Episode 175 – 10 Women Lawyers doing law 10 very different ways
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Sunday the 8th of March is, of course, International Women’s Day and what better an opportunity than to celebrate some of the amazing women lawyers I have had on the show over the last 12 months. 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 talented women lawyers for a few simple reasons- they are all amazing at what they do but more importantly, the together demonstrate that there really are so many different ways to be a lawyer. So here we go!
Early last year in Episode 130 – I sat down with the wonderful Phoebe Bell
Phoebe like so many of us bounced off to law school straight after school. But a few years into her degree she realised quite quickly that a life in the law was not really for her. She is now the creator of the stunning Australian homewares brand Sage and Clare. In this interview, I got to understand just how Phoebe has gone from a potential career in the law to instead running a vibrant international homewares business playing with colour, creativity, design and joy.
In this section of her interview Pheobe and I talk about:
- How Pheobe came to start her own business and moved out of the law
- The external and internal pressure that comes along with pursuing dreams
- The parallels between starting any sort of business, whether it be homewares or a law firm, including self-belief and the capacity to back yourself.
- How the thinking that Phoebe learned at law school has been invaluable to her homewares business.
Next is the wonderful Myra Kochardy who joined me in Episode 132. Myra’s career in law began almost by accident. After having migrated to Australia at 18, it was a chance meeting with a neighbour that inspirted Myra to become a lawyer. But like so many of us, she began her degree and then ‘left’ for a while before coming back and finding her feet with a new sense of purpose after having volunteered in the south of China. Myra has since gone on to build a niche in Health Law- initially in private practice and now as an advisor in Government.
In this section of her interview Myra and I talk about:
- After being born and raised in Switzerland, Myra decided to pursue law, however, after 9 months Myra switched her focus to International Relations.
- The importance of purpose in our lives both in and outside of the law.
- Myra took a break from uni- she wanted to travel and landed in South-East China to teach English with ‘Volunteers International’.
- The rest is sort of history- she fell into a role at the Brisbane firm, Roberts & Kane a wonderful small firm where she was mentored and inspired and found her niche in Health Law.
And then there was Episode 132 with Kath Manby. Kath is the owner of VM Family Law a firm specialising in Family Law and particularly domestic violence work. It is Kath’s own experience, her values and beliefs that have led her to this very tricky area of practice and in this interview, I learned a lot about just why she has invested so much of herself in making a difference to others.
In this section of her interview Kath and I talk about:
- Kath grew up in Huddersfield, UK, and had a choice between psychology and a law degree, she chose law.
- In 2006 Kath moved to Australia on a whim.
- Once she had moved Kath did 8 electives over 2 years at UQ to enable her qualifications to be recognised her.
- Kath’s first job was at a law firm in Wynnum conducting Wills Estate, Conveyancing and finally Family law (which is where she wanted to be!)
- Kaths advice to young lawyers who have a passion for Social Justice.
Next, I had the opportunity to interview my good friend on Episode 133, Kelly Stanford. Kelly did not set out to become a lawyer and in this interview I learned about the many twists and turns life has taken her on as she found her path there. And I am so glad she did! Her story will inspire you and is a wonderful reminder that we can all do anything we set our mind to if we are courageous enough- including working full time, raising two kids and studying a law degree late into the night!
In this section of her interview Kelly and I talk about:
- Kelly shares her love of her work- particularly the care and protection area, her legal aid work and assisting Aboriginal people around NSW.
- Kelly’s learnings from running her law firm, for the last 20 years.
- The future for Kelly Stanford as a’granny’, lawyer, business owner and all sorts of other bits in between.
- Kelly’s advice to those who are thinking about starting a law degree as well as some stories from her time at University.
And then there was Episode 145 with Florence Chen. Florence has quickly built a successful practice at the bar in taxation, commercial and construction law and her day job had us talking for some time. Florence is someone I would be happy to hang out with daily! She is everything that inspires me in a great lawyer- intelligent, driven and all of those great traits but equally calm, funny, open and authentic.
In this section of her interview Florence and I talk about:
- The story of how Florence decided to jump straight into a career at the bar – thanks to her wife Jessica!
- Life as a Barrister- particularly those first few years.
- Opportunities for women at the Bar but why the stats continue to suggest women are not moving into that arm of our profession at the same rate as perhaps the solicitor arm of the profession.
Marnie Carroll is up next and her snippet comes from Episode 146. Marnie is a contract lawyer by day at DLA Piper- a role that she really loves. But through her decision last year to change how she was living, Marnie has come to find a deep sense of purpose and balance between her work inside the law and her life outside of it.
In this section of her interview Marnie and I talk about:
- How Marnie saw herself in litigation but early in her career found herself in contract work which she has really come to love.
- Innovation in Contractual Law space and Marnie’s view of how to overcome the disconnect that can occur when communicating between parties.
Next, I had the opportunity to interview Lana Woltman on Episode 147. Lana is a personal injuries lawyer now working on the Gold Coast. She thoroughly enjoys the practice of law, helping her client overcome often significant tragedy. Lana shared so many great insights in this chat all around the theme of happiness- from building resilience, being tenacious, celebrating success and importantly, being kind to yourself along the way too.
In this section of her interview Lana and I talk about:
- Lana’s early life and the influence of her passion for music.
- How Lana found herself in law.
- Working in hospitality has taught Lana to problem solve and these skills have been invaluable through the start of her legal career.
- How a car accident was the catalyst for Lana’s career in the law.
And then there was Episode 151 with Carly Stebbing. Carly took a courageous step to create her own practice with nothing more than $6,000 and a whole lot of determination and fast forward a few years she now employs her husband and many others and is building a practice that is providing the best of legal services but also a flexible work culture and cost effective solutions for her clients.
In this section of her interview Carly and I talk about:
- How Carly started in employment law.
- Employer and Employee law- which Carly prefers and why.
- Why Carly started her own firm, Resolution 123, in 2017 with an APP and an 8 week old baby!
- How Carly’s passion to help those who need but cannot afford legal services has driven much of her innovation.
Next, we listen to Cara Austen who has built her own unique practice, Twine, which I cam report is up and running since her interview on Episode 153. Cara has a deep love of the business of law and I think I can say this is in part what drove her decision to start her own firm. Cara, in this snippet, shares her journey into the law and being ok with being a ‘law nerd’. And yes, she was very pregnant when we recorded this and hs since added a gorgeous little boy to her family.
In this section of her interview Cara and I talk about:
- Cara started her legal career in Canberra having the chance to enjoy a few different roles in the public service.
- After graduation, Cara worked in private practice in contractual law, tax law and IT law and is a self-confessed ‘law nerd’.
- Cara moved to Singapore to work for a Japanese company where she fast learned just how different business in another culture can be!
And finally, we will hear from Adelyn Koh from Episode 163. Adelyn knew from a young age law was to be her thing and before she knew it, she was there. But a chance opportunity had her and her now-husband taking a chance and moving across from Malaysia to Sydney. A job in a top tier firm EY, living in a beautiful city- it would be easy to think Adelyn had it all sorted but I fast learned in this interview that her experiences in transitioning from practicing in Malaysia to be accepted in Sydney were anything but easy.
In this section of her interview Adelyn and I talk about:
- The day to day life of living in Malaysia and the expectations for lawyers.
- Adelyn’s experience of moving to Sydney and the challenges she faced during the transition.
- Unconscious bias and Adelyn’s perspective of bias in Law Land and the benefits of culturally diverse workplaces.
Sit back and enjoy these wonderful interviews with women lawyers who are everything that International Women’s Day is all about!