Managing Partner of the Year (less than 100 Lawyers)

October 2019

We are delighted with Mark Lowndes’ nomination as a finalist in the New Zealand Law Awards Managing Partner of the Year (<100 lawyers) category for the second year running.

Mark Lowndes has led law firms since the age of 26 and has made a career of innovation in the legal industry.  He is a talented lawyer recognised in international law firm directories, and a strong business leader with a determination for excellence and elegance in all aspects of the firm. As a result Lowndes has attracted a leading team of experts executing sophisticated and complex specialist work for sought after clients.

Innovation is a key theme throughout Mark’s career.  He introduced the concept of the boutique commercial law firm in 1986 with what is now Lowndes Jordan which was the first law firm to be ISO9001certified.  He is an early adopter of technology: in 1986 he had computers on all lawyers’ desks, by 1988 he had an internal email system and in 1995 he adopted internet connectivity. In 1997 Mark formed Lowndes with an innovative corporate structure which separated legal practice from firm management leaving the specialist legal talent to focus on our clients while an experienced management team led by Mark ran the business.  He developed a unique model of profit sharing allowing the partners to do what they do best and be rewarded accordingly while able to take time away from their busy careers to travel or spend time with their family without the pressure of budgets created by the traditional partnership model. This model remains innovative and reflects New Law thinking despite being 22 years old at Lowndes.

Sustainability and Corporate Sustainability have become a priority. These issues have been well addressed within Lowndes since early on. In 2007 Mark led Lowndes through the Enviro-Mark Solutions CarboNZero certification process to become NZ’s first carbon neutral law firm. This year Lowndes was one of 5 businesses nominated for Excellence in Climate Action (small footprint organisation).  Mark ensures that the firm also has an active Community Contribution programme.

Lowndes has a strong international footprint with over a third of our work coming from overseas clients. Mark has for years led, or co-led, Lowndes’ main international relationships. The firm is the sole New Zealand representative of Multilaw (ranked as an Elite international law firm network by Chambers and of which Mark was a recent global Chair), Legalink (ranked as a Leading network by Chambers) and the International Network of Boutique and Independent Law Firms. Mark is Vice Chair of the Legal Practice Committee of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association. Thanks to director Michael McCarthy, Lowndes is also a member of the Nextlaw network.

For some years Lowndes has run a flexible Parents-in-Law programme created to enable parents to focus on meeting client needs and not on where and when they work. In 2016 NZ Lawyer ran an  article on this programme.

In 2017 Mark initiated a programme which is an ongoing structured conversation with our lawyers to discuss what lawyers want in a law firm.  We now run the programme with support staff.

Flexibility is a priority for many now, and we are rolling out flexibility initiatives alongside other workplace initiatives that arise from our structured ongoing conversation with our team.  Mark believes that a happy, engaged, rewarded team is the first step to a great client experience. Focussing on the Gender Equality Charter guidelines, a recent internal audit demonstrated that Lowndes has already achieved pay parity.  The next step is to achieve gender equality on the board which is currently sitting at 30%. Lowndes has a female Business Manager.

Another area of inspired leadership is the development of the Lowndes brand as thought leader through the Business Intelligence Series of breakfast workshops which started 17 years ago, see www.business-intelligence.co.nz.  These workshops have an audience of some 120 business people each session.  The key to the success of these workshops is consistent excellence in delivery by key business speakers and staying true to the principal of providing practical and directly applicable thought leadership to business owners and decision makers.

Mark constantly strives for excellence in technical ability and service delivery.  Repeat instructions from international clients with complex work is evidence that Lowndes is achieving that.  About 30% of the firm’s revenue is from overseas. Mark has led Lowndes’ recognition in all four leading international law firm directories over 8 areas of the law.  Mark has also been individually recognised as a leading lawyer in corporate and commercial law by Chambers & Partners, Legal500 and Asia Law Profiles, and in technology and telecommunications law by IFLR1000 and Best Lawyers.

In the end however a law firm’s strength is measured by the quality of the legal team. The strong focus on management and innovation has helped to attract a leading team of directors and other talented lawyers who are legal experts in their fields.

Congratulations Mark, well deserved.  And congratulations to the other finalists.


Lowndes is an award winning corporate and commercial law firm with offices in the heart of Auckland and Wellington. The firm serves local and international companies and investors doing business in New Zealand.

We are recognised for our technical expertise and exceptional client service including high levels of responsiveness and reliability, accessibility of our lawyers, and an unwavering focus on what matters – our clients’ commercial outcomes.