If I were a …


Barrister & Solicitor

Name: Elliot Goldman

Age: 32

Nationality: Canadian, Briton and Kiwi

Employed by: MacTodd

Started: 2005

Years in the job: Four


I did a Bachelor of Arts degree at McGill University in Canada then a Bachelor of Law at Victoria University, which I graduated from in 2005.

I was admitted to the bar (licensed to practise law) in 2006. Lawyers also have to always review laws because they’re always changing.

How you got into it?

Victoria University used to offer Legal Systems – the first paper you have to take in law school – as a summer school paper.

It was right after I’d done a ski season in the North Island and I thought, ‘Oh well, I can either go skiing overseas or I can start a law degree’.

Why this?

I ski-instructed for a couple of years but always, as a kid, wanted to study law. I liked the idea of advising people of their legal rights and obligations.

There are also so many different areas of the law and you get to deal with people all of the time.

I was inspired by…

Knowing I can help people and they have the confidence in you for you to be able to do that.

Often people’s legal affairs can be quite stressful and it’s quite satisfying when you can allay their worries and sort out their legal issues.

It helps if you…

Are able to listen to your clients, are good at communicating and are efficient.

Average day

I’m usually here by 8.30am then I clear up emails and prioritise things that need to be done.

A lot of my day is spent on the telephone, dictating letters, sending and receiving emails, meeting clients.

I finish up about 6pm but clients often contact us after hours, too.

Equipment I couldn’t do without

A pen and notepad, mobile-PDA device, computer and dictaphone.

Best on-the-job advice

Use initiative – apply the legal knowledge you already have then check with someone senior.

It’s valuable to figure things out for yourself rather than just asking someone more experienced.

You need to learn to trust your instincts and have confidence in your ability to make legal decisions.

On-the-job incident to haunt me

When I was doing my bar admission exams, I had a major exam on Friday in Christchurch and had to fly up on Thursday.

I pulled all-nighters on Tuesday and Wednesday, and worked during the day.

You can’t actually do that in practice.

This isn’t for you if…

You’re not willing to persevere for at least two or three years. Initially it’s not like Boston Legal but eventually it gets there.