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James Fletcher joins DLA Piper as NZ Chief Operating Officer

DLA Piper in New Zealand is pleased to announce the appointment of James Fletcher as NZ Chief Operating Officer with effect from 1 October 2021.

In making the announcement Country Managing Partner, Martin Wiseman says, "James is a leader for the times, experienced at CEO level, forward thinking and at home leading in a global matrix environment."

James is a highly capable senior executive with broad experience spanning a range of industries including construction, facilities management, legal and financial services, and the aviation and healthcare sectors.

James says he was attracted to working for a global law firm with genuine global reach, and the opportunity to leverage that advantage even further in the local market; “the feel and the fit” seemed good, he says.

James has been the interim CEO of New Zealand Growth Capital Partners, a Crown owned entity that invests in early -stage technology start-ups. He was brought in to transform the organisation by re-building culture, re-shaping the management team and implementing a strategic plan with supporting policies, practices and structure.

“There are obvious challenges for me in joining DLA Piper,” says James. “How do you help make a workplace better that already has a great team, great clients, exemplary collegiality and a ton of forward thinking? It isn’t a bad problem to have, but the thing is, there is little time to stand still in the profession now; there will be plenty to get my teeth into in the years ahead. And the past, now, is last year, not 10 years ago. We all appreciate this, so it’s a matter of employing specific strategies, like being alive to opportunities beyond existing areas of personal comfort and technological awareness."

James has previously been CEO of Treescape, a $100m arboriculture, horticulture and landscaping business with 640 employees in Australia and New Zealand. He transformed that business strategically and operationally as he led it through the first wave of Covid-19. Earlier, he led OCS’ and Spotless Facility Services’ NZ operations, with many thousands of staff providing a broad range of facilities management services to sectors such as Aviation, Defence, Education and Healthcare.

“DLA Piper is already a fabulous organisation” says James, “very well-run and embracing of change. Among the major law players here it has been consistently ahead of the pack with well-grounded inclusivity and diversity policies, and has taken a leadership position in gender equity and social mobility. Even so, the times we are going through are all transition times now, and I am especially looking forward to helping embed DLA Piper's Sustainability and ESG strategy.”

James and his wife Victoria have two teen daughters, Isobel and Alexandra, both keen sportswomen. They are a busy rowing, hockey and cycling family. When James isn’t out on his bike, his spare time is devoted to Kings School (he is on the board) and the Fletcher Trust, of which he is a trustee. His primary professional and private passion is education, seeking to make everything we do in our jobs better for us, all the time, and shaping workplaces into areas of inspiration and high achievement. He is also on the board of WorkSafe and a member of the Business Leaders Health and Safety Forum.

“In the end,” concludes James, “what I will bring to DLA Piper is simple; it is a question – how do we improve a way of working that is already improving all the time? That’s my job now.”

Martin also thanked interim COO, Libby Irwin, ‘We asked Libby to act in the role on an interim basis after she returned from a year as Head of HR for Australia and New Zealand for DLA Piper. I keep asking Libby to do more and she always over delivers". Libby will continue as the Head of HR for New Zealand.

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