Get to know Fee Langstone: Virginia Wethey

How long have you been practicing law and how long have you been working at FL/ Jones Fee?

I have been practising about 17 years now, which is hard to believe.  There have been a few interruptions along the way with travel and babies, but it doesn’t feel like that long! This is my second time at JF/FL.  I first started as a law graduate back in 1999.  Although I was only at the firm for just over 2 years I had a hugely rewarding time, very quickly adapting to the “work hard/play hard(er) culture”.  I then went to the UK for the standard OE experience, but ended up staying for nearly 10 years.  When I returned to NZ I got in touch with the partners and was welcomed back on board -- that was in 2011, so I have accrued another 6 years with the firm.

You spent nearly 10 years in the UK, what type of work did you do there?

I worked at 2 large, well-regarded law firms specialising in insurance litigation, mainly professional indemnity claims.  So my work wasn’t that much different to what I do at FL, although it was probably more specialised in my later years.  Professional Indemnity work is so huge in the UK there are whole legal teams who just work on construction PI claims, or solicitors PI claims.  I tried to keep as generalised as I could but by the end I was mainly working on brokers, construction and lenders' claims. It was a fantastic experience and I loved working in the “home” of insurance, right next to Lloyds and Leadenhall Markets. 

What made you return to JF/FL?

As I said earlier, I had a wonderful experience at JF as a law graduate.  It had (and has) a great work environment and high quality work.  So it was my first port of call when I returned to NZ – and fortunately they wanted me back too!

Why did you decide to work in the insurance industry?

I never consciously decided to work in the insurance industry.  I wanted to do civil litigation and get some court experience.  A family friend suggested that I try the insurance practices when I graduated given they acted on so many civil cases.  It was excellent advice and led me to Jones Fee.  But I think it was my time in London that increased my real interest in insurance and the industry as a whole.  And working on brokers' PI claims introduced me to so many different types of insurance risk – reinsurance, bankers blanket bond, D&O, property – it was a great way to get to know the industry and understand how it works. 

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

Inspector Gadget extendable arms and legs.  Inspector Gadget was a cartoon when I was a kid and he had gadgets for all situations including extendable legs and arms so that he could jump over buildings or grab things from great distances.  I think extendable arms and legs would bring multi-tasking to a whole new level!