side of your brain."
A credited actress, Leila was cast as the lead in the 2016 New Zealand film Stars in her Eyes.
Later this year she will perform in the ensemble cast of the NZ Opera's production of Carmen.
Outside of her theatre and screen work, Leila is a keen swimmer and enjoys watching NRL; her favourite team is the North Queensland Cowboys.