Each year, around December, I start to formulate a list that will become my ‘New Year’s goals’ for the next year. There is nothing I enjoy more than setting goals and trying to reach them! It is something I am good at. Set me a target, an outcome, a wish- sometimes the crazier the better- and I will find a way to achieve it.
For the last 2 years I have had a goal that I have not managed to quite get off the ground and that is to write a book. Until recently I didn’t know why I wanted to write a book but I knew I wanted to ‘write a book’. What is the book on you ask? Well that I am not entirely sure of. I have a title-‘Splitsville- the how to guide for people navigating the world of separation’. I have the cover artwork- bold colour, great design and no doubt some sparkly gold- but the actual point to the book- well that has eluded me for some time.
For the past 2 days I have been asked to think about things in my life and particularly my business life that I have never before considered. Simple things that are actually so complicated- Why do I do what I do? What am I passionate about in my life? What do I want to be known for?
I am a family lawyer and yet it is often the last thing I reveal to people who don’t know me in business. My hairdresser who I have been seeing for almost 2 years recently said to me how shocked he was to discover that I am a lawyer. To me it was just not something I thought necessary to discuss when I am in that peaceful place that is the hair salon.
The thing is, I am a family lawyer- a good one- but what allows me to enjoy my work and perhaps even be talented at it is the fact that I spend most of my time trying to be anything but a ‘lawyer’. My office looks like an ice cream parlour, my wardrobe of floral Alannah Hill designs just does not fit the corporate mould. Each piece of furniture, stationary and artwork around me is carefully selected as all of this makes me happy.
In being forced yesterday to identify what is really important to me I have (for this week anyway) distilled it down to 2 things- relationships and creativity.
I live for my relationships. I am in the business of relationships.
I absolutely love creativity- painting, designing, sewing, arranging things, choosing colours, playing with fonts, editing photos, making videos, painting with my daughter, building with my husband, dancing and writing.
Writing. I love to write. If the topic is important to me I could write for hours. I realised today that I have not been able to achieve my goal of writing my book as I was missing the purpose of that book.
So what has all this got to do with Family Law?
Five years ago I set up a Family Law Firm as I knew that there had to be a better way to help families through separation and divorce than what I call the ‘traditional legal approach’. Lawyers are trained to solve their client’s problems and provide the optimum solution. This normally creates a ‘win/lose’ environment. In family law the loss I see for clients is far more than a percentage share of the home. The loss is almost unquantifiable. We can quantify the legal fees, thousands of dollars later, but we cannot quantify the personal loss, the emotional consequences and the future impacts on families who cannot pass in the street.
I want to change the way families experience divorce and separation. To do this, I will need to change the way lawyers practice family law.
I am often told I have a ‘different way of doing things’. The challenge in that statement is that I only know my way- it comes to me naturally, I don’t have to think and it is what I do. We are all the same in this way- there is something we each do, something that to us is just innate and something that we don’t even have to think about.
I am a Happy Family Lawyer. I enjoy my job. It makes me happy. Why? Well that is the bit that I plan to work out.
So back to that book? Tonight I have taken the plunge and I have started my book. Here it is. On this page. Whilst it seems a jumble of thoughts right now I figure that if I share those thoughts, whilst focusing on my passion, my book will start to write itself.
My book- whatever the title, and whatever the cute cover, will no doubt be a step toward me changing the way families experience separation and divorce and hopefully changing the way family lawyers practice family law.
Just imagine if all family lawyers were happy.