Reflections on 2022


Jonathan Scragg

At the end of August I welcomed my colleague Richard Lang to the position of Chair of Duncan Cotterill, which I’ve been honoured to hold since 2020. At the time we discussed his new role, but now we've passed through the transition and been able to share our reflections on what’s been an incredible period of disruption – for the better, as well as the worse. 

2022, like the prior two years has been defined by uncertainty for the economy and our clients alike. We have seen increased demand for a number of our service lines, including our employment and immigration practices, our construction and property teams, and our public sector group. From Covid-19 to regulatory change and the higher cost of living, the challenges have been many and often deeply felt by our clients and own people. I’m extremely proud of how our teams have continued to support the firm’s clients throughout, navigating uncertainties with dedication to creating the best possible outcomes at a time of such constant change.

Our strength is our people. I’m particularly honoured to have overseen a period as Chair in which our teams have grown in size, and capability.  We have focused on enabling our people’s individual growth and actively fostered the next generation of leadership within the firm. The resolve and resilience I have seen among our people and clients holds even more true today, which is why our leadership team has worked hard to ensure our people are well supported.

This year we have also had a strong focus on recognising and nurturing the outstanding talent we have at Duncan Cotterill. In 2022 Alysha Hinton and Peter Fernando were promoted to the partnership from within our ranks, joining other recent internal partnership promotions: Tanya Wood, Julia Flattery, Katherine Forward and Lisa Small. We were also pleased to be joined by new partners Ron Arieli in 2022, and Louise McNaughton and Alastair Holland in 2021; and to have the opportunity to celebrate many other promotions across the business. Of ten new partners, seven are women. We’ve been conscious to increase the diversity of our leadership, while making our firm a great place to work for all. This has included becoming accredited as a Living Wage employer. I’m also delighted that Duncan Cotterill has once again been named the top graduate workplace in the law category by GradNewZealand in 2022.

Throughout my time as Chair,  it has been exciting to witness the ever increasing growth in diversity in our profession.  We believe that increasing diversity won’t only create a stronger future for our firm – it will also enhance the profession’s ability to reflect and represent all the communities in which we operate across Aotearoa New Zealand, from the population hubs of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to Nelson and our new Queenstown office, which opened last year. 

Though I have now handed over to Richard as the new Chair, I am enjoying supporting our continued transition to the next generation of leadership and further growth across regional New Zealand. I would also like to thank the Duncan Cotterill team and partnership for their support and guidance during my tenure. 

Richard Lang

On taking up the role of Chair, I’ve had many conversations with partners, colleagues and fellow Board members about who we are as a business. It’s easy to talk about scale. Duncan Cotterill has grown from 234 full time employees in March 2021 to 270 currently, with around 315 people overall, which includes 49 partners, that makes us the second largest legal partnership in New Zealand. 

The firm has also been recognised as a Fast Firm for 2022, the only firm in the 30+ partner category, which is a direct acknowledgement of our successful growth in all areas for 2022. 

But that’s not what really sets us apart. As Jonathan says, it’s about the strength and quality of our teams, our advice and counsel. That hasn’t come about by accident. Our business reflects the areas of importance to New Zealanders, from private client matters to immigration, property and construction, technology and accompanying privacy issues. We’re intentionally both maintaining and growing those parts of our business to continue to serve our communities’ needs as they evolve. The ongoing digital transformation of our economy and the expansion of the tech sector to being the fastest growing export represents huge opportunities and challenges for our clients as they manage new legal obligations and ways of working. 

We’ve made a conscious choice to support local businesses along with major global companies and the public sector, committing to providing a full-service commercial offering. Whether that’s providing support with visas and immigration for employers to supporting with IT contracts, mergers and acquisitions and property matters, our ethos is to make it easy for our clients to get everything they need in one place. Thanks to investing in growing our senior strength, our partners are notably invested in our clients’ matters as well as our wider teams, something we believe is vital to providing the best possible advice. 

Our strong position and values continue to attract good people of similar mindsets, including our new independent Board member, Gráinne Troute, a respected leader in New Zealand’s tourism industry. As Chair, I’m determined to build further on this legacy. The type of people we are, our national footprint, deep areas of expertise and our commitment to each other and our clients sets us apart.

Ngā mihi maioha – I look forward to an exciting 2023!  

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