As the head of AWS Legal’s Rural Team, Fraser McKenzie has been a key adviser during the southern farming boom, an upturn that’s changed the way the sector does business.
During the past three decades, he’s helped many millions of dollars change hands, with rural transactions.
“The way farms are run today is a far cry from when I first started, but we’ve grown with the times to meet the changing needs of our rural clients.”
While Fraser has a broad grounding in general law, he chose to specialise in the rural area. He and his team provide support ranging from farm sales, financing, leases and sharemilking agreements to wills and farm succession.
“You need to have a real commitment to a field if you want to become a specialist – especially if you’re going to keep pace with an area as dynamic as farming,” Fraser says.
AWS Legal’s emphasis on making the most of technology has enabled the Rural Team to mobilise, offering a flexible, accessible service, which clients appreciate.
“They can’t just shut down their business and travel half a day to see a lawyer sitting in a city office,” Fraser says.
“Travelling to the client is simply us recognising that their business is just as important, if not more, than ours.”
The rural surge has brought increasing legal challenges. Fraser favours prevention over cure.
“We encourage our clients to have the proper contracts in place from the outset – we want to be the fence at the top of the cliff, not the ambulance at the bottom.”
Fraser graduated from Otago University in 1978. After working at another city law firm and travelling overseas, he joined Watson Savage in 1981, making Partner just three years later.
His passion for law has not waned.
“I still really enjoy coming to work, particularly getting out and visiting clients on their turf,” he says.
For a rural law specialist, it’s not surprising that Fraser heads straight outdoors during his free time, boating, fishing, skiing and fourwheel driving.