Five minutes with…Neil Russ, Buddle Findlay

by NZ Lawyer17 Nov 2014
The leader of Buddle Findlay’s tax practice Neil Russ tells NZ Lawyer  about his serendipitous entry into the profession, and puts out a call for interest in his 1972 Series 2A Land Rover.
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I met a great lawyer, John Nankervis ("Nank"), through skiing and climbing. He inspired me to switch from a science degree to law. I found the lack of precision and predictability of law a real challenge – not like maths, chemistry and biology at all! The great thing was that a few years after that Nank moved my admission to the Bar, and eventually I ended up in partnership with him at Buddle Findlay.

How long have you worked at Buddle Findlay for and what brought you to that position?
I started at Buddle Findlay in 1986, moving to the (then) newly opened Auckland office in 1987. After a six-year stint with Clifford Chance in London, and with a young son, I joined Buddle Findlay as a partner in 1995. I was attracted by the quality and breadth of the firm's practice, and by the great people here.

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would
they be and why?
Tough question! James May for his humour and geekiness, Aung San Suu Kyi for her resilience and ability to create real political change through negotiation and compromise, and Lord Denning because his book "The Discipline of Law" had a big impact on me when I was considering studying law, and because of his huge effect on the development of the law.

You're based in Auckland – where's the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
For dinner, I have a soft spot for Euro – it is a great venue in summer, and the food is consistently excellent.  For a drink, the deck at home, with family.

What's the best advice you've ever been given (work or personal)?
"You'll rust out before you wear out" – which I interpret to mean – keep busy, work hard and play hard!

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
Plenty! The whole family is into sport, and I enjoy triathlon, golf, fishing, hunting, mountain biking and skiing. I also have too many cars (does anyone out there want a 1972 Series 2A Land Rover?)

Complete this sentence:  If I wasn't a lawyer, I would be …
A marine biologist. But Nank changed all that!

If you had John Key's job for one day, what would you do?
Announce a modest reduction in income tax rates, across the board, and index marginal rates to the CPI.

What do you love about your job?
Every day is different, and every day is exciting. I work with an amazing team, and we combine good humour with an intense pride in delivering effective solutions for our clients.

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
I would like to get home to the family a little earlier, and to do more travelling.