Working in London, Sydney and New Zealand, Tim Herbert is a Barrister and Solicitor who describes himself is a lifelong learner. The College caught up with Tim for this Q&A on advice for law students and what he enjoys about his career and being an Instructor at the College.
What does your job involve?
As well as being an adjunct instructor for The College of Law, I am also a barrister sole operating in New Zealand, specialising in civil/commercial disputes. On top of this, I work as a solicitor (in England & Wales) for two English firms, Ignition Law and London Law Cooperative, providing commercial advice, both as to company commercial matters and disputes. This essentially sees me spreading my time between preparing for and appearing at Court, dealing with disputes and putting together commercial documents.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I find two areas particularly enjoyable. First, I enjoy the “forensic” side of litigation: taking the various evidence and the law and eliciting an argument in your client’s favour from it (particularly whilst writing submissions). Secondly, I like actually standing up and explaining it to the Court: the advocacy side of things.
How did you come to work in this area?
I studied law at university and it was a natural step to pursue it as a career. When I entered the profession, the financial climate at the time meant that I chose the security of becoming a solicitor. I worked in London for several years, initially for Herbert Smith and then Jones Day Reavis & Pogue. From there, I moved to Sydney, where I worked for Freehills (now Herbert Smith Freehills) and then Coudert Brothers. I finally ended up in New Zealand when my wife was offered an excellent opportunity here, starting with Lee Salmon Long and then moving on to being a barrister sole.
What advice would you have for students keen to practise in your area of law?
The first advice would be to study hard and get good grades. As much as academia shouldn’t be everything, it is certainly a good start. From there it’s about staying personable and showing a willing spirit. Take every opportunity that you can, even if it doesn’t seem the most exciting an idea at the time – you will be amazed where you go if you don’t shut the doors that are in front of you. Because I did not come up through the New Zealand ranks, I do not know if there is any particular process or anyone in particular that you should speak to here in terms of your career going forward. I started by going to the various law fairs at my university and picking up brochures. From there, I did vacation placements that put me on a good line towards working for a firm. That firm specialised in litigation, which is really how I ended up involved with disputes and advocacy. I know that the NZLS is trialing a mentor service, allowing more senior members of the profession to give guidance to those more junior – I think this might have been quite useful to me when I was more junior.
What do you enjoy about teaching at The College of Law?
The fun of teaching is always the interaction between the teacher and the students. It is good when there is a good rapport between the two sides. They are, after all, both working to a mutual end – to get the students passed successfully!
From your perspective as an Instructor, how can students make the most of their Profs?
I think that post that initial degree there is a tendency to switch off a little and decide that the “learning” side of life is over. Try to avoid this. The truth is that you continue to learn all your life and should take every opportunity to do so. I’m still learning now!