Five Minutes With…Sue Brown, DLA Phillips Fox

by NZ Lawyer11 Aug 2014
What made you decide to become a lawyer? Sheer bolshiness in the first place - my careers teacher thought that as a girl, I should become a teacher or a nurse (this was a long time ago bear in mind!) so I cast around for something that defied his expectations and came up with ‘being a solicitor’.  That spur of the moment pig-headedness was rewarded by finding myself studying a subject that was both intellectually stimulating and absolutely practical and has given me a life time of employment!
How long have you worked at DLA Phillips Fox and what brought you to that position? I joined DLA Phillips Fox most recently on 1 July this year, but my association with the firm goes back way before then – beginning when I joined the firm that became DLA Piper (the world’s largest law firm) in the UK as a trainee solicitor and including time as a partner with DLA in both our Sydney and Auckland offices.  When I decided it was time for me to re-join private practice (after a stint as a senior leader at the Financial Markets Authority) I knew the firm’s pragmatic and business-focussed approach and global alliance with DLA Piper made it the right one for me.
 What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with? I think I’ve scarcely worked on two cases that are the same – so they’ve all been strange in their own ways!
 If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends,
 who would they be and why?  Thomas Cromwell (I’m reading Wolf Hall at the moment – he could certainly give us some insight into using the law to his client’s advantage!) Martin Luther King (for obvious reasons) and Gregory Goodwin Pincus (I’d like to ask him if he guessed the impact the contraceptive pill he invented would have on women’s lives) – an eclectic group and probably not a lot of laughs, but all made a massive difference to the way the world is today in such very different ways…
You’re based in Wellington – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work? From our offices in Wellington you can walk out of the building in any direction and into a great place to drink and eat within minutes – why pick only one!  But Foxglove is in a great location for a relaxing after work drink and snack or meal.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given (work or personal)? “Do as you would be done by” – I think my mother said it, but it holds true in every situation – work or professional.   
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work? I run, do the occasional triathlon (in both cases very slowly) and read novels (very quickly).
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be… Helping my daughter Grace (Kreft – corporate lawyer turned cake maker) in her business Sweet Bakery & Cakery but trying not to eat too many cakes.  
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand in 2014? For law firms, finding innovative ways of providing targeted client services that add value to our clients’ businesses and still provide a reasonable rate of return for the firms.
If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do? Take a really bold step towards addressing the real causes of child poverty in NZ…
What do you love about your job? Finding practical solutions to complex problems.  Plus my clients, partners, colleagues, other lawyers, administrators, regulators – we’re in a people business and fortunately I’m a people person.
What would you change about your job right now if you could? Wouldn’t change a thing – I’m delighted to be doing what I’m doing right here, right now! But then again, perhaps I wouldn’t miss daily timesheets…