Advice to suck it up and Aretha Franklin for dinner

by NZ Lawyer04 Apr 2016
Russell McVeagh partner Kylie Dunn tells NZ Lawyer what brought her to lawyering at Russell McVeagh.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?
My standard 3 teacher told me that I was smart enough to be a doctor or a lawyer.  I can't stand the sight of blood, so lawyer it was.  I haven't waivered since.

How long have you worked at Russell McVeagh and what brought you to this position?
I began my career at Russell McVeagh as a summer clerk in the summer of 2001/2002, and then returned as a graduate in 2003.  I like to think that I didn't choose Russell McVeagh, it chose me - it was the only summer clerkship I was offered.  But right from my very first day, I realised I had found a place where I belonged and  have stayed at Russell McVeagh because I love the work and the collegial environment. 

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I specialise in employment and health and safety law and there is no shortage of strange and unusual things that people will get up to at work.A stand-out was an employee who was fired for breaking into his employer's carpark and trashing his own car.It made for some interesting cross examination!
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Aretha Franklin - I saw her in concert in Nashville last year and she was absolutely phenomenal.  I'm sure she would have some stories from the road to tell, and if not, she could always sing for us...
Stephen Fry - basically the smartest and funniest person I can think of.  He makes intelligence cool.
Waimarama Taumanu - former Silver Fern defender and my childhood idol.  Whenever I need to steel myself for something, I remember how she used to put off Australian shooters with a glance. 
You’re based in Auckland – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
It's a toss up between Xuxu on Galway St for cocktails and dumplings (close to work) or Dida's on Jervois Rd for wine and tapas (close to home).
What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?
"Suck it up" - courtesy of Kath Petrie, a mentor and friend.  In short, if you love what you do, you should be grateful for the opportunity to do it, even during the tougher times.
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I enjoy socialising with friends and family and I'm the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of my old school (Carmel College in Milford), which keeps me busy.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A teacher, although I seriously lack the patience to be a success in that field!  Otherwise, I would be a detective.  I've always loved murder mysteries and secretly think I might have a hidden crime solving talent.
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand in 2016?
The use of technology in smart, thoughtful ways which add to the service we are able to offer clients, rather than creating more work.  As court processes move away from hard copies towards electronic documents there is real potential for greater flexibility and more effective use of evidence, provided the right systems are in place.
If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
Boring I know, but I would completely rewrite the Holidays Act.  How can something that should be so straightforward be so unnecessarily complicated!
What do you love about your job?
That a lot of what I do is urgent and time sensitive.  Every day I come to work with a plan about what I intend to accomplish, and every day something crops up that I hadn't planned for - whether it's a strike, a health and safety incident or an urgent disciplinary matter.  I love the fact that I never really know for sure what I'm going to be doing from one tday to the next.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
An instruction from the New Zealand Olympic team that required my attendance in Rio de Janeiro during August 2016...