In our ‘Meet the Directors’ series, we introduce you to our directors, giving you an insight into their legal experience and what makes them tick. This quarter, we manage to sit down with Denise Arnold, who is one very busy woman.

How did you get into law?

I originally wanted to be a vet, but attended an autopsy on a pig at a piggery as part of work experience in the seventh form (as it was called back then) and, it’s fair to say, that was pretty much the end of that.

I had always been a good debater and interested in advocating for the underdog so decided law suited me better.

When and where were you admitted to the bar?

I studied at The University of Auckland and was admitted to the bar in 1988. My shining moment was scoring an A+ and a prize for estate and tax planning. 

What do you enjoy mostly about being a lawyer?

My clients.

I get to know them over the years acting for them, and then get to know their families.

Lawyers these days are not just about seeing a transaction is carried out smoothly. We take more of an advisory role now, helping our clients achieve their goals and keeping the bigger picture in mind.

What makes a successful lawyer?


We need to understand the problem, and then fit different solutions to that problem to come out with the best result. And we need to be strategic and thinking outside the box to get to the right result sometimes. 

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I love being in the Bay of Plenty and I also love spending time with my family.

Aside from that I am actively involved in development in Cambodia(through the Cambodia Charitable Trust) so I am often reading up on education or working on plans and spreadsheets.  

Needless to say, there aren’t too many moments where I have nothing to do.

What goals have you set this year and heading into 2019?

I want to learn to speak and read Khmer (the Cambodian language).

Languages are not my strong point and when there are 35 vowels and33 consonants, the writing looks like Sanskrit and there are no spaces between words, sometimes my brain just packs up and leaves for the lesson.  

My teacher Sonita is very patient but I feel like the slowest learner in history.

What is the most recent book or movie you have seen/read?

I loved watching ‘A Star is Born’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ recently. I loved all the old Queen tracks.

For books, I have discovered Amor Towles thanks to my friend Liz recommending him. I have enjoyed both ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ and‘Rules of Civility’. I am now rereading ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ by Louisde Bernieres.

I must have spare time after all!

Historical figure

I would love to meet Eleanor Roosevelt – “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

I have adopted this as my mantra.