An Aucklander born and bred, with Lebanese and Danish heritage, Lena attended Diocesan School for Girls before moving on to study at the University of Auckland. She graduated with double degrees: a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in education and sociology, and an LLB.
Upon graduating, Lena was admitted to the bar in 2013.
"I am currently a solicitor at Fee Langstone where my practice is commercial and insurance litigation and dispute resolution."
When did you realise that you wanted to be a lawyer?
Lena says she developed a passion for the law while in school.
"I've wanted to be a lawyer from a young age after asking to go to court to see what it was all about. Going along to check it out confirmed my aspirations to become a lawyer."
What do enjoy most about being a lawyer?
Like a lot of young lawyers I've spoken too, problem solving is something that interests Lena. She enjoys striving to reach the best outcomes for her clients.
"It is satisfying being able to help people … I enjoy a variety of files that come across my desk and continually developing knowledge across different areas - no two days are the same."
Is there anything you wish you learnt in law school that wasn't covered, either in study or practically?
"Someone once told me that law school teaches you how to learn and the true practical skills are learned in practice. I entirely agree with this as there is no substitute for practical experience, even if at times it is by osmosis."
This is a verse echoed by young lawyers I have previously interviewed, no matter what university they attended; school was for learning the way and upon graduating, you practise what you've learnt, even if it is a bit of a shock initially.
After finishing study, did you find the job matched the expectations you had in school?
"Yes and no… My experience has exceeded my initial expectations of what I thought being a lawyer was like – it is awesome being able to help make a difference."
Lena, like a lot of young lawyers, enjoys the practical application of the law. She has learnt the distinction between "the gravity of decision-making and advice given to clients, as opposed to simply 'giving advice or an opinion' which is what is primarily studied at university."
Can you tell me about anyone who inspires you?
"I love meeting new people throughout the profession. I am constantly inspired by senior practitioners who are approachable and happy to give time and guidance to newer members of the profession."
A lot of younger lawyers look up to peers of their own age and also to those in senior positions. Each one I have asked this question of has shared how they are constantly learning from their senior work colleagues, who are also more than willing to teach, while also drawing inspiration from their younger peers and friends whom they studied with and work alongside.
Are there any issues currently facing young lawyers that you'd like to highlight?
"Stress levels are something experienced throughout all levels of the profession and ensuring (and maintaining) a work/life balance is extremely important."
This is a widely acknowledged issue amongst young lawyers and the ones I have interviewed are happy to discuss it. They mention the importance their senior peers place on mental and emotional well being and it is great to see that it is a topic people feel they can have an open dialogue on now and not burn out silently.
What are your favourite books/musicians/movies/hobbies?
"My friends would say that I have a totally eclectic taste in music – I like everything from the eighties and nineties, anything karaoke-able and good bit of hip hop and R'n'B."
She continues, "the last two concerts I went to were Fleetwood Mac and the Laneway Festival."
"I'm into racquet sports and yoga. I like going to the theatre and art exhibitions, and watching a good movie or documentary."
Angharad O'Flynn is a Wellington journalist who is finding some common themes and aspirations among the new lawyers she has spoken to around New Zealand.