August 2017 | Alison Kennedy, Special Counsel, Real Estate, Clayton Utz 

I became a lawyer because …

... I was looking for a bit of a challenge and the law interested me. Double degrees were becoming popular when I started University. I had studied Accounting at school and knew I wanted to do a Commerce degree, so Commerce/Law seemed like a good idea at the time. Whilst I enjoyed studying Accounting, I knew at the end of my Commerce degree that I didn't really want to become an Accountant, so I focused on completing my Law degree and the rest is history. I'm pleased to say however, that my Accounting background has (and continues to) come in handy in my day to day practice.

I am really proud of …

… the fact that I'm a full-time working Mum of two beautiful kids (aged 7 and 4), with a husband that also works full-time, and that I'm still standing (just)! A career in Law is demanding at the best of times. Throw into the mix a looking after a family and running a household (which is equally, if not more demanding) and life can get a little crazy. However, I am fortunate to be in a position where I can enjoy a rewarding career and family life at the same time.

You can have it all …

… to a point. In my view, there is no such thing as a "Supermum" or "Superwoman". There are only so many hours in the day, so you need to figure out what is important to you and then make sacrifices along the way to protect what's important. I have made sacrifices in my career to have a family and I have sacrificed family time for my career. However, I am fortunate to work at a Firm where flexibility is encouraged, which means that I can be at my daughter's piano recital at school in the middle of the day, visit my son at childcare for afternoon tea or work from home when I need to. It's great to go to an event and hear about the amazing achievements that many women today have made. For me though, I'd much rather hear about the struggles those women have faced (we all have them) and how they overcame those struggles to achieve their success.

I am extremely grateful for …

… my parents' support in getting me to University (and in life generally). I grew up in country Victoria, went to the local Technical School and was only one of 5 students from my Year 12 class (the first in my family) who went to University. Mum and Dad weren't well off, but stretched the finances enough to make it possible for me to move to Melbourne to study. If not for them, I would not have been able to become a lawyer and who knows where I would be today.

A key mentor who influenced my career is …

… I have been very fortunate to have had more than one key mentor throughout my career. Murray McCutcheon at Hunt & Hunt guided me through the early stages of my career and when I moved to Clayton Utz, John McGuire and Don Mazzone took over that role. John and Don continue to offer their support and guidance to this day. Each of my mentors has shown great confidence in me (even when I haven't necessarily been confident in myself), always had time to answer my stupid questions and been truly interested in both the development of my career and me as a person. I will always be grateful for their support and guidance.

If I wasn’t a lawyer …

… I have no idea what I would be! I always regret not having enough time to spend with my kids, so if I wasn't a lawyer, I think I'd be a part-time Mum. Staying home full time didn't agree with me as I needed something else to engage the brain, but being able to be home part-time would be wonderful.

Before I started at Clayton Utz …

… I worked as a lawyer (and Articled Clerk) at Hunt & Hunt. Prior to that and whilst at University, I spent about four years working part time as the Accounts Manager at a small law firm and as a bookkeeper for a private individual.

The best advice I ever received was ...

... ask lots of questions! Knowledge really is power and the more questions you ask, the more knowledgeable you become. I ask lots of questions and encourage those around me to do the same - including the stupid ones (although there really is no such thing in my opinion).

One of the key legal initiatives I am involved in …

… Although not strictly legal, I am involved in a number of initiatives aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in the law, particularly at senior levels, and the property profession generally. I am a member of the UDIA Victoria Women in Property Committee and Clayton Utz's Momentum Committee and, although there is a long way to go, I am encouraged by the inroads that have been made in recent years towards gender equality in our profession.

Outside of the law …

… I drive Mum's taxi shuffling the kids to various activities on weekends, do a little home improvement/decorating (although I'm not particularly good at it), can be found at Chadstone partaking in some retail therapy and when I get time around family birthdays (which is virtually never) I try may hand at a little cake decorating.

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Elisabeth Moran
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