NZ's great flag debate and miniature horse drama

by Samantha Woodhill14 Mar 2016
Five minutes with Chapman Tripp’s Bevan Miles.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?

A teacher at my high school (Rosmini College) encouraged me to do a Law/Commerce conjoint and give law a go – until then I was all ready to be an accountant.  Sitting in lectures about auditing, bored out of my brain, left me feeling very pleased I listened to him.
How long have you worked at Chapman Tripp and what brought you to this position?
I joined Chapman Tripp from ASB in October 2015.  After 8 years with ASB, 6 of those as head of tax for the NZ group, I had seen through a number of large projects and was ready for a new challenge.  An old work colleague convinced me Chapman Tripp was the right new challenge (and, while it generally pains me to admit he is right about anything, he does seem to be right this time).
What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I’m not sure I can properly say I “worked on” them, but the random phone calls from my sister asking for advice about the latest issue/argument to hit her miniature horse association would be up there (not aided by my general disinterest in miniature horses).  As far as tax law goes, not strange but most memorable was a trip to Barbados to visit a client’s branch office that the IRD had suggested didn’t exist.  Thankfully it did exist.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Martin Crowe is front of mind just at the moment.  I’m a huge cricket fan and feel privileged to have seen him bat, particularly at the 1992 World Cup.  He is one of the greats of the game for me. 
Any real cricket fan would also want Don Bradman at the dinner.
The third is difficult…  I’m tempted to say Viv Richards, but to break with the cricket theme maybe Jeremy Clarkson for some light relief.
You’re based in Auckland – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
Being married with two young-ish kids, the best place is often home…  However, for the few occasions I do manage to get out, Café Hanoi is a current favourite.  Try their coffee (yes, with the condensed milk) and ask for some ice with it.  Just as good as what we had in Vietnam.
What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?
“Assume makes an a** out of you and me”
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I try to play golf at my home course of Huapai and am on the board of trustees for a women’s golf charity. 
I used to play cricket but the body doesn’t cope with that any more so I now coach my 8 year old son’s team.
I love travel and have dragged the family to some pretty awesome places.  Russia with two young kids was much less of a challenge than we imagined and so good we have been twice.  Egypt (pre-kids) is another highlight.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
An accountant, having not listened to my teacher (see question 1).  My dream job would be a cricket commentator or, failing that, CEO of NZ Cricket.
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand  in 2016?
The impact that new technology has on the way our clients do business, what their customers expect and what they expect of us.
If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
Tell the country that John isn’t really in favour of the new flag at all and is in fact quite indifferent.  That way it might actually stand a chance of winning (yes, I firmly believe we should change and am disappointed – but not surprised – that the issue has become so politicised).
What do you love about your job?
The intellectual challenge of dealing with sometimes complex law, coupled with the opportunity to work with some great people.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
The commute into work.  Regularly over an hour, and sometimes close to an hour and a half at the moment.  A bit frustrating given we don’t live that far from the city – only a 15 min trip outside of peak times – and the public transport options aren’t great.