Upskilling in New Zealand law

Denise Roux
  • Registered legal executive, Langdon & Co

Since landing in New Zealand from South Africa in 2009, Denise Roux has taken her legal career to new heights, recently being named New Zealand’s top legal executive graduate following completion of the New Zealand Law Society Legal Executive Diploma with Open Polytechnic. 

Big changes

Denise made the move to New Zealand with her husband and one of their two children after having worked in a South African law firm for 13 years.  Upon arriving in New Zealand, Denise applied to work at Langdon & Co, a law firm in Takapuna, and was employed as a Legal Secretary. Given her limited experience with New Zealand’s legal system, Denise was recommended the New Zealand Law Society Legal Executive Diploma by her employer, Peter Langdon who suggested she enrol as a way to become more familiar with the law and enhance her career opportunities within the firm.

Having recently purchased a house and with a mortgage to pay, distance learning was the only option for Denise as she needed to continue to work full-time.  Upon researching her options, Denise found that Open Polytechnic, New Zealand’s leading provider of distance and online learning, was one of the only institutions to offer the diploma by distance. “I could study in my own time, slotting my studying in between working.  I could read and understand the material at my own pace and re-examine areas I did not fully understand,” says Denise.

Study support

Throughout her study journey, Denise often pushed herself and used her initiative to seek out the answers to her questions. “Once you have found the answer yourself, you tend to remember it better than simply being told the answer,” says Denise. When she needed extra support or clarification however, Denise found that Open Polytechnic staff and resources were always readily available to her. “Open Polytechnic’s service was amazing.  I found the study material was easy to read, concise and up-to-date. The newsletters were informative and any changes in legislation were relayed and explained to us expeditiously,” says Denise. “Moreover, all of my telephone and email queries were handled expertly and speedily by Open Polytechnic support staff.”

In addition to the support she received from Open Polytechnic, Denise also received encouragement in the workplace.  “My employer, Peter Langdon has always been very supportive throughout my studies and all my colleagues are very proud of my achievement since they are the ones who encouraged me to enrol.” In addition to juggling family, work and study commitments, Denise also finished her last year of study whilst undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer. “I am happy to report that, not only did I complete my diploma, but I am also cancer free,” says Denise.

Top graduate

Upon completion of her diploma in 2015, Denise was named the top graduate in the New Zealand Law Society Legal Executive Diploma. For her efforts, Denise received prizes from the New Zealand Institute of Legal Executives as well as from Thomson Reuters New Zealand.  “When I was informed of my achievement, I was shocked and then gratified that all the hard work and long hours of studying over  the last four years had paid off. I still can’t quite believe it”, says Denise.

Now that her studies are complete, Denise is looking forward to using her free time to renovate her home and enjoy the New Zealand countryside with her family and dog, Rex. Denise continues to work at Langdon & Co, her role now is as a Registered Legal Executive. Her ambition is to continue to excel in her position while growing her client base and increasing repeat business. “In completing my diploma, I proved to myself that you are never too old to learn new things.  I have also learnt that whatever life throws at you, you can overcome anything to reach your goals…. Never give up.”

You are never too old to learn new things. I have also learnt that whatever life throws at you, you can overcome anything to reach your goals.