Episode 210 – Be simple, be short, be human with Paul Holmes
In this week’s episode of the ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life Podcast’ I had the pleasure of interviewing solicitor Paul Holmes. These days, when not running around an indoor netball court, Paul spends his time working at Legal Aid Queensland in the Consumer Protection Unit, a role that he really loves. Paul’s early career in law had him working as an Associate in the Supreme Court in Queensland before securing a role at a top tier national firm. It was those experiences, coupled with study in the UK that have led to Paul finding his niche in #Lawland back at Legal Aid where he has been for the last 13 years.
I loved this chat- there are so many wonderful thoughts, tips and insights that Paul shared and most of all I enjoyed his definition of success in law- building a fulfuling career- whatever that means for you. I think Paul is best summed up in this beautiful statement he made when discussing his role and the impact it has on many Australians- ‘If you can make a difference for people you have never met, to me, that’s close to the most fulfilling thing you can do.’
In this interview, Paul and I also chatted about-
- If Paul was not a lawyer he would have followed his parents’ footsteps and become a teacher.
- Schooling and education were important for Paul growing up as his parents instilled in him a love of learning.
- The important roles of parents in the education space and creating space for children to find their own happiness.
- Problem solving and the joy this brings to Paul’s life in the Law.
- Paul completed a dual degree in Law and Economics at UQ. He shared his fond memories of university life and the ‘thinking space’ it gave.
- While studying, Paul started a Research Clerk role which gave Paul his first experience of dealing directly with people who needed legal assistance.
- Paul’s first role was as an Associate to Justice Helman in the Supreme Court at Queensland.
- His time completing his Masters in the UK, at Queen Mary College, which gave him new cultural experiences and perspectives.
- There are different ways to approach life – none are wrong.
- After spending a few years in big-law, Paul came to the realisation that he wanted to be in a more client-focused position.
- Paul made the shift to Legal Aid and is in the Consumer Protection Unit.
- A day in the life of Paul in his role, what it entails and the impact it has had both on him and his clients.
- Paul explains his role in a nutshell like this, ‘If you can make a difference for people you have never met, to me, that’s close to the most fulfilling thing you can do.’
- The ‘innovation’ of Legal Aid and the way in which they approach people, culture and capability.
- The impact of the pandemic on Paul’s day to day at Legal Aid.
- ‘Be simple, be short, be human’ and the impact that we have on others in the way we speak and the way we dress.
- One-fifth of Australian adults have limited literacy and numeracy and Paul’s tips for recognising the signs – ‘If you can’t say it in two sentences – you need to re-frame it’.
- Fulfilment in the law is a marker of success for Paul. He has managed to pull together all the aspects of work that he loves.
- The impact of working in a healthy, collaborative workplace with aligning goals.
- Managing the mix of humans he works with and regularly asking himself; ‘If I am going to get involved in this, what meaningful difference will I make?’
- Hope is the most powerful tool you can give someone – but false hope is just as dangerous.
- The key to maintaining your mental health is physical activity. For Paul, he loves a good run or game of netball.
- The future for Legal Aid and the changes Paul is working on to make the process better for those he works with.
- Paul’s Happiness Tip
Sit back and enjoy this interview with Paul Holmes.