A quick chat with...
Sian Atkinson, Senior Legal Advisor, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa & ILANZ Committee member
1) How long have you been on the ILANZ Committee for?
Since 22 May 2020.
2) What do you hope to achieve as a ILANZ Committee member in the year ahead?
To give support and tools to in-house counsel in the regions and also those that are sole-counsel doing the hard yards in isolation. It would be great to combine our knowledge and the resources we use daily, so that others are able to benefit. There are a lot of similarities between in-house counsel and the daily struggles we face, so it would be good to connect with each other and combine our skills and tools.
3) What do you do?
I am the Senior Legal Advisor for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
4) What do you like most about your job?
Being part of a kaupapa Māori organisation and working alongside like-minded people with the same vision to help those that may not have been successful in mainstream education and also spreading the knowledge of Te Reo Māori. It is very rare to be able to practice law in my hometown and be involved in a valuable kaupapa.
5) What is a career highlight so far?
There are a few, but getting the role I am currently in, and the thank you and appreciation I get when I help someone.
6) What are some challenges or issues that you think in-house lawyers are facing today?
Being seen as the roadblock and not supporting the business strategy as well as being able to educate the business or organisation on the importance of compliance and mitigating risks earlier on in the decision-making process.
7) What are some fallacies that you have heard about in-house lawyers?
We are the ambulance at the end and we cause delays. That is not always the case.
8) What are your hobbies?
I enjoy everything to do with the outdoors. My favourite thing to do on the weekend is find a new walking track, bike track, waterfall or beach that my two kids, husband and I have not been to. But otherwise, when I am not tidying up after my kids, I like to read a good book, cook lots of yummy food, have a nice glass of Pinot Noir and look after all my nieces and nephews.
9) Anything else you would like to add?
We are in privileged positions as in-house counsel and it is important to remember that we are there to support and adapt our advice to find a solution that keeps the organisation safe, which sometimes means looking outside the box.