Kirsten Massey, Herbert Smith FreehillsName: Kirsten Massey

Firm: Herbert Smith Freehills

Position: Partner

In Hot 100 for: The £12bn RBS rights issue litigation. Read her full Hot 100 profile.

What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?

I am a New Zealander and studied and qualified as a barrister and solicitor there, so I was never a trainee in the English sense. After finishing university, I went to clerk for Justice Tipping at the New Zealand Court of Appeal for two years and then joined the litigation department of Russell McVeagh’s Wellington office. 

My most vivid memory is sitting in the office of the then President of the Court of Appeal, surrounded by him and three other Court of Appeal judges, interviewing for the clerking role. I was in my final year of law school, dressed in the first suit that I had ever owned (purchased with money that was meant to feed me for the next month), hoping to hold my own in an interview with four of the best legal minds in the country. It was incredibly daunting, but that made it all the more satisfying when I was offered the role.

Who has been the most influential person in your career? Why, and how have they helped you?

I really can’t pick just one. Both Justice Tipping and Stephen Kos (who I worked for at Russell McVeagh and is now President of the New Zealand Court of Appeal), were hugely influential in the early part of my career. They both had brilliant minds and showed me the real skill in being able to distil complex matters into pithy and compelling arguments.

Then Kevin Lloyd at Herbert Smith picked up the baton when I arrived in London. He is another great lawyer, who introduced me to such interesting and challenging work, and was also a fantastic mentor and supporter to me.

 What was the best career decision you ever made, and why?

Definitely, the decision to join Herbert Smith when I came to London in 2004. I originally came to London intending to stay for two to three years and it has been 13. That is a testament to the quality of the work and the people that I am lucky enough to work with, which is outstanding. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?

Try to do work that you enjoy with people that you enjoy working with and you can’t really go wrong – and they’ll make the working hard bit that much more bearable.

What work or career-related project or activity would you really like to do, but don’t have time for?

I would like to build a strong and vibrant New Zealand lawyers network here in London. While there are lots of wonderful ad hoc events, it would be great to establish something a little more co-ordinated to engage with the talented lawyers that are over here, doing such a diverse range of work, and share their experience.