A kiwi lawyer working in a legal tech business is an example of not only how New Zealand lawyers are increasingly found in legal nooks and crannies globally, but also reflects the increasingly diverse nature of the legal jobs market as well.
Cynthia Garton is a Canterbury law graduate who has experience working both within private legal firms and as in-house counsel for global clients.
Today she is a business development manager for highly successful legal software business TransPerfect Legal Solutions based in Amsterdam. The business began in a dorm room in New York in 1991 before expanding to offices in 90 cities globally providing law-focused translation services for legal firms and organisations.
So how did she arrive at her current job?
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Following Canterbury University she worked in private practice at MinterEllisonRuddWatts and then moved to an in-house law job in Auckland working for international engineering consultancy Sinclair Knight Merz in a job that took her eventually from Auckland to Brisbane.
“I spent two years in Brisbane before deciding I would like to head further afield and went across to London. I spent two years working in a quasi-legal role in the UK before accepting a Legal Counsel position in Amsterdam.”
However after two years there in that role she decided to diversify her career with a sideways move to TransPerfect Legal Solutions (TLS).
A Challenging New Role
The new position with TLS as Director of Business Development sees her sourcing new legal business for the group both in the Netherlands and internationally.
The challenge is also to nurture and grow those relationships.
“I work for the legal arm of the business and we offer end-to-end legal support services, including document translation, forensic collection, analysis, processing and hosting of data (for both ediscovery, compliance investigations and M&A transactions) as well as legal staffing solutions.”
“I enjoy the project management aspect of my job and practically supporting on managing a range of legal projects with my clients.”
The Challenges of Working Globally
There are many kiwi lawyers working abroad and per capita New Zealand may have more ‘global lawyers’ than just about any jurisdiction.
So what does Cynthia Garton have to say about scoring a job overseas and what she has learnt in terms of her career and where law technology is heading?
“I have worked both in private practice as well as in in-house legal roles around the globe. I have learned a lot from all of these roles, and all of the skills I have obtained in each of those roles have been transferable to each other and are now helping me in my current role since I work with lawyers every day.”
Working in a legal-tech business has provided her with a unique insight into the future of law, particularly as she spends considerable time attending seminars and events discussing such topics. Furthermore, the Dutch legal scene is innovative and “edgy” she says.
But she doesn’t think lawyers will be replaced by technology any time soon.
“But lawyers have to embrace new legal technology and enjoy working with these new tools, so that they become more efficient in terms of the way they work.
“At the end of the day, law firms are businesses and there is competition among them to find the best solutions for their clients.
“Efficient use of time (and allowing technology to support that efficiency) and cost is key to client satisfaction. Those firms that do not embrace new approaches and ways of doing things will simply get left behind.”
Taking an adventurous view of the legal possibilities for a law career have lead Cynthia Garton down a fascinating and still-developing ‘legal career’ that sees her at the coal face of what technology is doing to change the way lawyers operate in the 21st century.