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Source: University of Waikato

Wayne Hofer is a Covid-19 returnee. It’s one of his many titles including Senior Associate, husband and father, triathlete, and University of Waikato alumnus.

In May 2020, Wayne unexpectedly returned to New Zealand from the Caribbean, where he and his family had recently relocated after taking up a Senior Associate Attorney role at a local law firm. Wayne’s wife returned to New Zealand in March 2020 to prepare for the birth of their second child when the borders started to close. Wayne escaped the Caribbean on a private charter during the country’s extended border closures and made it back to New Zealand just in time for the birth of his daughter. He soon started at Tompkins Wake in Hamilton as a Senior Associate where he is enjoying work with a great team.

Wayne transferred his law degree to Waikato after his first year of studying at Auckland University. “Waikato became the proving ground for me because I had always done just enough at school to get by and Waikato was the first place where I fully applied myself. I have very fond memories and it gave me many takeaways for the future.”

Wayne worked hard at Waikato, where he gained honours and won competitions. “A highlight for me was winning the Waikato mooting competition. As a result of that win, I went to the Australasian competition in Canberra and then to New Zealand nationals in Christchurch. From that experience, I received a summer clerk job interview at Simpson Grierson and gained my first graduate role after a successful summer internship.”

Wayne says he appreciated Te Piringa – Faculty of Law’s problem-solving approach to learning. “Waikato set me up for the practicality of law, there was a great focus on how to fix a problem. That has helped me stand out in my career.”

Wayne’s career has provided him with many exciting opportunities, including working in London for American firm, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. “It’s the oldest firm in the US and is a litigation powerhouse. I was fortunate to get a job in its London office which took me to many countries doing exciting work – including one case, where through interlocutory litigation strategy we saved a client 80 million pounds. It was pretty fun.”

Another case involved working on a half-billion dollar fraud case in Tanzania. “I flew to Tanzania several times a year and worked closely with a QC from one of the best chambers in London. I don’t think that would have been possible had it not been for the skills I gained at university.”

He is grateful to Waikato for seeing his potential during his law degree. “The opportunities I have had over the past decade are solely due to Waikato. I am very grateful to Te Piringa – Faculty of Law. I try to never take it for granted and to keep my feet on the ground because I come from a humble background.”

Wayne also competes in triathlons, and has represented New Zealand in age group events. “What we [lawyers] do can be stressful and we need some sort of outlet. Triathlons became a stress release. After a long day, I can smash out a training session and start the next day completely stress-free.”

Now back in Hamilton permanently, Wayne is extremely happy at Tompkins Wake. “My wife and I chose to settle in Hamilton to be close to family. Our OE was cut short because of Covid which was frustrating but we are hardly the most affected by the pandemic. For us it’s about looking forward, working hard career-wise and now we also have our children to focus on.” As a firm, Tompkins Wake has a great culture that overlaps with Wayne’s family culture. “I have whānau at work and at home, it’s great.”

Wayne’s message to the current Waikato student is this, “Know that when you work hard to achieve something, the opportunities will come and your teachers are interested in helping you succeed.”

MIL OSI