New Zealand Law Society - Ten Questions: Amy Adams, Justice Minister

Ten Questions: Amy Adams, Justice Minister

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Amy Adams
Amy Adams

Educated at Rangitoto College in Auckland and Canterbury University law school, Amy Adams was a partner with Mortlock McCormack Law in Christchurch, specialising in commercial and property law, before she entered politics. She is a previous member of the Canterbury District Law Society's property law committee, the NZLS's Women's Consultative Group and the Institute of Directors prior to becoming MP for Selwyn in 2008. Amy retained the Selwyn seat in 2011 and 2014, and has since joined National's front bench as the Minister of Justice, Minister for Courts, Minister of Broadcasting and Minister for Communications. 

1. Why did you choose law as a career?

It was something I had decided 'sounded like me' from an early age. Probably a result of all those teachers telling me I could argue the leg of a table. Add in the myth of shows like "The Paper Trail" and "LA Law" and I was convinced law was for me.

2. Do you still feel that way?

As all lawyers know, the practise of law is very different from both the glamour depicted in TV shows and from the trials and tribulations of law school. And the early years of practise, in particular, can be very hard.  Nevertheless I found I enjoyed the practise of law, particularly the ability to help people and businesses find solutions, incredibly fulfilling. Like most jobs it is the people you work with that you remember most and I was lucky enough to work with some fantastic people over the years.

3. What is the one thing that has given you most satisfaction in your career?

I could talk about particular outcomes but really it would be the relationships formed, both with clients, partners and professional contacts.

4. What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a lawyer?

Wow – that's hard to narrow down to one that stood out from all the others.  Probably balancing work and raising family.

5. What advice would you give to someone considering studying law?

Firstly, that it is a great degree, not only for those that want to practise but as an entry into many areas, although my view is generally that even a couple of years of practise will stand you in very good stead even if that isn't the long term career path of choice. Secondly, to be aware that you will spend plenty of time during the degree and in the early years doubting yourself and your ability to be successful, but to understand that that is perfectly normal and anyone not feeling that is probably over-confident.

6. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing New Zealand lawyers?

Talent retention in the profession, and maintaining high professional standards. It can be a rewarding career but also a demanding one and as a profession we still lose too many good people (particularly women). For those in practise, ensuring there is a consistently high standard amongst all practitioners is incredibly important but not always given high enough priority.

7. What do you enjoy doing outside lawyering?

Well, I'm not 'lawyering' anymore, but outside my professional life, 'bliss' is probably an early night with a good book and a nice red wine. 

8. What music do you listen to?

My music taste can only be described as eclectic. My playlists include just about every genre from pop to classical, rap to country and R&B to rock.

9. What are you reading at the moment?

Sadly, The Character of Harms by Malcolm Sparrow – sad because it is about new ways of thinking about how we regulate to prevent societal harms. I really need to get out more!

10. The best movie and TV shows I've seen?

Once more displaying what a political junkie I am, best TV show would have to be "House of Cards" and going back in time, "The West Wing".  Movies – don't get too many, but I can't resist a good chick-flick, so probably something like "Thelma and Louise".

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