Raewyn Lovett ONZM

Partner, Duncan Cotterill
Law, 1983

Raewyn Lovett

Partner, Chair, Champion Achiever.

Raewyn Lovett has earned some remarkable achievements over her career. She became Partner at Duncan Cotterill at age 29. In 2015 she received the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her service as Chair of Netball NZ, where she helped move the sport into a semi-professional environment. Despite her accolades she says it’s what she’s gained in return that matters most. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with amazing people who have gone on to do incredible things.”

What do you enjoy most about your role as partner at Duncan Cotterill?

I really value the relationships I have with my clients and seeing their businesses grow over the years. I like doing commercial transactions too. It’s an intense experience and there’s a bit of adrenaline involved!

Why did you decide to become a lawyer?

My parents were farmers and none of our family had been to university before. So I was expected to choose a practical vocation. For a woman in my day that meant teaching or nursing. I applied to teachers college but as soon as I was accepted I knew it wasn’t going to be right for me. The very same day I told my parents I was going to law school instead. They were anxious because it was an unknown world to them, but they were proud too.

How did you find your uni experience?

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did my law degree when there weren’t too many students so we were a tight knit group. UC Law was a great launching pad for my career. It gave me the infrastructure, support and social life I was looking for, and the expectations around what I was supposed to achieve were clear.

How did your career unfold after uni?

At the time it wasn't easy to get a job. I was fortunate to get a position in Christchurch at Duncan Cotterill. I've been there ever since (now in our Auckland office) aside from a few years working overseas. So that's how my career unfolded! I was fortunate to join a firm that is supportive of a work life balance and had two children while juggling my legal career.

What's it like to work for one firm for so long?

I think if you have a good experience when you join as a young grad, you’ll always have a real fondness for that organisation. Duncan Cotterill gave me great opportunities. They invited me to work in the commercial law department, which was a big thing for a young woman in those days. It sounds crazy to say that today, but at the time it was a sign of their faith in my abilities. When you have that kind of confidence shown in you as a young person it really resonates with you. A lot has changed since joining the firm, so it never feels static. We now have four offices in New Zealand and 39 partners.

You’ve had governance roles as well – can you tell us about that side of your career?

I became a partner at Duncan Cotterill at age 29, relatively early in my career. In my early 40’s I got to a point where I thought I'd like to explore new things. I was flipping through the newspaper when I saw an ad for a director at Netball New Zealand. I got an interview and was offered the role, which was fantastic. The world that opened up was completely different from the legal world. Since that time I have been appointed to a number of other boards in a variety of sectors a number of which I Chair.

What was your favourite achievement in that role?

I was part of the group that moved netball into the semi-professional world. A trans-Tasman competition didn't exist when I joined and we worked with Australia to establish the ANZ Championship. I'm really proud of helping to move a women’s sport into a semi-professional environment.

What did that role mean for you?

I found I had a leadership style that allowed me to add value to an organisation. That was an eye-opener for me and very rewarding. I received an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for my service as Chair in 2015, but it's what the organisation gave back to me that mattered the most. I had the pleasure of working with amazing people who have gone on to do incredible things.

Looking back on your life and career, is there anything you would have done differently?

Sometimes I think I would have been easier on myself. I was the first female partner Duncan Cotterill, and the first to have a baby as a partner. I was determined to do everything exactly right because I knew I was a role model for future decisions. Looking back I might have tried for a bit more balance… but then I'm a very competitive person, so in reality I probably wouldn't have done it any differently!

Any advice for young people today?

Be brave. There’s no limit to what you want to do. Get out and try things. People are key too. If you can find somebody who cares about your career and open doors for you, then nurture that relationship. Those connections can be incredibly rewarding in terms of the opportunities they create.

How would you sum up UC?

It’s a world-class university that reflects the environment it's in. It has history and longevity, and it consistently produces good results. It's understated too, which is another feature of the region. It’s innovative and confident, but it doesn't shout about itself. Whenever people ask me where I got my degree, I've always been very proud to say UC.