The more-for-less challenge and David Kirk for dinner

by NZ Lawyer05 Sep 2016
Lexvoco managing counsel Nat Parbhu works between Auckland and Melbourne.  He talks to NZ Lawyer about his trans-Tasman practice.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I wasn’t good enough to make a living as a professional skier or footballer, so becoming a lawyer seemed like the next best option.

How long have you worked at lexvoco and what brought you to this position?
I’ve been at lexvoco for nearly a year now, having joined the business about six months after it commenced as a start up in Australia. I ended up at lexvoco as a result of a chance introduction to the founder Anthony Wright and some very coincidental timing. It wasn’t long after I started that I realised I’d found my ideal workplace in terms of lexvoco’s model facilitating the optimal balance between law and business, and also the great people that make up the team. As a result of lexvoco’s rapid growth in Australia, we recently launched in New Zealand which is exciting.

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
When I was in private practice in London, I was involved in a large fraud case in the palm oil business in Malaysia which entailed me being shipped off to Southeast Asia for an extended period of time. The trial eventually sat for 42 days in Singapore and was followed by years of chasing money (mostly unsuccessfully) around an assortment of the world’s most well known tax havens.

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Edmund Hilary – “You don't have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals”. I think that is self-explanatory! Also Scot Schmidt, a pioneer of extreme skiing and star of the classic Warren Miller movie, The Blizzard of Aahhhs, and one of my childhood heroes. And finally, David Kirk, Rugby World Cup winning captain, Rhodes scholar and incredibly successful in the corporate world – he’d provide pretty interesting dinner party banter.

You’re based in Melbourne – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
The Arbory on the river next to Flinders Street station for a couple of beers followed by a mad rush to get the train home in time to put the kids to bed. Dinner out invariably means our local pub, The Sandy, which is your typical Melbourne suburban family establishment with an indoor kids’ playground - but I’m not sure I’d recommend it as a top Melbourne establishment! In Auckland you can’t beat a couple of post work drinks in Ponsonby Central followed by dinner at The Blue Breeze Inn.

What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?
Two pieces of advice stand out – firstly, ‘make sure you think about how you are coming across to other people’, and secondly ‘ we’re not saving lives’. The second point about keeping everything in perspective is extremely valuable in both a professional and personal context!

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
Other than spending as much time as I can with my family, pretty much all of my interests revolve around sport – both playing and watching. I’m still skiing as much as I can and trying to pass my passion for the outdoors on to my children. I also play old man’s soccer, cycle and run - but a lot less than I used to.

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A ski instructor. Or maybe a bar owner.

What do you think will be the single biggest issue facing the legal space in New Zealand in 2016?
In the in-house legal space there is a never-ending demand to ‘do more for less’. As a result, there is a need for the corporate legal function to continually improve in terms of process, efficiencies, output and value add to the business – and all of this needs to be achieved without increasing the business’ risk profile. This is challenging.

If you had John Key’s job for one day, what would you do?
I’m not sure John Key has the power himself to change anything without the support of Parliament. I don’t particularly envy his job – it looks like a lot of hassle, especially seeing as everyone, including his fellow MPs, can snipe from the sidelines without having any accountablity themselves. So I think I would probably take it easy, check out Bellamys and see if I could get my caricature put up alongside other Kiwi political legends in The Backbencher pub across the road.

What do you love about your job?
It’s very clichéd but first and foremost I love the people I work with. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a lot fussier about what I do and who I work with. It’s also made me realise that in the past there have been times when I should have changed job a lot sooner than I actually did. And happy clients of course – getting a simple thank you from a client for a job well done is pretty rewarding.

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
I don’t think I’d be alone in moving to a four day working week (or a nine month working year) without any change to remuneration.