Fatherly advice and Bono for dinner

by NZ Lawyer30 May 2016
Five minutes with Russell McVeagh senior associate Troy Pilkington.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I tried my hand at being an accountant when I first left university - but quickly realised the world of words was more my thing than the world of numbers, ledgers and double entry journals.  Plus growing up I always had plenty to say, so I was constantly told I should be a lawyer one day.

How long have you worked at Russell McVeagh and what brought you to this position?
I've just ticked over nine years in the competition law team here at Russell McVeagh.

I was introduced to the firm by a serendipitous encounter with Alan Paterson (a Russell McVeagh partner) in a bar on the day I retired from accounting - he suggested over a beer that I would enjoy working with Sarah Keene and the competition law team and I haven’t looked back since.

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I wouldn't necessarily classify them as strange, but some of the global cartel/price fixing investigations and prosecutions we have acted on are certainly fascinating - including travelling overseas to conduct witness interviews (sometimes via a translator) and coordinating with lawyers in a number of other countries where the same conduct is being investigated. 

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Rosa Parks, Bono, and Thomas Bingham (Lord Bingham of Cornhill).

Rosa Parks because she had the courage to stand-up (or rather not stand-up) in the face of inequality, which I find inspirational.

Bono because he thinks, acts, and sings about the world in a different way - focusing on the spiritual side of the world, which we often ignore, to our detriment, in our day-to-day hustle and bustle. Plus he's Irish - so he I reckon he'd be good craic at a dinner party.

Thomas Bingham because his work on the history of human rights law, and the rule of law is fascinating, and it's important to be reminded that we should never take those aspects of our society for granted - they were forged over centuries and there are plenty of countries that still don't have those luxuries today.

You’re based in Auckland – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
Pilkingtons.  Mainly because I like to think it is named after me, but also because it’s the closest bar to Russell McVeagh, and has a good vibe for after work drinks.

What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?
It was advice courtesy of my wonderful, but sadly late, father:  "Listen more than you talk - you already know about yourself, so life is more interesting that way."

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
Number one is spending time with my wife and two wee daughters - in particular finding the latest and greatest toddler playgrounds around Auckland (especially the ones that also have slides that can fit men in their thirties!).

I'm also an avid futsal (South American 5-a-side football) player - my skills certainly don't reach the levels of my passion, but it's a great cardio work-out packed into 30 minutes and certainly gets the endorphins going.

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
...a broadcaster.  As a child, I always had my eye on Paul Holmes' job.  Come to think of it - the key role of a broadcaster is very similar to a lawyer - uncover the facts and communicate them to your audience in a way that is relevant, engaging, and digestible.

What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand in 2016?
Probably the same as the key issues facing almost every other industry in New Zealand at the moment - digital disruption.  We need to continue to rethink how we deliver legal services to ensure we remain relevant as technology increasingly performs tasks that used to be manual.

If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
Take a world leading position on climate change issues.  The reform options may be economically unattractive in the short term, but the long term alternatives for our children and grandchildren are too grim if we don't act now.

What do you love about your job?
What I enjoy about my job is that no two cases are the same and we get a huge amount of variety - from global cartel prosecutions, through to M&A transactions and joint ventures.   As a competition lawyer we need to thoroughly understand the competitive dynamics of the industries our clients operate in.  I love the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of a whole new industry every couple of weeks.

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
I'd love to have a couple of more hours in each day to do non-legal things - I've got 50,000 ideas whirling around in my head that I never have time to pursue.