In July this year, soon after joining the team at Lyon O’Neale Arnold, solicitor Kathryn Esterman was admitted to the bar. We take a look at how she has found her first year in law and the return to her hometown of Tauranga.
How did it feel getting admitted to the Bar?
It was a very proud moment for me, and also a huge relief - it took many years of work to get to that point, not to mention the application process before you can be admitted which is also very lengthy. It was great to be admitted in Tauranga where I grew up, and there were only five of us being admitted so it was pretty special. The Judge (Justice Simon Moore) gave a great speech in which he stressed the importance of your reputation in the legal profession.
What have you enjoyed the most over the past year?
After five years of study it is great to be able to draw on the theory and knowledge gained from law school and apply it in practice. You get to help clients with real-life problems rather than the problems of the characters found in hypothetical questions in a law exam. Solving real-life problems is much more satisfying than answering a question correctly in an exam.
What have you found the most rewarding?
I have found working with elderly clients and first home buyers especially rewarding. The gratitude expressed by your clients when you finish a task or solve a problem, for instance reaching settlement for a property purchase, is very fulfilling.
What have you learnt that you can't learn from a text book?
As a new lawyer, you won't make it very far at all if you only rely on what you have learnt from a text book. You need to be a good listener, understand your clients, and explain the law in a way that is useful. These aren't skills that you learn in law school where the focus is very much on case law. Some of my most valuable learning has occurred by simply sitting in with more experienced lawyers when they meet with clients and learning from the interactions.
Has anything surprised you?
The vast amount of knowledge that you can gain in one day.
What is your top legal tip?
Make sure you review your legal affairs regularly - a lot can change in five years.
What is unique about working at LOA?
I love working in a smaller-sized firm because you get exposure to a wide range of different legal issues. LOA is also a firm that prides itself on community involvement and education, for example, the Library Law Series, Wonder Women and Cambodia Charitable Trust which makes working there even more rewarding.
What else have you been up to this year?
I have been taking open ballet classes once a week, and I have also just picked up contemporary dances classes too. Also, horse riding and running. I have enjoyed being involved in our work events such as Wonder Women too.
What would you say to those who are wanting to pursue a career in law?
If you like helping and interacting with people, and problem solving then you will be in the right place.