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Conrad Smith 485x323
02 July 2024

College of Law NZ alumni spotlight: Conrad Smith

Published on 02 July 2024

College of Law NZ 20yrs    

At the College of Law, we’re thrilled to celebrate 20 years of learning. In recognition, we’re spotlighting the achievements of our alumni – and the different paths they’ve chosen.

We are delighted to sit down with Conrad Smith to learn about his career so far.

Former captain of the Super Rugby Hurricanes and key member of the All Blacks from 2004-2015, Conrad Smith completed his College of Law Profs in 2006.

Combining his two big passions, rugby and law, he now serves as both a Head of high-performance and legal counsel at International Rugby Players – the global rugby player representative association.


Q: Hi Conrad! So, how did you get started in law?

I enrolled in a Law/Arts double degree. But I quickly fell in love with law and decided to pursue a single degree. I followed that up with an honours degree, which I thoroughly enjoyed. (I know that not everyone says that, but for me, it’s true!)

Law suited my personality. I enjoy reasoning, looking at both sides of an argument, and understanding different perspectives.

I was fortunate in a way that I didn’t get selected for a representative side until my final year, and I could focus on my degree while playing part-time. I was on student loans, and I backed myself to get a job at the end of my degree.


Q: What was your experience like with the College of Law’s Profs course?

During my second year of playing professional rugby, I broke my leg.

It was unfortunate, but also a silver lining I finished my law degree and completed Profs, and I am really proud of that as it's not something many modern-day rugby players are able to achieve.

It gave me the time to knuckle down and complete my Profs, which I was worried I wouldn’t get around to doing. Bell Gully, the law firm I was working for at the time, supported me through the programme.

During the course, I met a lot of people in the profession who all shared the same advice: ‘Sure, you’ve got a law degree, and you’ve got critical thinking skills. But if you want to be a good lawyer, you’ve got to learn a whole new range of skills as well as understand the importance of people skills.

Luckily, at the College of Law, I learned all those new technical skills—and more. I learned with incredible instructors practising in the trade, got hands-on experience, and tackled real-life scenarios. I truly learned by doing.

The course is always in the back of my mind, even in my current role at the International Rugby Players Association. My understanding of the law and analytical thinking are completely different from how they were before I started the programme.


Q: What does your career with International Rugby Players look like now?

Every day with the International Rugby Players looks different, although I can safely say that I’ve found my calling by being able to blend law with sports!

International Rugby Players is the global representative body for 13 national player associations across the world, representing them on all issues related to professional rugby players.

We focus on world rugby issues, whether that’s global tournaments, world cups, women’s tournaments, or any regulation handed down by World Rugby, such as the rules of the game or rules around eligibility.

As its Head of Player Welfare, advocating for players is incredibly rewarding. Good representation and mediation help not just the players’ interests – but also the entire sport, moving it in a positive direction.


Q: Where’s next for you?

Although “lawyer” might not be my job title, I will certainly be involved in sports-related law.

I love that I get to use my knowledge of the law and skills that I gained though Profs and different firms along the way for a cause I’m incredibly passionate about. I hope to stay involved in sports law for a long time.


Q: What advice would you give to law students embarking on their careers?

To law students, I recommend being open-minded about everything and taking every opportunity as it presents itself.

There might be parts of a job that you don’t like, but it’s all part of your growth and getting experience.

Your law degree and legal admission will open more opportunities than any other degree (especially in New Zealand), so embrace them!



Interested in learning more about Profs? Download the handbook here