Anderson Lloyd senior associate Taryn Gudmanz tells us about her serendipitous entry into the profession, and a “hilarious” phase where she raced her terriers in A&P shows
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
Serendipity. I went to university fresh off the boat from South Africa, and embarked on a commerce degree with the aim of changing the world of business. I had to do a "legal environment of business" paper in my first year, and decided pretty quickly that it was far more interesting than my commerce papers. And so I started my LL.B in my second year.
How long have you worked at Anderson Lloyd and what brought you to that position?
I've been here for about 2.5 years now. It was a tough decision to move firms, but I was missing the exposure to the larger firm environment. There looked to be good opportunities to do more complex litigation for larger clients, which was pretty attractive.
What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I was undertaking what seemed to be normal debt recovery work for a client, repossessing assets. But it soon became clear that this was no ordinary repossession. We had anonymous telephone tip-offs leading us to year-old American muscle cars, abandoned at rural petrol stations (with keys in ignition). I had a road trip through the Coromandel with two PIs chasing assets, where we couldn't get through on one road because of ice! We got an Anton Piller order that entitled us to enter a private home to search for documents, which was a very unnerving experience. We located a boat that we were looking for pursuant to a seizure order, but had to wait a day to remove it, during which time it was taken and hidden. That resulted in a trip to Mt Eden prison for the person who removed it on contempt of court charges. The end result was 110 fraud charges, all of which were, I think, successful.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Heston Blumenthal could attend on the basis that he could provide dinner and a key talking point for us. And then, since they're topical – the new Mr & Mrs George Clooney. George seems like he'd add a bit of spark to the evening, and Amal Alamuddin has an interesting practice which has introduced her to a wide range of people, so she should have plenty of tales to entertain us with.
You’re based in Dunedin – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
Pequeno is hidden away, cosy, has a great wine and cocktail selection and a resident dog to pat at the front door. You won't get a full meal, but there are plenty of food options a short stumble away.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
If you don't ask, you don't get.
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I'm outrageously boring! We did go through a phase last summer of racing our terriers at a couple of local A&P Shows, which was hilarious. The Upper Clutha A&P Show is (of course) the pinnacle, and so March 2015 might be a big month.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
Maybe a travel writer? In an ideal world, where I was paid a lot of money, had control over when I went and also control over where, so that I could travel with my husband and friends, and stop over to visit friends and family who live in far-flung places. In the real world? Perhaps CEO of a mid-sized company, where I could effect change without becoming bogged down with procedures.
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand in 2014?
While it's not a space that I practise in, the legal aid situation appears to be fraught.
If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
Find out exactly what the GCSB does know. Of course, then I wouldn't be able to tell anyone…
What do you love about your job?
The challenge. Every day brings something new; I get to build long-term relationships with repeat clients and also meet new clients and personalities and learn about how they and their organisations tick, every fact pattern is different and the issues thrown up are different. Even if the legal issues appear to be the same, the surrounding circumstances might dictate a different approach. There's no room for a "tick box" approach.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
If I could download thoughts from my brain directly to my computer, that would be brilliant. My "to do" list would be consistently and completely up-to-date, all of my appointments would be there instantaneously once they were talked about, and I would have great skeleton pleadings and submissions just sitting there, waiting to be filled in.