ILANZ, In-House Lawyers Association of New Zealand


A chat with 2024 award winner, Philie Deo

A chat with 2024 award winner, Philie Deo

June 21, 2024 at 11:45 AM

Philie Deo, tells us how it felt to win the MAS New In-house Lawyer of the Year award, what it’s like working with her team at Hato Hone St John and shares some advice for new in-house lawyers.  

How did it feel to win the MAS New In-house Lawyer Award?  

A little bit surreal, to be honest. I was surprised to hear my name when they announced the winner. It's also quite an honour to be recognised by your peers. It's something I'm very proud of - not only for the win, but for my team (particularly our Principal Legal Counsel Julie Hands) thinking to nominate me in the first place and for the references people were happy to provide in support. 


What was your greatest highlight from the ILANZ Conference 2024? 
It would be hard to beat the Gala, given I won my award and our team won the Small Team of the Year Award. The other highlight would be the talk from Tawera Nikau - he was a great speaker and his points around values resonated with me.


How much did you rely on the support of other employees when you started out in law?   

Hugely - it's such an adjustment from law school and so having work mates to help give you advice, go out for a coffee with or to sense check things with makes such a difference to your day. I also find making connections with people really important and valuable - so I still rely on the support of my work makes now, and have in every role I've held.

You and your team at Hato Hone St John, also took home the Small In-house Team of the Year award, what was it like sharing this achievement with your colleagues?  

It was really special. It's a great group of people, all who have been working longer at Hato Hone St John than me (one of our team has been at Hato Hone St John for over 20 years, in various roles). I felt really proud that we won and that the team was recognised for the amazing work we do as quite a small team in a large, and unique, organisation.

As Ben Sutton (General Manager of Legal & Risk for Hato Hone St John), mentioned in his session at the ILANZ Conference, your team uses humour as one of the ways of getting through challenges when they occur – how else do you and your team get through challenges together?  

Our humour gets progressively darker as the challenges increase. 
We have regular team check ins as well as 1:1s with Ben to help keep an eye on where the challenges are sitting. We're also good at making time to head out for a coffee and chat, about work or home, so we know where each other is at.  


Why did you decide to study law?  

An advisor at Uni recommended that I try Laws101 to support my French degree. I found it interesting and challenging and decided it might be a better career path than simply a French degree.  

What advice do you have for new In-house Lawyers?

Talk to people within your organisation - anyone and everyone who is willing to talk with you. You learn so much from those in the organisation and it helps when you're trying to figure out the solution to a question to have people to go to - to help work out what will work not only in the legal sense, but in the practical (and useful) sense.