Episode 158 – Tackling capital punishment one case at a time with lawyer Sara Kowal
In this week’s episode of the ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life Podcast’ I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Sara Kowal who travelled all the way from Melbourne for this interview. Sara began life as a criminal lawyer and she still ‘twilights’ in this role but this past few years she has really found her thing now leading Monash University’s Capital Punishment Impact Initiative. This is a fitting interview for this week- it is mental health week worldwide and there are so many parts of Sara’s story that are a reminder that every challenge really is an opportunity. Sara is a mother to 4 and somewhere in there appeared twins! That triggered Sara experiencing post-natal depression, a period in her life she speaks openly of in this interview as one of the most difficult but ironically, the thing that triggered a career pivot and enabled Sara to find her thing- her way of leaving her mark on the world.
Sara now leads an anti-death penalty clinic at Monash University and is the Vice-President of the Capital Punishment Justice Project (formerly Reprieve Australia), an NGO solely focussed on the abolition of the death penalty. Sara leads teams of students as they assist with capital punishment cases and advocacy in the Asia Pacific Region. This is a project and work that is so needed the world over and I loved the chance to hear how Sara and many others are using their skills as lawyers each day to tackle such an important issue.
- If Sara was not a lawyer she would have been a social worker.
- We discussed creating boundaries to be able to work on difficult cases.
- Sara’s experience of articles including being thrown in the deep end on a murder trial.
- Sara was born and bred in Melbourne and started her studies at Melbourne University doing an arts degree.
- After a couple of years at University, Sara took a gap year in Israel learning Hebrew and finding her roots.
- The advantages Sara experienced by starting her legal career just a little ‘later’ in life.
- Sara’s career in Criminal Law.
- The gendered nature of crime and Sara’s perspective having worked in the justice system for nearly 20 years.
- Sara is a mother and she shares her experience of postnatal depression.
- Sara’s journey back into law land, all while balancing 3 children.
- How Sara become involved in the Anti-Death Penalty Clinic and what is involved in this role.
- Sara does a fair amount of her casework with students and her opinion of studying lawyers.
- Worldwide death penalty statistics and the help that is needed in this important area.
- Since 2001 Sara’s office has been sending students to the USA through the Capital Punishment Justice Program (CPJP).
- The CPJP works with volunteers, interns, and students to develop legal and policy solutions regarding Capital Punishment.
- In 2018, CPJP started a partnership with Monash University to create the Anti-Death Penalty Institute.
- Sara’s experience of parenthood and the huge importance of sleep in all of our lives.
- How each of us can make an impact through our work each day.
- World issues and our perception of the highs and lows in our society.
- Sara’s Happiness Tip.
Sit back and enjoy this interview with Sara Kowal.