Lawyer Monthly - Legal Awards 2022

Lawyer Monthly Legal Awards 2022 which often leads to family law proceedings, represents the most difficult time in a person’s life, whether it is in relation to their financial affairs or their children. In practising over the last 18 years, I wanted to ensure that my skills, experience and knowledge were applied in a way that had a real impact on a person and their family’s life, particularly as I am aware that people generally do not find engaging with a family lawyer to be a pleasant experience. I wanted to provide a service to my clients that was focused on easing the stress and burden they experience during these difficult times and simplifying what can often appear to be complex and overwhelming legal proceedings. What changes have you observed in the sector since you began your practice in 2004, and what changes do you see on the horizon? Throughout the last 18 years I have seen a significant push within the family law sphere to simplify and expedite what was often a drawn out, highly litigious and expensive process. There has been a particular shift towards engaging in alternative dispute resolution to mitigate these issues in recognition of the fact that encouraging parties to keep control of their own futures, whether in relation to care arrangements for their children or their financial affairs, leads to more positive outcomes for all involved. The recent merger and creation of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia in September 2021 emphasised the renewed focus on reducing the extent and cost of family law proceedings and presented us as practitioners with a new streamlined approach through the Court. This has highlighted mediation and arbitration as practical solution-based and efficient ways to achieve positive outcomes for clients and, importantly, remove the delays and expense associated with family law proceedings. It is clear to me that there will continue to be a movement away from litigation as the primary way to resolve family law disputes, and as a practitioner, it is encouraging to see that the Court and legislators have taken on board the criticisms of family law proceedings Having practised in family law for 18 years, how have you developed your skills over this period? As with any legal practitioner, there is a focus on continuing professional development and education. I am primarily a litigation lawyer and I have refined my skills as a practitioner and litigator through regular and ongoing appearances in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, as well as the New South Wales Local Court, District Court and Supreme Court. Over the years, and most recently in light of the merge of the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia in September 2021, I have seen the movement towards alternative dispute resolution within the industry as a client-driven way to achieve desirable and beneficial results. To ensure that I stayed at the forefront of change and innovation within the legal industry, I became an accredited mediator through AIFLAM in 2015 in order to offer a wider and more holistic service to my family law clients, either as their advisor or as a mediator. What motivated you to become qualified as an Independent Children’s Lawyer? Throughout my practice as a family law practitioner, it has been impossible to avoid dealing with matters that raise complex, often disturbing and multifaceted issues in relation to children. As an experienced family lawyer, I felt compelled to become an accredited Independent Children’s Lawyer, given my extensive understanding of the impacts which family law proceedings inevitably have on children. I felt that this was an appropriate time in my career to expand on my practice and utilise my advocacy skills in a new way, to assist the Federal Circuit and Family Court and advocate the best interests of children in ways which we as practitioners are unfortunately unable to do when acting for parents. To zoom out slightly, what drove you to specialise in family law? Throughout my early years of practice, I developed an acute awareness that the breakdown in a relationship, “On a professional level, I measure my success by the positive impact that I have had on people’s lives, both as an advocate and as an individual.” 23 AUSTRALIA

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