Megan Richards heads up Minter Ellison Rudd Watts’ Employment team in Wellington and Auckland. She talks to NZ Lawyer
about cajoling colleagues into RPM cycling classes, her favourite butcher in Karori and why it’s important for lawyers to genuinely care about their clients…
NZ Lawyer: How long have you worked with Minter Ellison Rudd Watts and what brought you to the firm?
Megan Richards: I’ve been with MERW for over 13 years now. Before that I worked in a large London law firm for four years and I have also worked in two other law firms in Australia and NZ. On my return to NZ, one of my best friends suggested I come to MERW (then Rudd Watts & Stone) so we could work together – which I did. I was recruited by Susan Thomas (now Justice Thomas in the High Court). I also met my husband-to-be at MERW so coming here was one of my best decisions!
If you had to name one thing that makes a successful lawyer, what would it be?
Caring about others – our firm’s mantra is “Listen, Care, Deliver” – it sounds simple but it’s really important to us. You need to genuinely care about your clients in order to do your best for them.
What’s the most interesting/challenging case you’ve ever worked on?
One where an employer announced that its most senior employee, who had been with the organisation for over 30 years, would be retiring in a couple of months and the replacement would be X...there was a bit of a problem… the ‘exiting’ employee had no prior knowledge of this! It eventually worked out in the end but required strategic advice and careful risk management.
You’re based in Wellington – what’s one thing most people don’t know about the nation’s capital?
Just how amazing our food and coffee is – like the delicious meals, treats and coffee at Gipp Street Deli and the great butcher next door in Karori. It's all you need!
What are your hobbies outside of work?
RPM classes (cycling) at Les Mills, swimming and watching my two boys playing soccer and hockey. I regularly drag others in my team (and in other teams) to RPM with me at lunchtime!
Beer, wine or coffee?
Coffee and wine – not necessarily in that order!
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the employment legal space in New Zealand in 2014?
Changes in our health and safety laws and improving our record of injuries and fatalities at work. Many people assume that health and safety is solely the employer’s responsibility but employees and others in the workplace have a critical role to play as well (and legal obligations).
If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
Invite the All Blacks and Black Caps to my sons’ school so all the children can meet them and have their photos taken! The PM could be there too…
Finish this sentence: If I weren’t a lawyer, I would be…
A Vet. I did sciences and maths all through secondary school, worked as a Vet Nurse in the holidays, enrolled for a Veterinary Science degree at Massey, and then changed my mind at the last minute to study law at Vic. My family were very disappointed as we have far too many lawyers already and the prospect of having free medical treatment for all our dogs was quite exciting for them.
What do you love most about your job?
We have the best work stories ever. But we usually can’t share them!