While the economic cycle over the last 12 months has seen costs increase, impacting local businesses – including HOBEC and their staff and clients – James is optimistic about the long term. "The fundamentals that make Rotorua a great place to live, work and play will always remain."
James McDougall - Holland Beckett Law
After practising law in Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland, and most recently two years in London, James McDougall said when he and his partner were deciding where in New Zealand to locate themselves, they chose Rotorua to settle in and start a family.
“The attraction was the Rotorua lifestyle – the lakes, forest, and multicultural aspect – and the opportunity with Holland Beckett,” he says. “I had come to Rotorua as a child to see grandparents during holidays, but otherwise my partner Caitlin and I didn’t have any connection.”
An experienced litigator, James is a Partner at Holland Beckett Law (HOBEC), leading the Rotorua litigation team and advising clients on a broad range of issues.
While HOBEC has been in Rotorua for 10 years, the firm has been in business for 85. The Rotorua team has been steadily growing and currently employs 19 locals.
James says HOBEC’s success is partly due to understanding their client’s needs and providing sound legal advice. They also assist businesses and iwi organisations to grow, achieve their goals and manage risks, resulting in a more resilient and growing economy. But there’s more to it than that, he says.
“We recognise that we exist to serve the community. We do this through assisting businesses and individuals with their legal needs, but just as importantly, through volunteering and pro-bono work. All staff are encouraged to volunteer their expertise and time to community organisations and causes they are passionate about.
Various charities, trusts and sports organisations are some of the recipients of pro-bono work. Staff sit as trustees and committee members on various community and national organisations that work within Rotorua and the surrounding area. They also sponsor and make donations to other organisations. James himself is a trustee of the Rotorua Bike Festival Trust and sits on other community committees.
A recent highlight for the firm was establishing a summer clerking programme with Pukeroa Oruawhata and Ngāti Whakaue for Ngāti Whakaue law students.
“The programme provides the students with an opportunity to gain experience working in a local law firm and reinforces that there are great roles available here in Rotorua in which they can further their careers and be involved in their community. We were pleased to offer our first Ngāti Whakaue clerk a permanent graduate role on the back of their enthusiasm, contributions and potential to help develop them into a great lawyer and iwi leader.”
Another highlight from last year was an enhanced parental leave policy to better support our staff and their families. Primary carers receive six months of full pay, employer KiwiSaver contributions, and assistance with returning to work. Secondary carers receive four weeks of fully paid leave which can be used over 12 months, and both are entitled to special leave leading up to the birth or adoption of their child.
While the economic cycle over the last 12 months has seen costs increase, impacting local businesses – including HOBEC and their staff and clients – James is optimistic about the long term.
“The fundamentals that make Rotorua a great place to live, work and play will always remain. The city seems to be bouncing back and key industries holding their own. There are opportunities for Rotorua and it is important we avoid reactive, short-sighted decisions. Key organisations and businesses need to continue to lead, plan and invest in the city and its strategic direction.”