Lincoln Matthews grew up in Wellington, attending Wellington College before heading off to university.
“I did quite a range of subjects at school through to year 13 to keep my options open as I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next.
“I really enjoyed economics and so decided to continue with that at university, and then opted last minute to 'tag on' law as something extra to try out.
“I ultimately found law more interesting and challenging, and so my focus shifted to that as I progressed through university. I completed my bachelor of commerce and bachelor of law at the end of 2014.”
When and why did you decide to work in the legal profession?
In his second to last year at university, Lincoln applied for summer clerkships and says “I didn't really know what to expect, or even much about what being an actual lawyer meant, but I was offered a position at Simpson Grierson and took it, and here I am!”
“The summer clerkship was a really good opportunity to 'give it a go' and learn a huge amount, both skills and about how a law firm operates, and I decided that I wanted to continue on that path.”
You work in the commercial law field. Why this speciality?
While summer clerking and during his graduate year, Lincoln experienced work in a variety of areas working in the property, litigation, local government and environmental teams; He ultimately settled on commercial law.
“I found that the commercial team had a good mix of the types of things I'd enjoyed in completing my commerce degree and the types of things I'd enjoyed in completing my law degree – the best of both worlds!”
Is there a subject that wasn't included in the New Zealand law school curriculum during your time studying that you think would benefit students if it was?
“I think that a greater focus on plain English and good writing style and structure would have helped.
“The style of writing expected when providing written legal advice is quite different to that you get used to at university. A greater emphasis on writing for clients rather than for lecturers would have put me a step ahead when starting work.”
After finishing your studies, how did you find the transition from education to practice?
“The first thing I found was that there was (and is) a whole lot more to learn! It has been challenging, I have learned a lot, and enjoy being able to work with people who have lots of experience to pass on."
Are there any issues facing young New Zealand lawyers, or our legal profession in general, that you think need to be addressed?
“I think that equal access to the law and to good legal advice is important.”
Junior lawyers at Simpson Grierson’s Wellington office take turns volunteering at the Wellington Community Law Centre; so Lincoln has some hands-on experience with the access-to-justice struggles faced by those seeking help and advice at the region's Law Centre.
“Often it is the people without means to access legal advice (financially, but also practically – knowing how and where to access assistance) that need it the most," he says.
“Having organisations that can provide good quality, affordable and understandable guidance and support, and legal institutions that are inclusive and that don't impose actual or perceived barriers to participation, are key to ensuring everyone gets a fair go.”
You’re quite involved with Wellington football…
“I’ve played since I was 5 (and still do) and then got into coaching and administration, at Waterside Karori AFC. The club is the largest in Wellington with about 900 members (junior and senior).”
In his down time, Lincoln coordinates and leads the Karori AFC club's Saturday morning football programme for 5 to 8 year-olds, “…which involves about 200 kids over three hours on Saturday mornings.”
On top of that, he and a law school friend initiated and lead the Swifts Talent Centre, which is the club's high-performance programme for children aged 8 to 17 who want to play competitively.
Needless to say, football is a big part of Lincoln’s life and around 150 players and 15 coaches around Wellington benefit from his passion for the sport.
Do you find this is a good way to disengage from your work?
“It certainly keeps me busy!”
“I've found football has been a great way to meet people – both from the professional world and also outside the circle of people I would otherwise interact with.”
“I've also been able to work closely with some really switched on and passionate people, it has provided me with the chance to develop a broad range of skills, and of course it is heaps of fun. I feel I have achieved some really great things over the last few years which is rewarding!”
Aside from football, what other hobbies do you have?
“I do a bit of mountain biking, spend time with family (I have a large extended family) and like to do a few hands-on things.”
Lincoln recently completed building a two-thirds scale Type 35 Bugatti 1930's race car which he uses for soapbox derby racing.
“I also like to travel, and have managed to get away on a few trips over the past few years to South America, Africa and, at the start of this year, back to South America again (Colombia and Ecuador). Central America is next on the list!”