Former Asia energy specialist appointed partner

by Hannah Norton25 Mar 2015
A New Zealand lawyer has swapped the bright lights and big deals of Singapore for the sunny beaches, and slightly smaller deals, of Tauranga – and has been made partner in the process.
Energy specialist Ken Hawkes will join the Holland Beckett partnership from next week.
He has recently returned to New Zealand after several years practising in the UK and Asia, notably the last 17 years in Singapore.

Hawkes specialises in the oil and gas and infrastructure areas, and has also advised on several wind power and geothermal energy projects, where he has extensive experience in relation to power industry markets, construction contracts and long term offtake arrangements.

His previous role was partner of White & Case and head of energy and project finance for Southeast Asia, where he advised clients on largest financings and energy projects in the region – regularly representing governments, project developers, lenders and equipment suppliers.
Originally a Tauranga local, Hawkes returned to the Bay of Plenty with his wife and three children, joining Holland Beckett in June last year as special counsel.
Speaking to NZLawyer, Hawkes said he was very pleased with his partnership appointment, which was announced this week.
“Coming back from overseas is never an easy transition, and the firm here have been very accommodating and very welcoming, and it has certainly made the transition easier for me.”
The key difference between working in Singapore and working in Tauranga has been the size and types of deals, he said.
“The practice of law is pretty universal, whether you are in a big city or a small city, but in a place like Tauranga, there really is the combination of the big and the small,” Hawkes told NZLawyer.
“There are a lot of big businesses here, like the Port of Tauranga, Trustpower, Zespri - in terms of New Zealand scale they are pretty big companies.”
But in Singapore, his practice solely revolved around investors and big operations that are regional in their investment opportunities, with a lot of work in places such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.
“On a daily basis, in Singapore, you are working cross-border. On a daily basis here, I am working across the street. You don’t have that width of practice, but it doesn’t mean that it is any less interesting or any less rewarding.”
The thing Hawkes is most looking forward to this year is getting involved with local business.
“There are a lot of start-up enterprises that are basing themselves in the Bay of Plenty and I’d really like to work increasingly with that entrepreneurial crowd, who are really providing quite a boost to the local economy.”
The single biggest challenge for New Zealand’s legal space this year was keeping pace with ongoing change, he said.
“New Zealand has always been a jurisdiction that goes through a lot of change. If you look internationally, the way business is done is often relatively static.
“In New Zealand, that is never the case. There is always something new here. You have got new things like the new securities legislation, new tax provisions. There is this need to stay up-to-date. So the biggest challenge is to stay relevant, and stay current – and to deal with this changing legal environment.”