Five minutes with…Annabel Sheppard, Wynn Williams

by NZ Lawyer01 Sep 2014
Wynn Williams partner and board member Annabel Sheppard tells us about why she was almost an accountant, and why clients nowadays have higher expectations. 
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I initially planned to look for a job as an accountant having done a Commerce Degree at the same time as my Law Degree.  However in my final year at university, I had an interview which resulted in a job offer with Wynn Williams.  I decided to take the legal route and accepted  the job, the rest, as they say, is history. In reality I became a lawyer by default rather than having a set clear intention to become one.
How long have you worked at Wynn Williams for and what brought you to that position?
I joined Wynn Williams at the end of 1992 and I have continued with the same firm for my entire legal career.  I have now spent over 21 years with the firm and during this time I have progressed to be a Partner and also a member of our Board.  As our firm has expanded, I have enjoyed the variety in work and I enjoy leading our Private Client and Rural Team.
What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
Although not the strangest case, the most memorable and challenging case I have been involved with is acting for the Cranmer Court Body Corporate after the residential complex was damaged as a result of the earthquakes. It was very rewarding managing to finally reach unanimous agreement with all the owners in relation to their earthquake issues and ultimately achieving the sale of their property.  It was challenging dealing with 31 unit owners with different viewpoints. It was disappointing that the  historical facade of this complex was not able to be preserved but in the end the final sale enabled the clients to move on after what had been quite a stressful and problematic time for them.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who
would they be and why?
Graham Norton - to provide the entertainment.
Simon Gault -because I cannot cook and he can provide the dinner.
Robbie Deans - because he was my hero when I was a teenager (if he isn't available then I would be quite happy to have Daniel Craig parked in the corner).
You’re based in Christchurch – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or   dinner after
Kookai - a wonderful Japanese Restaurant.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
Do not take yourself too seriously. Make sure you take enough holidays.
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
Running (or at my slow pace more accurate to say plodding), watching my boys sport and reading.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
An Olympic Class Shopper.
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand in 2014?
The increasing demands with technology which means that you can in theory be available 24 hours a day.  This has resulted in higher expectations from clients as to timeframes for turnaround of work.  It is important to ensure that you still maintain a balance and the ability to switch off.
If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
Ban Guy Fawkes celebrations and instead allow fireworks celebrations to coincide with Matariki.
What do you love about your job?
The variety of work that my client base provides.  In Christchurch in recent years it has been particularly satisfying helping people resolve their property issues so they can move forward and put their earthquake
and property dilemmas behind them. It is exciting to play a small part in Christchurch's rebuild. 
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
Nothing.  I have a fabulous team that work with me and I enjoy the culture and atmosphere of our firm.