Employer Advisor, Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA)
Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts in Criminology
She has wanted to be a lawyer since she was nine years old, says Bethany Shepherd who completed a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology at AUT.
“I first became interested in becoming a lawyer after watching Boston Legal, and my interest in law stayed with me during high school as two of my teachers had previously been lawyers. Talking with them only made that interest grow. I’ve always enjoyed litigating and problem solving, and law was a great way to explore this.
“I was fortunate enough to receive a McDonald’s Tai Tokerau Scholarship to come to AUT, and once I attended the AUT open day I knew that this was the right university for me. AUT had a really good feel to it, and I liked the idea of a more interactive approach to studying as opposed to purely lectured-based learning.”
Throughout her time at AUT Bethany had a lot of great experiences.
“Moving from a small town north of Whangarei to Auckland was a big change, especially as none of my school friends came to AUT. But I found that AUT’s Māori Liaison team and other student services helped me ease into uni life. I made a lot of great friends and connections, largely due to the communal approach at AUT. Being able to get practical experience within my chosen field was one of the best parts of AUT’s degree structure. I also enjoyed being able to serve as the president of Te Aro Ture, the Māori Law Students’ Society, in 2018.”
A rewarding law career
Now working as an employer advisor for the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA), Bethany enjoys providing legal advice to a range of businesses and manufacturers.
“I’m responsible for providing legal advice to businesses in a range of areas including employment law, health and safety, unions and collective bargaining and general HR management. It’s a very hands-on role, and we hear queries from small businesses with five employees to large scale business with offices across New Zealand and Australia. It’s always engaging and challenging me to adapt to different issues while also giving practical legal advice.”
There are a number of achievements she is particularly proud of in her career so far.
“I was admitted to the bar in November 2020, after being delayed for most of the year due to COVID-19. That was a huge accomplishment for me as it was the last thing I needed to tick off in my journey to becoming a lawyer; the first lawyer in my immediate and wider whānau. Another thing I’m especially proud of is assisting a colleague in collective bargaining for a national collective agreement. That has been one of my highlights to date at the EMA.”
Advice for other students
Having graduated from AUT in 2019, Bethany has some great advice for other students.
“Don’t stress about being in the right degree from day one; choose something you’re passionate about because it makes it so much more enjoyable. AUT has a range of options and pathways and sometimes it takes a minute to find what you really enjoy, so utilise the services and experiences AUT provides.”
Make sure you have a great support system in place, she adds.
“The right support system makes all the difference if you feel like you want to stop or if you’re hitting a wall. It’s so much harder to come back from a break than it is to push through to the end.”