A quick chat with...
Grant Pritchard, Senior In-house Lawyer and Mental Health Advocate, Spark & ILANZ President
How long have you been on the ILANZ Committee for? I’ve been on the ILANZ Committee since 2016.
What do you hope to achieve as the ILANZ President in the year ahead? I’m going to continue advocating for the interests of Kiwi in-house lawyers and helping fulfil ILANZ’s mission to connect, support and lead our in-house community. We’ll be developing an updated strategic plan in the coming weeks that will guide the focus and direction of ILANZ over the next two years, including how we continue our mission in the different world that is forming as a result of COVID-19. I think wellbeing will be a focus area, as well as how we can continue innovating and evolving to meet the needs of an in-house community that now makes up almost 1 in 4 lawyers in New Zealand. I’m also keen to hear feedback and ideas from our members – some of the best new ideas and perspectives for in-house legal practice are likely to come from within our community.
What do you do? I’m a senior in-house lawyer at Spark, currently supporting our customer-facing, marketing and product teams.
What do you like most about your job? I love the proximity to the projects and products that are changing how Kiwis live, work and play. There’s always something new, and we’re operating at the intersection of law, technology and society. From a workplace perspective, Spark has also developed a strong inclusive culture for its people - I love being part of an inclusive workplace where diversity is celebrated.
What is a career highlight so far? There are plenty of ‘project/matter’-type highlights I could share, but the biggest highlight of my career so far has been connecting and sharing with our members at the ILANZ Conference in 2019 on the topic of mental health in the legal profession.
What are some challenges or issues that you think in-house lawyers are facing today? I think one of the key challenges for in-house lawyers from is wellbeing – finding the right balance, tools and strategies that work to help our people thrive in the workplace and at home. From an efficiency and delivery perspective, I think employers are continuing to expect in-house teams to deliver “more for less” – so there’s plenty of work for in-house lawyers, but with shrinking budgets we need to keep thinking about how we organise our teams, deliver services and leverage new technologies to empower our clients. Finally, from a people perspective, I think attracting, retaining and developing a pipeline of in-house talent will continue to be a priority – with lawyers being in high demand as they move through 3-5 years PQE and beyond. One of the few upsides of COVID-19 is that our lawyers aren’t heading off overseas (or are returning), which means a bigger talent pool is available for Kiwi in-house teams.
What are some fallacies or stereotypes that you have heard about in-house lawyers? I don’t really hear these much to be honest. The tired and inaccurate stereotype of in-house lawyers as “post-boxes” for private practice lawyers has been resigned to the past. I think there are still some inaccurate stereotypes floating around: that in-house life will be cruisy, all in-house roles are similar, and in-house lawyers will be paid less than their private practice peers. The reality is that in-house legal roles are challenging and diverse, and pay can be comparable to (or in some cases higher than) equivalent private practice roles.
What are your passions and hobbies? Reading, snowboarding and creating a more mentally-healthy world.
Anything else you would like to add? I want to thank our members and the ILANZ committee for trusting me in the role of ILANZ President. Your new committee will be good stewards for our community and we’re aiming to leave ILANZ and our members stronger and better than when we started.