Defining ‘Power’ is not the easiest of jobs, to be sure. However we are up to it, to the extent that through appropriately judicious surveying of many top clients, lawyers and other law industry participants we have compiled the second, annual LawFuel Power List.
We have retained our exclusion of judicial officers and politicians. Clearly they have power and we don’t intend rating that – not currently at least.
We have instead focused upon practising lawyers and those who may not be practising directly in terms of holding a practising certificate or handling any day-to-day legal work but who nonetheless carry out clear legal functions and have a strong background in law.
A good case in point is top lister Mark Berry (No. 3) from the Commerce Commission. His ‘legal work’ may be minimal, but his legal power and his control over legal processes is so significant that we could not omit his name.
Similarly Treasury counsel Jeremy Salmond (No. 6) may be far removed from a practising lawyer but his power over those who act on Treasury and government-related matters is so significant that he deserves a lofty position in the list.
There are others too in the list, Crown Law, FMA and others.
Others have large commercial power through their control of both in-house legal teams and their direction of large law firms. Still others ‘make it alone’ to the extent that they have become central figures in the profession through their direct work in it: witness Jim Farmer or Alan Galbraith.
Others who have come through the law firm ranks in recent times to significant commercial positions, such as Mark Verbiest, are still ranked despite their removal from the day-to-day legal grind. Their law roles remain highly significant as does their control over those who act for those in respect of which they have governance roles.
But power is also more than position. A powerful law job does not a powerful lawyer make and seat warming is no easy route to achieving a ranking on the Power List. The listees are those who nt nly have power, sought or otherwise, and rather focuses on those who have the capability and skills to wield it effectively.
As always, we exclude the Judges, the politicans and others. Clearly Attorney General Chris Finlayson is the leading lawyer in the country in terms of (latin). His absolute power is such that his work with the profession and the law is such that he holds an entirely dominant position in the profession.
There will be disagreements, some heated, but the List remains the result of extensive surveying and questioning and feedback is welcome.
Ultimately, “power” is not so much the man or woman, but rather the way in which it is exercised. As Plato said: “The measure of a man is what he does with power”.