Growing up in Nelson, followed by high school in Christchurch, university in Dunedin and now the newest member of the Aspiring Law team in Wanaka, Lily Barnes' life has been a tiki tour around the South Island.
Lily calls Christchurch home but she’s lived and worked in Arrowtown and Queenstown for the last two years and she jumped at the opportunity to work in Wanaka.
“I knew about Aspiring Law before I applied for the job,” she says. “It's a much smaller firm than what I've worked for before, but it's a firm that punches above its weight and it has a great relationship with the Wanaka community. That really appealed to me.”
Lily will be working with founding directors Janice Hughes and Mike Toepfer on the property and commercial side of things.
“They're both very well-regarded in the property and commercial areas and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into things.”
Lily initially studied art history at university but decided to switch to law instead.
“I was naturally drawn to English-based subjects at school,” she says. “I did an essay on Clarence Darrow, the famous American lawyer when I was at high school and that really inspired me. I really enjoy working with people and problem-solving, or solution-finding as some people like to call it, so working as a lawyer seemed like a good fit.”
Lily kicked off her career in Christchurch, just a few months after the earthquake in February 2011.
“I was finishing my final exams in Otago when the earthquake hit. I traveled up to Christchurch the next day to be with my family. Thankfully, they were okay. A few months later I found myself back in Christchurch working for the firm acting for the Crown in acquiring all of the red zone land. It was really interesting work and a very intense time. There was a big boom in Christchurch and a real urgency to make new land available so that people could rebuild. Christchurch is a great city now but it's been through a tough 10 years.”
In contrast, Lily has to pinch herself sometimes on her daily commute from her home in Arrowtown to Wanaka.
“I think more and more people are realising just how unique the lifestyle is in Central Otago. I’m new to Wanaka but, from speaking to Janice and Mike, it doesn't seem to be a town that is slowing down. In fact, it is ramping up and I’m just really looking forward to the opportunity to work on some of the big projects that Janice and Mike have got going on.”
As well as working on subdivision and commercial property developments, Lily is also looking forward to working with small businesses.
“I've been practicing for close to 10 years so I have a lot of experience working with small- to medium-sized businesses. I do like big project work but, equally, I like working with Mum and Dad clients that are buying a house or selling the business that they've worked tirelessly to build. I've experience in property development and I've also got a bit of experience in the viticulture and horticulture area which is important as we've got a lot of farmer clients and orchardists and whatnot.”
When Lily is not working, she enjoys walking her two dogs, riding her bike or getting out for a run.
“I do like to get outdoors. In winter, I think you’re a bit of a social leper in Wanaka if you don’t ski or snowboard! I’m not a natural born skier but I give it a good nudge. It seems to be almost compulsory if you want to work at Aspiring Law. There are so many nice vineyards to visit at the weekends and then there’s the lake of course. It’s a pretty special part of the world.”