It all started when I was 6!


Michael Smyth Six years old sounds a peculiar time to start to legal career, but that's the first memory I have of going to my Dad's law firm located in the heart of legal London. The office address was 3 Kings Bench Walk, Inner Temple, which sounds very grand. In fact, it is as grand as it sounds: I was immediately impressed by all the funny men and women walking around in black capes and carrying white wigs and bundles of papers tied up with pink ribbon. You can imagine the type of questions that prompted from an inquisitive six year old!

The reason for the black capes and wigs was that the Inner Temple is one of the Inns of Court where all the English barristers reside. My Dad's law firm was quite unique in that respect since it was one of the very few solicitor's firms in the Inner Temple. In England (unlike New Zealand, where I am now) they make a distinction between barristers and solicitors.

Solicitor's notepads, stamps and telephone exchanges

Surprisingly, a law firm holds a great deal of fascination for a six year old. In the 70's, technology wasn't what it is today, but I was fascinated by the "Thunderbirds" style telephone switchboard. I amused myself by drawing in legal notepads and playing with the stamps while I heard my Dad negotiate legal disputes in the background. However, as a six year old, and in the years which lay ahead, the highlight was always going to lunch. You could say that, for me, food is a priority...

And law is in the blood too

So, with law running in the family, the natural choice at University was a law degree which kept me occupied for three years, followed by a year getting my Legal Practice Diploma at the Guildford College of Law, and then two years training at 3 Kings Bench Walk (where else?!). By that stage my Dad had passed away so I was left to fend for myself and follow in his footsteps. Six years after joining that firm, I had developed a good client base and a thorough grounding in all areas of commercial litigation, commercial and employment law. I also had a keen interest in Sports Law and was one of the first people to obtain a Post Graduate Certificate in the subject from Kings College London before moving to New Zealand.

The Land of the Long White Cloud

I soon learnt that I was one of those people who was looking for bigger and better challenges and in 2001 decided to leave London for a working sabbatical in New Zealand. I joined Buddle Findlay, one of the top 6 law firms in the country, working in their litigation and employment law departments. I arrived in November and by February had taken the most tortuous legal conversion exams you could imagine. They weren't so much hard, as a lot to cover in a short space of time. Fortunately, I passed the lot and was admitted to the New Zealand Bar in June 2002. This was a very special moment for me because it meant that I was able to wear a gown and one of those funny wigs which I first saw when I was six (solicitors in England don't get to wear wigs).

The intention was to stay in New Zealand for a year, but like a lot of people I quite liked the place, and some time later I'm still here practising employment law as a self employed barrister and running three businesses: Approachable Lawyer, Sportscounsel and The Sports Risk Management Group (the last two even allow me to combine my passion for law with my passion for sport).

Cases, cases, cases...

So in my eleven or so years of practice I have read numerous cases, helped many clients out of the mire and set up a number of businesses. That means not only am I a lawyer with an expertise in employment and sport, but I am also a businessman. I think that gives me a good insight into a number of problems my clients face. I also like to pride myself on my approachability - I always keep my clients informed as to what is going on and give realistic estimates of how long a job is going to take. But don't take my word for it, read some of the testimonials in the right hand column.

I hope you enjoy this site.

Regards,

Michael Smyth
Michael Smyth LLb.
ApproachableLawyer.Com