Inspired by Springsteen and I, we begin a new series where we ask members of the legal profession 10 questions about their life and career.
Laura Harris grew up in Brisbane, Australia and studied law at the Queensland University of Technology. She graduated in 2013, took a break from law and moved to Tokyo. She eventually returned to Brisbane and completed her Professionals and was admitted to the Supreme Court in Queensland in March 2017 and to the High Court of New Zealand in April 2017. She practises law at Reids Family Law in Lower Hutt.
Why did you choose this area of law?
I chose to practise in Family Law because it is varied, and interesting. Each day is different, and there are always new problems and issues coming up that need to be resolved. You have to be creative with your solutions, and have good people skills to make the solutions stick.
If you were not working in law, what would be your alternative career be and why?
I would really love to own a small, quiet second hand bookshop where I could read all day and talk to people about books. Of course given the way the paperback industry is going I’d need a side business as well I think - maybe an Airbnb in Queenstown.
What case or proceeding sticks most in your mind?
I’m from Brisbane originally and transferred my practising certificate over. So it’s a bit mundane but Fletcher and McMillan is the one that springs to mind. I have had to do a lot of learning on the job since I started practising in New Zealand!
What do you love about your job and why?
I love the people I work with. It’s true that people can make or break a workplace, so I love that I get to have fun and have a good laugh with my colleagues. I’m the junior in the team so they give me really good support and supervision as well.
Is there anything you dislike about your work and why?
It’s really tough giving people realistic prospects about their care and contact with their children.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing New Zealand lawyers?
Technology. A few of our local lawyers are going electronic on files, and I think it’s definitely in the future of Court work. There’s just so much unnecessary paper waste at present, but I think it will be a big adjustment for most lawyers to step out of the paper comfort zone.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a lawyer?
Making sure that my practice doesn’t leak into my personal life, and that I have a good work/personal life balance.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in relation to practising law?
Be prepared. My boss always tells me that there’s no substitute for preparation.
Lawyers are often described as workaholics. Is that you? How do you switch off?
I definitely try to not work on the weekends but sometimes it’s unavoidable! I switch off by reading, and playing with my Norwegian Forest Cats – Luna and Hermione. They’re pretty good therapists.
Where is the most exotic place you have been to for a holiday? Tell us about it.
I’d have to say Nepal. It’s a pretty fascinating country, and there was a big culture shock at first. I went hiking in the Himalayas for 10 days while I was there, and it was incredible.