WORDS MONIQUE BALVERT-O’CONNOR / PHOTOS QUINN O’CONNELL
Business in Tauranga is booming. Our city is becoming nationally renowned for an expanding business sector in which entrepreneurialism and innovation are very much at home. In order to support this growth and momentum and make sure everyone’s putting their best foot forward, we need killer professional services. Working away quietly in the background are practices like Sharp Tudhope, which has a team hardwired to help the region to succeed and expand.
It may be Tauranga’s oldest law firm, but there’s some impressive young blood within Sharp Tudhope’s hallowed halls, cementing its reputation as one of the region’s best commercial teams.
This full-service legal firm has recently welcomed three young lawyers with strong commercial and corporate acumen. All have top-notch work experience, having cut their teeth at top-tier firms throughout New Zealand and overseas. These high-flyers are partner Richard Hoare, and associates Jessie McKenzie and Jodi Ellmers, all of whom chose to join Sharp Tudhope for its exemplary reputation, work opportunities and exposure, and supportive and flexible workplace culture. They were happy indeed to be snapped up and believe exciting opportunities abound.
Richard, Jessie and Jodi have joined a strong team that’s focused on the commercial aspect of law and provides expert legal advice to all industries and various-sized enterprises – everyone from sole traders to large corporations, and start-ups too.
Richard, who left a career in Melbourne to take up his Sharp Tudhope job offer, says it’s heartening to see many high-quality companies based in Tauranga – companies that see the area as a place to come and invest. His clients include those in the business start-up sector, and in Tauranga that’s a busy space. It’s a “really healthy” scene with better things to come, he predicts, and Tauranga’s ready for it, with a growing network of people willing and able to give entrepreneurs the support they need.
“People who are moving to the Bay of Plenty either already have the start-up bug or realise that if they really want to control their destiny, they ought to go it alone,” says Richard. “I think it’s important to have passionate people creating opportunities at different
levels – and you can see that coming together here.”
The three new recruits are enjoying working in a dynamic environment, in a firm that has been growing with Tauranga since 1896 and is forever passionate about keeping in step with the needs of its growing city. Turn the page to learn more about these bright young things and some of the projects they’re working on.
Helping a talented racing-car driver to achieve his dreams is just another day at the office for Jessie. “Whether advising clients on capital raising for rural land-based investments, or advising participants in the motor-vehicle industry on import and distribution arrangements, no two working days are the same in my world,” she says.
Then there’s her pro-bono work, which includes contractual arrangements that enable young motor-racing driver Liam Lawson (pictured above) to compete in Europe. Success stories like his fuel her enthusiasm for her chosen career.
Jessie arrived in Tauranga from Invercargill earlier this year with numerous strings to her bow. She has held a dairy sector governance role and was on a research ethics committee in the tertiary education sector. She brings to Sharp Tudhope expertise in energy law and continues to work in this area, advising the firm’s clients who own generation assets or require electrical work. Capital raising is also part of her mandate, and she works alongsideSharp Tudhope’s property team on commercial property projects.
Recently Jessie, has been advising MyFarm Investments on rural syndications. “It’s great to be involved throughout the process, from initial capital raising through to investment,” she says. “MyFarm’s rural knowledge and tried-and-true syndication model allows them to pursue a variety of investments. We’ve already set up successful syndications for kiwifruit and apple orchards, and we’re underway with one for the development of New Zealand’s largest hop garden. It’s exciting.
“Having moved from litigation to commercial law, I’ve seen the difference between parties arguing over how to divide a loss and parties who are working together to share a profit,” says Jessie. The world of corporate/commercial law is where she’s happy to hang her hat.
Richard’s feet had no sooner hit the ground at Sharp Tudhope when he got involved in Enterprise Angels. The Tauranga-based organisation is a “really vibrant” membership-based investment network, and Sharp Thudhope is a corporate partner.
“The organisation does a great job, with regular member meetings where start-ups from all over New Zealand come to pitch to members to try to raise investment,” says Richard.
Some great local companies have benefited from Enterprise Angels’ member investments – electric motorbike company Ubco Bikes, tech company SwipedOn and Heilala Vanilla, to name a few. Richard’s involvement includes serving on due-diligence committees to review the companies pitching for investment. “It’s a great forum in which to meet people and get to know the local investment and start-up community,” he says.
He’s also involved with Venture Centre, which operates co-working space Basestation and holds events aimed at fostering a local start-up culture and helping entrepreneurs. Richard assists at Venture Centre’s Angelic Drop-In Clinics at Basestation; anyone can stop by to meet investors and professionals, and to discuss their business ideas and angel-investment opportunities.
Beyond this work, buying and selling businesses is Richard’s speciality and his clients include those who have relocated to the Bay of Plenty. His job sheet also includes logistics and kiwifruit post-harvest operators. He says he loves this fusion of law and business.
He’s also extremely happy to work for a company where a drive for excellence is mixed with an acknowledgement that there’s more to life than just the previous day’s results at the office.
Law keeps Jodi on her toes. She loves the broad spectrum of challenges, the excitement, and the camaraderie that includes group problem-solving and bouncing ideas off one another. “But most importantly, I love that my job involves getting to know what’s important to my clients and what they want to achieve, and then doing all that I can
to ensure it happens,” she says.
She too thrives on the variety. One day her focus might be on the motor industry, and the next it’s on the film industry. “Recent work involved acting for a client investing in a film,” she says. “There’s an extensive suite of documents that are involved in producing a film, which I reviewed to ensure my client’s interests were protected. It required thinking outside the box to ensure every angle was covered.
“I love that commercial and corporate law is about making such positive things occur. In a nutshell, our clients want to enter into a transaction or put in place an arrangement that will benefit them in some way, and we help to make that happen. It’s great having the chance to work on different issues and opportunities with people.”
One of Jodi’s first assignments at Sharp Tudhope is a case in point. It was the
sale of the majority of a locally owned and operated business to an overseas company. “As the vendors’ lawyer, it was my job to make sure their commercial and personal interests were protected and that they benefited as much as possible from their years of hard work – which I found exciting, challenging and very rewarding.”
FIND more information at: SHARPTUDHOPE.CO.NZ