Why did you become a lawyer?
I had been working as a receptionist in a real estate office whilst at school and in my first years at uni (when I started a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education). Working in real estate exposed me to property transactions and I became interested in property law so I chose to switch degrees and give the law a go. I was motivated to finish my law degree swiftly as I had lost some time starting and not completing my prior degree, so it was head down and bum up for me. Once I finished my degree (at which point I was still working in real estate) I had a real passion to become a property lawyer.
This is a big story — in 2009 when I was looking to move with my team from a firm whose culture was no longer aligned with the culture we had previously enjoyed, one of my clients suggested that I speak with Swaab. I met Fred Swaab (our founder) and Bronwyn Pott (our then CEO) and my world was opened up to a very attractive alternative to the large mid-tier national firm environment my team and I had been a part of. Fred and Bron oozed warmth, character, innovation and pride in a firm with a culture that they had hand crafted beautifully. I left my first meeting (with them) with a clear impression that Swaab would offer opportunities for me and my team to contribute in a meaningful way to the firm’s future. It became apparent very quickly thereafter that not only had Fred and Bron built a special law firm but the firm was peppered with authentic generosity to a degree I had never experienced before. I was in awe of Fred and what he was offering to young partners (as I was then) who were looking for an opportunity to work hard in an environment that promoted human values that were important to me and my team.
What’s your best memory or client success?
This question is too hard to answer. There is not one memory or success that stands so far out from the next.
To work in a profession and area of law which facilitates the development of strong and meaningful relationships with long standing clients is by far the ‘best’ experience in my career.
Having my long standing client and friend, the late David Hazlett, ask me to be his Executor and to establish and Chair the Hazlett Family Council has been the most touching experience as a lawyer. To know that David trusted me with his family and their wealth was very flattering.
Also, to be chosen as the first non-founder managing partner of Swaab (after Fred) has been the greatest opportunity I could have ever wished for and I am eternally grateful to Fred and my then partners for their trust in me.
Who has been your greatest influence?
One of the great aspects of being a lawyer is that you meet and interact with many people and each person leaves you with a different imprint. For me, I have been most influenced by three categories of people: Legal mentors, Colleagues and Clients.
I have been lucky to have had some wonderful legal mentors in John Graves, the late Terry O’Connor, Bob Ternes, Peter Garrett, Tom Suttie, Tim L’Orange, the late Fred Swaab – the list goes on. My mentors have all been men – and I have never ever felt at a disadvantage because I was a women. I want to specifically mention Fred. To be chosen as the first non- founder managing partner of Swaab (after Fred) has been the greatest opportunity I could have ever wished for and I am eternally grateful to Fred and my then partners for their trust in me.
I have also had some awesome and long standing team members and partners who have become close friends who have influenced and shaped me as a lawyer, a person and a leader.
Not surprisingly, I have also been influenced greatly by clients along my 21 year journey practising as a lawyer. The late David Hazlett and the late Paul Ramsay are two clients who have left a lasting impression on me and my personal brand.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Watch and enjoy live Aussie Rock music – preferably with a few Swaab colleagues in tow.
I love the beaches on the south coast of NSW – I just don’t get there as often as I’d like.
I can’t dance or sing to save myself but my 11 year old daughter can do both very well. So l love to watch and listen to her perform. This is my favourite and most satisfying past-time.
Of course, I enjoy a great dining experience with a big bold South Australian red wine.