Where focused
minds meet

London

Matthew Newick (he/him)

GLOBAL HEAD OF LITIGATION & DISPUTE RESOLUTION

I'm a proud Kiwi but grew up in Malaysia and Singapore, did my senior years of schooling in New Zealand, then studied Law and French at Otago University in the deep south of NZ. After a few years of working at one of the top NZ firms, I arrived in London in 1991 and almost bit the firm's hand off when they saw fit to offer me a job.

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Can you tell us about the firm's reverse mentoring programme and your involvement and what you have taken away from it?

I have been blessed with two outstanding reverse mentors, one on gender and one on race. They are both extraordinarily wise, patient, passionate, articulate and intellectually robust in their approach to educating an old white guy (albeit one with good intentions). One key benefit has just been to make it that little bit easier to put myself in the shoes of a woman or person of colour in our firm and our world. But they have also helped me cross some "game-changing" thresholds: to transform my mindset from fairly passive non-sexism and non-racism to active feminism and anti-racism; to recognise my privilege, in particular that, despite my own hard work, I've benefited from a contest that is stacked in my favour; and to question how we can claim to be truly meritocratic when our senior ranks remain so white, male and straight. The more people like me recognise these core truths, the quicker we will achieve true equality.

Can you tell me about a single moment in your career that you’ve never forgotten?

I remember as though it were yesterday my first solo outing as a nervous young advocate (with hair beneath my barrister's wig) in a full trial before the High Court of New Zealand. My nerves were not helped by appearing before NZ's grumpiest Judge, a reputation that he did nothing to dispel during my knee-trembling appearance before him. After a three-day trial (and little sleep on my part), he delivered an oral judgment in my client's favour, which had required me to persuade him that the English Court of Appeal had been wrong in a previous case about an obscure equitable principle. Still one of my favourite career moments, over 30 years later. What did I learn from the experience? The three Ps: preparation, preparation, preparation – which has been a guiding principle for me ever since. If only I had more time to practise the principle.