What made you decide to become a lawyer?
Finding solutions is what gets me out of bed in the morning, so a legal career was the clearest path for me to be able to do that every day.
How long have you worked at your firm for and what brought you to this position?
I have just set up my new firm, Vicki Ammundsen Trust Law (which opened on 1 April). New Zealand has more trusts per head of capita than anywhere else in the world and yet far too many of our trustees and beneficiaries are entirely ignorant or unaware of their rights and obligations.
What brought me to start this firm was the wish to build a practice where we can provide our clients with a more accessible total legal experience tailored to what they need, when they need it. Our focus will be on information accessibility, education and proactive trust and beneficiary management while ensuring the other aspects of legal service are maintained for the benefit of all our clients.
What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I think the strangest cases are those where our clients mislead us for fear of how we would deal with the true facts.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Thomas Keller (The French Laundry) to prepare, and to share, the meal and to discuss his food philosophies.
Agatha Christie, to find out what really happened during her disappearance.
Donovan Waters, a leading trust jurist and an incredible speaker for intellectual stimulation.
You’re based in Auckland – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
The Crew Club, relaxed and completely harbour front.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
Read and publish - both from Denham Martin who was my first employer.
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I own a vineyard in the Far North with my husband and so both food and wine are huge drivers outside of the office.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand in 2015?
I can see Anti-Money Laundering / Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) looming in the headlights during 2015. It will take some client education to ensure that firms are protecting themselves and clients are aware of the changes in regulation and how they could be affected.
If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
I would make basic legal education a core curriculum subject so that young people leave school with some basic knowledge of contract law, trust law, tenancy agreements, employment law and relationship property law.
No one is taught basic legal knowledge unless they are going into law, but we all interact with contracts and agreements nonetheless, so it would be hugely beneficial to at least understand at what point you should seek out further advice.
What do you love about your job?
The variety: Trust law is extraordinarily dynamic; and my staff (of course)!]
What would you change about your job right now if you could?