Running in Hagley Park and Afghan embassies

by NZ Lawyer23 May 2016
Five minutes with Mark Orman, senior associate at Anthony Harper.
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
A profession seemed sensible; but I'm rubbish with number crunching, can't design anything amazing and don't like hospitals.So law it was, by elimination. It also seemed a safe bet given the huge choice of different practice areas and even other fields where the skills can take you.
How long have you worked at Anthony Harper and what brought you to this position?
Nearly four years.After a long OE, and acquiring a family along the way, I came back to NZ to work at Anthony Harper and to enjoy the South Island lifestyle I'd always kind of dreamt of.
What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I acted for the government of a large Western nation trying to acquire and aggregate land for a new embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan during the height of the war.Having a dozen tribal warlords as counterparties and lives depending on confidentiality was something a bit different!
If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Billy Connolly; to have me falling off my chair laughing.Vo Nguyen Giap; the communist Vietnamese general who defeated the Japanese, French and Americans.Grace Kelly for beauty and class.
You’re based in Christchurch – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
Outside at Fiddlesticks on Worcester Boulevard, on a summer's evening.
What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?
"Are you sure enough of that answer to bet my house on it?"(from a former supervising partner).It sums up the need to bring your best work to your lawyering, and why!
Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
Running in Hagley Park and anything involving my kids and a nice beach.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A journalist.Like lawyers, (I expect) they enjoy always working on something new, having to understand it in depth, figuring out the angles and having to think about how they're communicating.
What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand in 2016?
Keeping our clients happy on costs while still making it all worthwhile for ourselves.
If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
First I'd enjoy the limo rides and all that jazz.But perhaps later I'd do some thinking about what I could do on equality and understanding why too many people are missing out on too much; and maybe some contemplation about whether middle NZ actually cares enough about these things.In my youth I fancied myself a self-satisfied right-winger, but then I grew up, lived around the world and started a family.Now, I'm full of admiration for those who are trying to live decent lives and raise children without any of the privileges I've had, and I think we can do better for them.
What do you love about your job?
Lawyers never stop learning; from the first day to the last day on the job.The intellectual challenges make the brain hurt sometimes, but imagine a job where you don't have any.
What would you change about your job right now if you could?
The modern professional services cult of everything being urgent wouldn't be missed.Funnily enough I do my best work when there's time to do it properly.