I am most proud of...
having established and now being part of a law firm which makes me proud every day. Nicholes Family Lawyers feels like a community of like-minded people who share, value, and actively promote an agreed set of values, principles and standards, whether it is internally when dealing with fellow colleagues; with clients; with the wider legal profession; and the broader community. To see these values being lived every day, and to see how this is central to delivering high-quality legal service to clients is deeply satisfying.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges for individuals, firms and the wider community, and I am proud of the determined and effective way Nicholes Family Lawyers dealt with these challenges on behalf of our clients. We were also determined to ensure all members of the Nicholes Family Lawyers team – both the lawyers and support staff – would be supported during this time, and I am proud of the way we achieved this goal. We worked hard to look after our clients, and each other, and we are better for the experience, while remaining very aware that many people suffered as a result of the pandemic.
One of the key legal initiatives I am involved in is...
the Nicholes Family Lawyers Podcast Network Series (https://nicholeslaw.com.au/podcasts/) which was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working in close collaboration with a range of organisations including Victorian Women Lawyers, Women’s Information and Referral Exchange (WIRE), JOY 94.9FM, and many others we created a series of free podcasts (which is still being added to) where we bought together experts to look the myriad challenges caused by pandemic and associated lockdowns and social isolation.
Over 44 podcasts thus far we have covered topics including “How to Parent in Isolation”, “Family Violence and COVID-19”, “Social Isolation”, “CyberSafety” and much more. While many of the podcasts have a COVID-19 focus, the content covers issues which unfortunately existed before the pandemic – such as family violence – and which continue today. We are very thankful to the many experts who gave, and who continue to give, freely of their time to the podcast series. If your colleagues, family or friends might be interested in the podcasts, please let them know.
As a Board Member and Vice-Chair of the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights, I am also looking forward to our 2021 World Congress Conference (http://www.worldcongress.co/). The World Congress exists to enhance, promote and protect the human rights of children and young people, and brings together individuals and organisations from across the world who have influence on the legal and justice system.
I became a lawyer because..
lawyers have the opportunity to make a positive difference for those who are disempowered. We have the opportunity to speak, to act and to advocate on behalf of people who need to - and who deserve to - be seen, be heard and be respected.
When I was at school, a friend of mine suffered a wrong and needed someone to advocate on her behalf. I remember to this day both the wrong she suffered and my sense of frustration at not having the skills or knowledge to advocate effectively on her behalf. This experience set me on the path to studying law and, to this day, I am driven by the desire to advocate effectively and fairly on behalf of those who need to be heard but are not in a position to do so on their own behalf.
In the past year, I have learnt...
The last year has been tough for almost everyone. For many people it has been significantly worse, for many it has been catastrophic, whether it be in terms of losing their jobs, financial pressures, personal tragedy, mental health issues or more bought on or exacerbated by the pandemic.
As a Family Lawyer, I want to single out, highlight and specifically mention the tragic, life-threatening and at times fatal increases in family violence caused by the pandemic. It is a local, national and international tragedy – a pandemic of increased family violence bought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The way to combat this increase in family violence, and the other pain inflicted by the pandemic, is to work together as a community, to draw on our shared sense of humanity, and to never forget that our roles as lawyers and as members of society is to do all we can to help those who need help.