Billion dollar irrigation deals and Dynamo for dinner

by Miklos Bolza22 Feb 2016
Steve Gallaugher, Partner (subject to satisfying NZ Law Society requirements) at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts talks to NZ Lawyer about billion dollar irrigation deals, New Zealand public holidays and Robin Williams.
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
It was more by accident than design.  After a GAP year in Scotland, I completed a BCom/LLB degree at Auckland University to keep my options open.  I guess it was during my summer-internship at Bell Gully when I first realised the law profession might be for me.
How long have you worked at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts and what brought you to this position?
I joined Minter Ellison Rudd Watts in 2011 after a 5 year stint with Clifford Chance in London.  I chose MERW on the back of glowing recommendations from friends and colleagues back in New Zealand.  The clincher for me was its strong banking team.
What’s the most memorable deal you’ve ever been involved with?
I worked on financing Stage 1 of the Central Plains Water Irrigation Project.  This project is a community irrigation scheme in which run-of-river water from the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers, supported by stored water from Lake Coleridge, is used to irrigate 60,000 hectares of farmland in the Canterbury Plains.  It is estimated that, once completed, the project will deliver wider economic benefits of approximately $1.4b per annum.  The Stage 1 financing won the 2014 INFINZ Debt Deal of the year, reflecting the project’s financial importance and legal complexity.  Personally it felt good to be part of a great “NZ Inc.” story.
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Arsene Wenger – so I could talk all night about the Arsenal Football Club.
Robin Williams – to keep everyone laughing.
Dynamo – for his magical brilliance.
Where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work in Auckland?
Vultures’ Lane is a great place to catch up and sample a few craft beers.  Baduzzi is always fun for a group dinner.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
Listen, Care , Deliver (MERW’s unofficial motto)
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
My 3 kids (aged 1 to 5) keep me busy at the moment.  I’m currently training for a sprint triathlon to improve my fitness. 
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
  1. (60% chance)  in the finance industry;
  2. (20% chance)  a teacher;
  3. (15% chance)  alternating seasons between snowboard and scuba-dive instructing; or
  4. (5% chance)  a high-country sheep farmer (it looks spectacular on Country Calendar).
If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
  1. Fund a national sports stadium on the Auckland Waterfront.
  2. Declare a new public holiday for Matariki.  It would give us something to look forward to in the middle of winter.
What do you love about your job?
The buzz of working with a team to close complicated financing deals with tight deadlines, especially when some thinking outside the square is required.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
The long and unpredictable hours.