Five minutes with…Daniel Fielding, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts

by NZ Lawyer09 May 2014
Daniel Fielding is a commercial and public law solicitor at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, specialising in general employment, government contracting, private and public sector governance, as well as law reform processes, lobbying strategy… but he also had some intriguing responses to NZ Lawyer’s interview questions…

Tell us about working in John Key’s office – how did you land that job?
I think it was just one of those cases of being at the right place at the right time. Working in the Beehive was a great opportunity and a lot of fun. I’m passionate about public law, so working in that environment with ministers and members of parliament was fascinating. It also provided great training for becoming a lawyer: long hours, limited sleep and a healthy appreciation for caffeinated products.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?
It was a rather late decision on my part. Growing up I wanted to be an architect, but I eventually found the law through a love of history and politics and then moved down to Wellington to study it. What I really enjoy about being a lawyer is the creative “problem solving” element – helping clients find solutions. So kind of like a legal architect…right?   

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever been involved with?
Like working in politics, working as a lawyer means you accumulate some amazing work stories but you can’t share too many of them. The strangest one I’ve had recently involved a commercial deal that fell over because the parties got into a sledging match via social media.

If you could invite three people, dead or alive, for dinner, who would they be and why?
Given my enthusiasm for politics, one person would be Margaret Thatcher – she was the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th Century and the only woman to have held that office.
And given my love of history, Alexander the Great – purely just to compare notes. He had conquered most of the known world by age 30, so I still have time.
Lastly, Monty Python. I know technically they are a group – but the dinner conversation would be excellent. 

You’re based in Wellington – where’s the best place to go for a drink after work?
That’s a tough one – it's Wellington, and as the craft beer capital there are so many good places to choose from. But I’d have to say my local – the Kelburn village pub!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Does a quote from Yoda count? On a serious note it would be this advice: Keep dreaming – there is nothing wrong with having big dreams, but there is something terribly wrong with having no dreams at all.

Do you have any interests outside of work?
In terms of interests, when I’m not in the office I spend time getting involved with causes. One that I am particularly passionate about (and if you don’t mind I’m going to give a plug for) is Child Fund NZ. Child Fund NZ helps children living in developing countries move out of poverty. As a board member, it can be both heart-breaking and worth every minute – you see both the best and the worst of humanity.
Outside of that I am currently learning Mandarin (to the annoyance of those around me) and to keep active I run. I’m also a recent convert to RPM (spin class).   
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
007 – not really but I think that sounds pretty cool. Perhaps something involving international trade or international development.

If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do? (You should be better qualified than most to answer this one!)
You would think so, right! I don’t want any of the grey hairs that come with the job – not even just one day’s worth. But I’d get out there and meet people. That’s the one thing I really admire the PM for: he breaks down barriers and gets to know people. But I’d draw the line at having ‘selfies’ taken – his fans are out of control!  

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
Not much. I really enjoy my job and our firm’s culture, and the partners are great. Can I say throw away timesheets? The admin and six-minute time recording is the biggest downside to being a lawyer.

What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
Having a few too many drinks and waking up, not in my hotel room, but at a Turkish Baths in Northern Iraq (fully clothed).