Episode 129 – 10 Amazing Women Lawyers, 10 different paths in law and many lessons along the way to Celebrate International Women’s Day 2019
Friday the 8th of March is of course International Women’s Day and what better an opportunity than to celebrate some of the amazing women I have had on the show this last year. There have been many so picking just 10 was a little like having to choose your favourite children- not something that is ever really possible! But I have chosen this group of amazing guests for a few simple reasons- they are all amazing at what they do, they have all had to overcome some challenges along the way and in so doing made decisions, tooks chances and backed themselves showing us all that amazing things do happen when you take a leap of faith doubled with a strong dose of self belief.
We have come a long, long way when it comes to women and the law in our Country and this group of 10 for me illustrate just how far. From students to Judges this week is a reminder to us all that anything is possible with enough hard work.
Early last year in Episode 67 – I sat down with the wonderful Laura Vickers in sunny Melbourne (well it was sunny on that day anyway!)
Laura is a happy lawyer and has taken ownership of her future. She is my poster girl for my HAPPY acronym. Her ‘Attitude’ is reflected in all she says and does and she has purposefully created a career in the law that works for her, her family and her team. She has been rewarded as a result- both in having a successful business doing work that she loves but also in the tangible sense- having been formally recognised for her innovative approach to business and her work as a woman lawyer.
In this section of her interview Laura and I talk about:
- After losing a family member, having a child and not being able to get into childcare Laura opened her own online firm, Nest Legal.
- The journey of how Laura started her firm 5 years ago
- The difference between an online and bricks and mortar firm from Laura’s perspective as she has conducted both
- Laura explains the 168 hours concept and how she uses this to balance her work and family commitments
Next is the wonderful Cate Heyworth-Smith QC who joined me on Episode 70. I love Cate’s outlook on life. She does not take herself too seriously and I sense that this attitude is one of the secrets to her success. She is giving back to her community and is passionate about keeping good professional relationships in the industry.
In this section of her interview Cate and I talk about:
- Taking a chance and going to the Bar at a very young age
- Growing up with a father who loved his life as a Barrister and the impact this had on Cate’s decision to pursue law
- A few tips for anyone considering life as a Barrister
And then there was Episode 77 – with Shelby Timmins– a family lawyer who has now made a move entirely away from litigation to coaching, mediation and collaboration. ‘Giving yourself permission to do it’ is a something Shelby said that resonated with me in this interview. It really encapsulates her career to date. She has continued to study, continued to learn and continued to share her insight and talent to help others, not for the benefit of herself but to genuinely help separating families.
In this section of her interview Shelby and I talk about:
- How Shelby started out in major claims insurance and then moved to start her University education in Tasmania
- Shelby’s decision to move into family law and up to Sydney
- The decision to return to Australia and settle in Sydney to start a family
- Shelby’s decision to leave the traditional practice of law and start her now business, Divorce Done Differently a business which has enabled her more freedom to enjoy her family and passions
- Shelby’s practice is solely dispute resolution and loves this work
And then there was Episode 78 with Rebecca Treston QC. As Queen’s Counsel there is no doubting Rebecca’s career success, but in this interview it was her down to earth attitude, practical advice and passion for the law that had me hooked. Like so many of us in law, Rebecca is juggling motherhood, career, friendships and family and she does it all with a smile!
As a Senior member of the profession, Rebecca has built a very successful niche practice in the area of Succession Law but in this conversation I learned so much more about how and why she came to the law and still has the same passion for her work now as she did all those years ago when she first stepped foot in her Father’s firm.
In this section of her interview Rebecca and I talk about:
- It was Rebecca’s father’s career as a solicitor that sparked her interest in the law
- Growing up in Brisbane and her family connection to the law
- The transition that Rebecca has seen in the law
- Women in law-land and the Bar and Rebecca’s passion to see this more gender balanced
- Rebecca’s path to family and the reversed traditional roles of parents
Dominique Lamb joined me in Episode 79 and described how she found herself in the role of a CEO almost by chance. I learned about a ‘day in her life’ which I must say sounds like it is well extending her legal training as she takes on media, leadership, advocacy and mentorship. When it comes to happiness Dominique had much to share- she is a happy lawyer and credits much of that to her focus on health, exercise and self care. She clearly operates at an intense level in her work and yet I found her to have a deep sense of purpose and calm which I suspect is one of the secrets to her success.
- A day in her life as a CEO.
- What is involved in being in the Media Spotlight and the contrast between this and being a lawyer
- How law has given Dominique a good foundation for the responsibilities of a CEO.
- The role of women in senior business roles nationwide and Dominique’s thoughts on this. She notes that less than 8% of senior leadership roles are filled by Women
- Domonique is a self proclaimed planner but is passionate about taking opportunities that cross your path
- Domonique’s involvement in charities and loves the diversity it brings to her career
Episode 80 had me hanging out with another of Queensland’s greats- Barrister Caite Brewer. Caite operates a specialist practice in Estate litigation here in Brisbane. She is well known for her intellect and talent at the Bar but in this conversation, I learned so much more about the woman behind the Barrister’s gown.
- Caite knew from a young age she wanted to be a Barrister (all thanks to a few 1980’s TV shows!)
- The day after Caite finished high school she moved to Brisbane to study Law at QUT
- Like many of us, Caite at times struggled with the study of law but has since found her passion in the practice of her profession
- Caite’s decision to go straight to the Bar and become a Barrister early in her career- she had always wanted to be a Barrister and so she was at 21!
- Caite’s experience at the Bar and the comradery between Barristers
In Episode 108 I was with New Zealand’s own legal tech creator in Claudia King who has since become a true ‘spirit animal’ and a woman I have come to learn so much from. Life in the law was not unfamiliar to Claudia having grown up with a Dad who was a lawyer in their home town, New Plymouth. Fast forward a few years and Claudia found herself in partnership with her Dad as the two of them explored how they could use technology to improve their service. ‘Legal Beagle’ was born back in 2011- the first online legal service in New Zealand and so began Claudia’s foray into the world of start-ups, technology and entrepreneurship. In 2016 Claudia’s life turned upside down when she lost her father. Claudia shared openly how this event caused her to re-assess and re-think parts of her life and how she has found her way through.
- Claudia’s experience of then co-founding Automio with her Dad and where that adventure has now taken her
- Reassessing your goals after losing a loved one and the effect it has on our perspective
- Claudia believes in following the opportunities that come across your path
- Her early experience creating Legal Beagle which was the first online legal service in New Zealand.
- Mindfulness and being present in our daily lives
- How Facebook changed Claudia’s life and how a Facebook group gave her inspiration for starting her business
In Episode 112 Michelle May AM QC joined me having recently retired from many years on the Family Court. At a young age Michelle took silk and at around the same time, she and her husband welcomed triplet girls. If that wasn’t enough to keep them both busy, she was shortly thereafter appointed as a Judge in the Family Court. 22 years later, Michelle has much to share about living your best life in the law and I am grateful to have had the chance to capture some of her thoughts in this interview. My favourite tip- knowing people who are not lawyers and spending time with them!
- Michelle’s experience at University in the 1970s including smoking rooms!
- Michelle shares that her opportunities as a Women were no less than the men, she has continued this outlook all through her career
- Her experience starting out as a Judges Associate and some highlights from this experience
- Michelle was one of the first female family law focused barristers in her field and working with mostly men
- The Family Law Act came into effect while Michelle was a barrister and some of her highlights of this time
- Becoming a mum to triplets and a few insights into managing that juggle
- The supportive environment that Michelle experiences and as Judge and a Barrister
I haven’t had the chance to interview too many politicians on the show but in Episode 116 I sat down with Senator Amanda Stoker. I had not met Amanda prior to this interview but I very quickly felt a synergy with so much of what she had to say about her choice to pursue law, her love of art and creativity and of course her life as a wife and mum. I loved the chance to also understand what life as a politician really looks like and I think I have concluded that is not a job for me, but I also came to know that I am so grateful Australians, particularly women like Amanda, are willing to take on what must at times feel like an unforgiving challenge of sitting in Parliament, particularly in our current times.
- Her early years in law including a year as an Associate to Justice Ian Callinan in the High Court.
- Amanda’s decision to move to Brisbane and her experience initially in the Supreme Court again as an Associate before taking a role in the Commonwealth DPP
- What is involved in being an Associate of the High Court and the learning opportunities that come with this role
- We discussed the culture of a firm vs the culture in the Court and Amanda’s experience and learnings as a result
- Working with different judges and some of what Amanda learnt from those she worked for
- Amanda’s decision to become a Barrister and her experience at the private Bar
- Being a Mother and a Barrister as a woman and how Amanda made this work with the support of men in the field
And last but not least the lovely Kiarah Grace Kelly joined me in Episode 117. This interview is full of all the things I have come to love about Kiarah- her humorous way of communicating, her intellect and her positive outlook on life. Kiarah is a true representation of a young woman on a mission to leave her mark- a beautiful mark- on the world and I for one am looking forward to seeing just what she might achieve. She put it perfectly when she said we all need to ‘Be our own biggest fan’ and I sense that is perfect advice no matter your age or stage.
- Kiarah’s experience at University and how she initially struggled to find her feet.
- Imposter syndrome and how Kiarah managed the expectation and pressure of her GPA results International Women’s Day Special
- Kiarah’s decision during her degree to position herself to pursue a career as a Family Lawyer and how she went about doing this
- Taking every opportunity that comes your way as well as the importance of making sure you are standing right where the opportunities might come!
- Kiarah’s advice for students new to studying Law
Sit back and enjoy these interviews with these wonderful Women of the law.