Can you give us an overview of the legal function at NZME and how it supports the work of the company.
New Zealand Media & Entertainment (NZME) is unique in the media landscape in New Zealand. We are a listed, integrated media company including digital, radio and print media platforms.
Our small (3 person!) Legal Team supports the whole NZME group cross-functionally, advising our newsrooms (New Zealand Herald and regional news titles), radio businesses (NewstalkZB, Radio Sport, Radio Hauraki, ZM, The Hits, Flava, Coast, Mix, Hokonui and iheartradio.co.nz), digital teams (OneRoof.co.nz, grabone.co.nz, driven.co.nz etc.), commercial teams (selling digital, print and radio advertising across our platforms) – everyone, all across the country (1500 people across 40 offices).
The scope of our legal advice is correspondingly wide. We jump from advising on defamation, reviewing stories for tomorrow’s newspapers and challenging name suppression through the Courts - to reviewing and negotiating advertising agreements, JV agreements, music licences - to supporting our IT team with new software agreements - to partnering with our Culture and Performance Team - to listed company compliance, corporate governance and company secretarial services. We help get things across the line and put out fires when they alight. There is never a dull day!
What do you see as the key challenges facing the team and how do you plan to address these?
Our time pressured environment means that our advice needs to be quick and commercially appropriate to the particular part of the NZME group we are assisting. The varied functions of the business mean our internal clients often don’t know our capacity, which can make juggling difficult. Prioritisation, communication and great relationships help us manage these tensions. Media law is a big part of what we do and there is little that is black and white in this fascinating area of the law – bouncing ideas and perspectives off each other and our external advisors helps us to land on the appropriate shade of grey!
What do you do to enhance the influence of the in-house legal function across the organisation?
We are clear that our function is not intended to hinder creativity or growth - instead we work with teams to find solutions that are risk appropriate and deliver results. We are business partners, not business preventers.
We engage with the business through regular training sessions across the business – media law training for our journalists, BSA Codes training for our on-air talent, privacy and data security training, social media dos and don’ts – these all help to build our relationship with teams across the business and to be seen as trusted advisors and business enablers.
What are the skills and attributes you look for when recruiting new lawyers for NZME?
In our team, you need to roll with the punches, trust your ability, be confident in your advice and have fun with your role! It’s an exciting business and you can jump into some exciting projects and legal crusades. To do that our people need to be: comfortable with constant and rapid change, excellent communicators and easily able to adapt to wrangle the huge range of fabulous people and fascinating issues we encounter at NZME.
Are there any changes or new technologies you planning to roll out in the next 12 months?
We have recently migrated to Microsoft Office 365. We find the Team Planner in particular very useful for sorting, delegating and tracking tasks, and as a base for discussion at our weekly team WIP meetings. In the coming year we plan to continue to work with our IT team to make use of the functionality available to us through the suite of products.
We are also looking to digitise some of our forms and contract templates, in particular the contract approval and execution process.