Episode 224 – Passion, Purpose and Pepsi Max – Finding a New Way with Carolyn Devries
In this week’s episode of the ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life Podcast’ I had the pleasure of interviewing Carolyn Devries.
Carolyn has been someone who has been working in a similar space to me for a long time, and finally getting to sit down and talk with her has been such a pleasure. She is running the first ever privately owned not-for-profit law firm in the family space in Australia, ‘New Way Lawyers’, and she has found a very different way of structuring a law practice!
When we think of innovation in law, the focus is often on legal technology or the financial benefits, and Carolyn’s perspective has been a really refreshing way to reflect on legal innovation with an emphasis on the humans involved. It was quite some time ago that we did this interview, as is the chaos of 2021 for me, but it really was such a poignant discussion. Carolyn is an incredible person who has lived an exceptional life, driven by her values and purpose in every space of her life and career. From a farming property in a small country town in NSW, she has travelled the world and taken time to carve her own path – a path that has led her to ‘New Way Lawyers’.
Carolyn has created a very unique and holistic practice that makes legal help more accessible. ‘New Way Lawyers’ exists to help guide separating families – regardless of financial situation – through the hardest time of their lives. Not only does Carolyn’s team help legally, but they also give emotional and practical support to their clients too. She has created a unique business that embraces both a legal and not-for-profit framework to create a practice that is both incredibly innovative and deeply empathetic. There is a strong sense of peace and freedom for Carolyn in knowing that she is where she is meant to be – in her family, career, faith, and home in Brisbane.
Carolyn offers us a lot of learnings in regards to finding happiness in the law, and her passion, values, purpose and sense of humour are key pieces in that.
In this interview, Carolyn and I also chatted about-
- If Carolyn was not a lawyer, she would love to review musicals and books! However, ultimately, law is her calling.
- Carolyn’s upbringing and travels – from rural NSW to Northern Canada, Namibia, Kakadu and Nullabor with her husband (and later children!)
- Her pathway to law; decided to study law as she describes herself as being a ‘typical candidate’, however, she hated studying it until she began to work with clients and realised that it could be a pathway to help people.
- Sharing her difficulties in the confronting nature of criminal law, and how this resulted in her closing the door on law for a while.
- After moving to Kakadu, Carolyn became involved in the not-for-profit sector working with First Nation Australians. Through this work, she found a deep passion that led her to her Masters in the management of not-for-profit organisations.
- While in Canada and continuing her Masters, Carolyn’s realisation that while she had ‘closed the door’ on law, it was not locked.
- The puzzle pieces of Carolyn’s experiences, chance meetings and how this brought her to a place of contentment.
- The beginnings of New Way Law Firm – Australia’s first not for profit law firm.
- The moment of fear, and how Carolyn overcame these fears with passion and purpose.
- The team at New Way and the ‘more than people’ attitude of the firm.
- Carolyn explains ‘Social Franchising’ and how her firm works.
- How New Way delivers client care activities outside of the traditional legal sphere, including the weekly ‘Client Care Blog’ and her in-court client support.
- The benefits of moving the measure of success from the cash to the customer.
- The importance in seeing family law as an experience, as opposed to as a service.
- Innovation in law, usually connected to technology, is now shifting to customer service.
- How vital it is to surround yourself with supportive voices!
- Working from a place of values and purpose gives you the peace and freedom that come from doing what you love.
- Carolyn’s tips for students coming into the law, and her encouragement to cross-learn.
- Faith, Family and Pepsi Max!
- Carolyn’s Happiness Tip.
Sit back and enjoy this interview with Carolyn Devries