Five minutes with… Charlotta Harpur, Heaney & Partners

by NZ Lawyer22 Oct 2014
Heaney & Partners associate Charlotta Harpur takes five minutes to tell us about what appalling issue New Zealand needs to address, and cruising in her 1957 Chevy Bel Air
What made you decide to become a lawyer?

I came into law quite by accident. I grew up in Sweden and never imagined doing what I do now. After travelling and working with horses for a while, I did a B Soc degree in the UK. I then landed a job as a paralegal for a large firm and law just felt ‘right’ so I went on to study a bit more and haven’t looked back since.

How long have you worked at Heaney & Partners for and what brought you to that position?
When I moved to New Zealand five years ago my first job was with Heaney & Co. When David Heaney QC and Susan Thodey formed Heaney & Partners last year I decided to continue working with them. With a background in civil litigation the firm’s focus on insurance law and local authority litigation was a good fit. I also liked the idea of joining a boutique firm with a family friendly focus. A bit of luck and a persistent recruitment agent helped too.

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Nelson Mandela – it would be amazing to meet such an inspirational leader and discuss his theories of conflict resolution.
Leonardo Da Vinci – I’d love to get his take on the modern world, and find out what inventions he could foresee for the future.
Madonna – a teenage idol and one of those women who has broken taboos and broken new ground in her field, (she could teach me some dance moves, too).

You’re based in Auckland – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
My place, beer and BBQ on the menu.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)?
Don’t fret over something at a time when you can’t do anything about it, but when you can do something about it, do it.

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I enjoy exploring the many regional parks around the country with family and camera in tow. In the summer months going cruising in my 1957 Chevy Bel Air with the family and a picnic basket (not sure that counts as a hobby though).

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A jockey, an academic, a pub owner, a writer or anything else that would have come my way at the right time.

If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
I would spend the morning talking to people who work to improve New Zealand’s appalling child poverty rate, and the afternoon drawing up policies to do more to tackle it. Another issue I feel strongly about is better paid and longer parental leave. It would be a busy day.

What do you love about your job?
My husband would say the fact that I get to argue a point of view for a living. I say working in developing areas of law which is challenging and exciting. Most of all though, the bright, talented and genuinely nice people I get to work with, both clients, colleagues and other lawyers.

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
An ‘out of office’ message on hot summer days that says ‘it is sunny, gone cruisin’. I’m still working on it…