Practising law can be very rewarding, regardless of where you work. Just as there are particular attractions and rewards for those practising in the big cities, there are particular rewards and benefits for those who work in the regions.
A good proportion of New Zealand’s lawyers work outside the four main cities of Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton and Wellington (including the Hutt Valley). In fact 2,721, or 23.2%, of this country’s practising lawyers are based outside these main centres.
An even bigger percentage, 35.6%, of New Zealand law firms can be found outside those four cities.
In this issue of LawTalk, we feature a snapshot of what it is like working as a lawyer in one of the regions – Taranaki.
The dairy industry probably comes to the minds of most New Zealanders when they think about Taranaki, and this – along with agriculture generally – is an important aspect for many lawyers in our district. So, too, is the oil and gas industry, which is the biggest contributor to Taranaki’s GDP.
Over recent years I have heard or read the words “work-life balance” frequently. One of the many appeals of working outside our four main population centres is that lawyers often find a preferable work-life balance. But that is just one of the attractions.
Diversity of practice is another. Quite often, too, there is an opportunity to specialise in one area of law while spending some time in general practice areas.
In my experience, and the experience of many others I have spoken to, working in the regions can provide a lawyer, particularly a younger lawyer, with exposure to a higher level of work compared with the colleagues they know who work in the four big cities. While that is not, of course, always the case, it does happen frequently.
There is also something about collegiality in smaller centres that has a different quality. It shows in very many ways, again quite differently to the big city environment.
Interestingly, one of the reasons I have come to call Taranaki home – and the place I definitely prefer to practise – came about because of the compulsory “country service” that used to be a feature of teaching in New Zealand. My father was a teacher and undertook his “country service” near Stratford.
But there is anything but a compulsory aspect to my choice. I practise in Taranaki because that is my choice. There’s no other way I would like it to be.