Daring and Disruptive Workshop, with Lisa Messenger!

Daring and Disruptive with Lisa Messenger

Author Rachael Hempling

This week my colleague and friend Rachael Hempling, Barrister and Mediator shares her reflections after the two of us had the opportunity to spend a day with the ever amazing entrepreneur Lisa Messenger. I have followed Lisa for a number of years now and have learnt a lot from her approach to business and the chance to hang out with her for a full day earlier this year provided much inspiration for the business year ahead. You might think what could lawyers learn from a magazine publisher but let me tell you we learnt a lot that day as Rachael shares below. 


Last Month I attended the most inspirational and mind blowing day at the ‘Daring and Disruptive Workshop’, with Lisa Messenger, the founding genius behind the “Collective Hub.” Lisa is unapologetically raw and honest about her journey, yet manages to flip everything around to a positive even when talking the challenges and heartbreaking moments’ that she has faced. 

Attending her workshop was an absolute game changer for me. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as I prepare to pave a new path. She unapologetically challenged me to reflect where I am, yet inspired me to forge forward into the brave new world of entrepreneurship and innovation. 

So with my mind still buzzing with ideas, I thought I’d share my 5 top takeaways with you, as they were so powerful and incredibly thought provoking.  

1. Build like-minded non-competing relationships and networks.

You are likely to have a very similar client base, but are not in direct competition for the goods or services you are providing. For example, if you are a small boutique law firm specialising in conveyancing, you might want to partner or build relationships with a local boutique real estate agent. You are likely to be more aligned from an ethos point of view rather than targeting the larger nationwide agents where there may be referral policies in place. 

2. Stop seeking validation from external parties.

‘Haters gonna hate’, but you don’t need to listen to them. Be bold, be brave and have the confidence to believe in what you are doing or creating. There will always be people saying, ‘that won’t work’ or ‘that’s a bad idea’. Don’t listen to those nay-sayers and flip that negative energy around. Grow and be comfortable in the knowledge that these are not your people!

3. Incentivise your staff.

All of Lisa’s staff now have ‘skin in the game’. The more they sell, book or produce the more financial reward they receive. It makes sense, right? Your staff help you grow and expand your business in exchange for maximising their pay packets. Win win! It also has the added benefit of assisting you scale up or scale down and as the market shifts and changes. 

4. When building networks & partnerships think about a 'value-added exchange'.

So don’t approach people, influencers or potential partners with the notion of ‘what can you do for me’, as it won’t be conducive to opening a line of conversation or developing a working relationship. Think of what you might be able to add to their business in exchange for what they add to yours. For example, you could offer to showcase that Boutique Real Estate Agent in your latest blog in order to open up a line of conversation about referrals.

5. Take off the "Busy Badge"!

Most of us go through life being overwhelmed and telling people how ‘busy we are’. Wearing it like a badge of honour. Take it off, slow down and learn to rest, be still and breathe. Some people can continue running at an exhausting pace, but it can and does catch up with you. So do the work you love, but learn to schedule time out to rest as well. You are your greatest resource so be kind to yourself.

This is an image of Rachael Hempling

Rachael Hempling

Barrister-at-Law | Nationally Accredited Mediator | Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner

Rachael Hempling is a barrister and mediator from French Quarter Chamber on the Gold Coast. She is a proud member of the “Happy Lawyer Happy Life Club” and is soon to release her first digital course, ‘The Online Family Separation Course’.


Surviving Exam Block! By Hannah Trotter

Surviving Exam Block

Author Hannah Trotter

Exam time!  It must be because the ground around my house is a beautiful shade of mauve thanks to the falling Jacaranda blossoms!  I never much liked Jacaranda’s when I was at uni but these days I love them!  However for all of you lovely law students out there I suspect you are head down, books open right now and this week fellow ‘soon to be lawyer’, Hannah Trotter is sharing her tips on how to survive your exam block!


It’s October! It couldn’t possibly be but, it is! I know this because Brisbane’s weather has turned a bizarre mixture of rainy and sweaty, Christmas decorations are dazzling the shelves of department stores and my Instagram is filled with people designing and creating Halloween costumes.  Most importantly for university students everywhere, it’s exam time!  That’s right folks, time to pull up a cubicle in the library, print out those lecture slides and organise a tab with your universities’ below average coffee cart. Talk about the silly season!

If you’re anything like me, you are in the throes of submitting final assessments, catching up on classes you didn’t realised you’d missed and feeling that strange numbing sensation that occurs as exam block looms closer. Have no fear friends, for I have gallantly volunteered to spend a few moments procrastinating from my studies to share with you my tips and tricks for surviving exams. 

1. Don't Wait For SWOTVAC

It seems obvious but, if you’re anything like me, you’re repeating my go-to mantra of “there’s time! You’ve got a whole week without classes to prepare! You’re on top of this!” It doesn’t matter how organised and brilliant you think your notes are, if you’re binging the latest season of the Good Place on Netflix, you’re not preparing yourself for exam period! 

2. Organise Your Food Situation!

I am the queen of thinking first about the study, second about the pressure and, with whatever time and energy is left, remembering my well-being. Exam time can easily become a rush of craziness in which your local Uber Eats courier becomes your best friend. This won’t help your brain, your bank balance or your physical health. Set aside some time each week to prepare good nutritious food that will sustain you through copious hours of study and stress. I steal recipes from my friend Sarah at Baked Livingness to get me by! Side note: You can download Sarah’s free mini e-book here – I’m not sponsored, she’s just amazing! 

3. Stretch Those Legs!

I study the way I snooze my alarm. I sit down and when I open my eyes to the world again, hours have passed and I haven’t read nearly enough content. I’ve found the best way to retain information is to take it for a spin- literally. I pick up my notes and we go for a walk. Sometimes it’s pacing throughout the house- other times I wander around my street. Yes, I look like a crazy person honing their orienteering skills like 4th year students on excursion but, I find my brain works best when I’m up out of my chair and moving about.

4. Tell Your Friends You're Busy!

This year is ending and social calendars are filling up. You don’t want to seem like that student who doesn’t see the outdoors between the months of September and November but, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. It’s best to get ahead of these things so, shoot your comrades a text and let them know you love them but you’ll be ignoring them for the foreseeable future. Adios amigos!

5. Inhale and Exhale

Exams are stressful but before you know it, they’re over. It is okay to take a minute, re-evaluate all your life decisions and career aspirations and just breathe. The reality is, by the time next semester rolls around, you will have forgotten half of the content you crammed and be way less concerned about the immense pressure you felt this semester. Priority number one this exam season is to take a step back, check in on yourself and know that, no matter what, it’s going to be okay. 

It’s taken three years of struggling through exam season to come to these embarrassingly simple strategies. You probably have your own and think mine are insane but, each to their own! There is however, one universal tip I think we can all agree on. Over the next few weeks, campuses across Australia will be overflowing with nervous energy, stress and crippling fear of what’s to come. Above all, be kind to one another. Buy that terrified first year a Flat White. Smile at the second year who looks like they’re about to drop out. We will all be better off for it!  

Happy studying

Hannah Trotter

Hannah Trotter

Blogger and Happy Law Student 

Hi there! I’m Hannah and I am a law student currently in my third year at Queensland University of Technology. I graduated high-school in 2014 completely clueless about who I was, what I wanted and how I intended to get there. To many people’s surprise (including my own) I moved from my family farm on the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane to start my law degree in 2016.

Following my first year I commenced work as the Receptionist at Brisbane Family Law Centre. Having worked with this amazing team for nearly 2 years, I have been given a learning opportunity that goes beyond lectures and tutorials by providing a practical experience of the world of Law. My experience as part of the BFLC team has taught me that a Law career does not have to fit into a traditional box which has ignited a new passion for my studies as well as my future career in the legal profession.

In the meantime, I’ll stick to writing musicals, drinking coffee and playing board games.

I would love to connect with you on Linkedin and Instagram!


Happy Lawyer Happy Life Had a Podcast Party! By Kiarah Grace Kelly

In case you missed it: Happy Lawyer Happy Life had a Podcast Party! 

Author Kiarah Kelly

The 14th of September 2018 marked a very special occasion in my business life- the ‘2 years/ 100+ episodes/ Podcast party because you can Party’ went off with a bang of rainbow streamers and confetti here in Brisbane.  This week our blogging regular Kiarah Kelly shares her takeaways from the afternoon with her usual fun style!


For attendees of the Happy Lawyer Happy Life ‘100 Episode/ 2 Year Anniversary/ Party Just Because Party,’ we were promised dancing, good food and wisdoms from Australia’s favourite judicial rockstar, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, all in return for a donation to the Minds Count Foundation, how could we refuse! After a few hours spent eating, drinking and meeting fabulous new people on a perfect Brisbane day on the College of Law’s stunning city rooftop, I’m sold that this passion project started by the Happy Family Lawyer is an addition to the legal landscape that I don’t know how we lived without!

The Rockstar of Law on Happiness

The secret to happiness, according to self-confessed biscuit addict and personal hero of lawyers everywhere, is Vegemite. His Honour told us that earlier that day, after a particularly frustrating flight, he wasn’t feeling his usual chipper self. Recognising that he needed to turn his attitude around to enjoy the rest of his day, His Honour made a bee-line for the airport lounge and fixed himself a lunch roll with a very healthy serving of Vegemite, and he quickly saw blue skies again. Now it was at this point in His Honour’s address that I admittedly tuned out for a quick second because I challenge anyone after hearing that story not to break out in to a one-woman song and dance production in their head to the tune “we’re happy little Vegemites as bright as bright can be!” Anyway, I digress, after deciding I should reach out to Kraft for sponsorship His Honour caught my attention again by setting out on a rapid fire of his wisdoms on happiness. His Honour cites a life filled with love and taking time to catch the early train everyday as things which make him smile. We then learnt that each of the seven Judge’s chambers of the High Court are appointed with the timber from a different tree from a different state of Australia. His Honour told us that when he was invited to the bench of our nation’s highest court he was assigned to the chambers decorated with the bright yellow timber of Tasmania’s most prominent tree. His Honour recognised that a nice view and bright, colourful surroundings made his days in our nation’s top judicial role all the more happy.

A New Look at the Happy Lawyer

The next speaker for the afternoon was our very own podcast-host-extraordinaire Clarissa Rayward. Clarissa’s book ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’ follows her learnings on unhappiness in the legal profession and takes the form of how to achieve the five traits of a H.A.P.P.Y. Lawyer, being; Health, Attitude, Passion, Purpose, and staying true to You. But two years on from the start of her podcast Clarissa told us that she’s learnt so much from her 100+ guests that it’s time for a whole new acronym and it’s only right that it spell out L.A.W.Y.E.R

L is for Learner – a happy lawyer should be a lifelong learner, the happiest lawyers Clarissa has met love the work they do and are always challenging themselves to be their best and learn as much as they can in their chosen craft.

A is for Artist – a happy lawyer should be an artist, but maybe not in the traditional sense. Lately, Clarissa has been exploring the idea of the benefits that integrating creativity into your law life can bring, you can read all about the panel event hosted in May on this very topic here. At the end of the day it’s all about embracing the bad-mood-busting, mindful, left-side-brain-loving benefits that creativity can give you.

W is for Worker – a happy lawyer works hard. There’s no doubt that the job of a lawyer in 2018 is never done and whilst we’re so fortunate that talk of work-life-integration and not taking your work home with you is in the forefront of our minds at the moment, you can’t beat the fact that there’s always work to get through. Changing your mindset from “I’ll never get through it all” to “look at all the things I get to do” and giving your work your best self while you are at work will go a long way to you feeling satisfied and proud of the amazing job you do each day.

Y is for Yoga – a happy lawyer has ‘yoga like flexibility’. Clarissa admits that this one may need some work but there is a Y is Lawyer and the HAPPY LAWYER acronym is just too good to give up! Having flexibility in your law school studies and career will enable you to overcome the curveballs that will undoubtedly come your way. Having flexibility is all about acceptance, acceptance that not everything is going to be perfect all the time. 

E is for Ego – a happy lawyer has to have an ego. Clarissa makes the important distinction that the ego of a happy lawyer is one that allows you to back yourself without feeling the need to compete.

R is for Relationships – a happy lawyer has people who love them for who they are and loves others back in the same way. Clarissa says that relationships are the core and key to happiness and when it’s all said and done, long after our lives in law, it will be the people we loved that we will remember best.

Time for Q's & A's

The formal part of the evening was capped off with attendees having the chance to pick the brains of the magnificent legal mind that is the Hon Michael Kirby. The Q&A took many varied turns from whether Queensland should adopt a Bill of Rights to whether we can be optimistic about future law reform and what the future of law will actually look like. The key learnings from His Honour’s answers were these; the best piece of advice that His Honour has ever received is “don’t be boring”, love is most important at the end of the day and it’s His Honour’s 49 year partnership that has taught him that and finally; that when the bench grapples with empathy vs. reason, it must remember that there is a difference between the mechanical, formalistic rule of law and the rule of law which dignifies us. 

Leaving the event on Friday night I couldn’t help but reflect that the most important and meaningful effect that the Happy Lawyer Happy Life podcast has made on it’s listeners is the community it has created. Before, a mission to be happier, healthier and more authentic to your individual personality in law-land might have been a lonely pursuit. Today, all the friends we’ve met and connections we’ve made thanks to Clarissa’s hard work means that we’ve found our tribe and have so many others to share our adventures in law land with, what a great thing to have found!

Kiarah Grace Kelly

Kiarah Grace Kelly

Blogger and Happy Law Student 

Hi! I am Kiarah Kelly a conscientious and hard-working soon to be lawyer living on the Gold Coast with an eye on social justice and effecting much needed change in the community, even if that means starting small. I am studying a dual Bachelors degrees in Law and Government and International Relations as Griffith University on the Gold Coast. I have been testing my legal toes in the water at boutique Gold Coast Law firms and I am currently merrily serving as a Legal Secretary to Merv Morris and Blayne Ledger of Barron and Allen Lawyers- GC in the Property, Commercial and Family Law sectors. 


I have also been championing a personal cause of Youth Road Safety Issues over the last 12 months, unrelentingly working alongside the minister for Road Safety Mr Mark Bailey, on numerous projects within his office.

What’s on my horizon? My passion for family violence prevention, family law issues and women’s legal issues will be a guiding light for my future career.  I aim to graduate with dual degrees in November of 2018 and until then, I will travel the world, focusing heavily on volunteer pursuits here at home and continue making waves in the discussion of Youth Road Safety issues in this country.

I would love to connect with you on Linkedin and Instagram!


3 Goals for Second Year Law Students

3 goals for second year law students! 

Author Samara Wendt

This week we are adding a new Blogger to our Student team, Samara Wendt- another fun loving and talented law and psychology student. 

Samara has penned a great piece on goal setting for 2nd year law students but as someone who finished second year law a very long time ago, I found her thoughts on goal setting a great reminder for me too!


New Year Goals are so six months ago. Having ‘Start of Financial Year Goals’ is where the magic happens. Well my fingers are crossed something close to magic happens. Over the last semester I accepted some aspects of my study just weren’t working. I’m talking blatant issues which I could easily identify but, I chose to keep trotting on through the semester and hoping I would survive. Miraculously, I did still get some decent grades at the end of it, but I now wonder, if I had made only a few small changes what could I have achieved? No more wasting time I say! They say there is no time like the present to make a goal so I’m changing my study habits. I believe with the use of three books, my study routine will see benefits galore! Here’s how…  

Goal 1: I will make all my notes in notebooks

I have always been a hand writer of my notes for various reasons, including for the memory gains *insert muscle emoji* and the mutual distain technology and I have for each other. For a semester I dipped my toes into typed notes, but a corrupted computer resulted in ten weeks of notes being lost and a lot of tears. A lot. Side note, I was using a USB and OneDrive to back up my work but they also failed me. So back to paper I went. Despite always being a hand writer, I haven’t found a way to format and store notes that I find easy to access and beneficial to read over. Lined, loose paper was always my go to for notes, with a stapler and folder being my method of organisation, or madness. The idea of loose paper was to organise all the relevant lecture, tutorial and reading notes. But, what do you think my chances of finding the lecture, tutorial and reading notes on the same topic would be? Very unlikely with a side of tears. 

So, this semester I am using notebooks for all of my notes. I hope this will bring more organisation between the various notes and ultimately make end of semester exam prep more productive. At least, I will minimise the tears resulting from notes of any kind. However, the organisation of my notes relies on the success of the next goal. 

Goal 2: Make MORE of an effort to do MORE readings

I have developed a few nifty hacks to avoid purchasing expensive textbooks (which I look forward to sharing), but it’s my lack of commitment to completing readings that ruins the excitement of those hacks. While all the good intentions to do readings and make effective notes are present at the start of the semester, as soon as a couple of assignments are dropped into the mix my weekly readings become more of a dream than a reality. Tell me that’s a universal law student dream… 

I recently saw a cartoon that explained the importance of readings. It showed a book shining light directly into the pictured character’s face. The next frame was of the character with the same light shining from its eyes. To me, the knowledge I could be gaining from those readings, that I simply don’t make time to do, is unbelievable. I could be shining so much more knowledge into my assignments, exams and future career but am missing out because of my lazy habit!

My goal is now to continue completing prescribed weekly readings even when stress hits. It is just a matter of making time available and being more conscious of how I spend my time elsewhere! This coincidently leads to my third goal.

Goal 3: Use my diary to become more organised with my time.

If you do not have a physical diary I could not recommend it enough. It makes organising and keeping track of life so much easier. I am a visual learner and having all important dates marked for me to visually reference is the most beneficial thing for my success. Even using your diary to forward plan on assessments and projects is made so much easier with a physical diary. However, it is the way in which I use my ‘extra’ time that is bringing me down. My ‘extra’ time is usually when I don’t have something scheduled to do in my diary. Really, this is when I should be doing those readings or completing my notes. But I don’t. Instead, I make myself give up hope of readings being completed to spend double the time binge watching The Crown or Millionaire Hot Seat. Don’t get me wrong, when you are stressed you need to stop and relax for a little time. Emphasis on the little time. Unfortunately, being as witty as Eddy McGuire is optional in the courtroom and should be classified as a extra-curricular (i.e. not important!). 

This semester I aim to use my time more wisely. Instead of simply writing ‘study’ across a period of time, I am writing specific tasks and time frames to complete them in. These tasks are as specific as writing ‘Research Methods Tutorial Prep’ or ‘Counselling Readings’. Fingers crossed this method becomes rewarding at end of semester for assignments and exams.

Lesson Learnt!

But would goal setting be complete without acknowledging the harm my current habits were causing? It seems I was subjecting myself to a domino effect of low productivity which directly affected my success in all areas of study. Like I said, I knew my ignorance to change habits earlier could have prevented me to be questioning my potential. But what is a bad habit if not a lesson learnt. 

There we have three semester goals using three different books! Let’s all say goodbye to time wasting regret and hello to productivity! Now the only question remaining is – what are your goals for the second semester?

Join me in making semester goals! Even if it is a single goal let’s work together. Connect with me on Instagram and Linkedin and lets manifest goal success together! 

Samara Wendt

Blogger and Happy Law Student 

Hi! My name is Samara and I am an over opinionated, awkward and Imposter Syndrome suffering Law and Psychology student at the Queensland University of Technology. I never had that light-bulb moment when choosing to study law. I am not sure if many people so. But after witnessing injustice and suffering of those vulnerable in our world, I became determined to help. This is where going into law made sense for me. 

Despite believing in my purpose, I openly feel the dreaded law school Imposter Syndrome. You know, when you feel like everyone else has got ‘it’ together and you don’t even know what day it is. This year I became determined to embrace this clueless feeling by moving out of comfort zone. This included entering an Instagram competition with The Happy Family Lawyer which led me here! 

Here I am blogging about all things law school, student life and comfort zones in hopes to find fellow Imposter Syndrome suffers. 

Join the journey here on The Happy Law Student Blog and connect with me on Instagram and Linkedin


7 affirmations to get me to my happy place! By Jelena Dmitrovic

7 affirmations to get me to my happy place! By Jelena Dmitrovic

Jelena Dmitrovic; When I was first asked to write this blog my immediate reaction was to feel worries. This being my first ever blogging experience I thought to myself, “I have no idea how to write a blog!”

Being in my final year of uni (and a tiny way through the gigantic workload that comes with Honours studies), I’ve noticed this sort of self-doubt occasionally creeping into my thoughts about my thesis as well. I’ve found myself thinking, ‘There are so many brilliant specialists and academics in family law! I’m no expert, how am I ever going to contribute something original and meaningful?’

At times like these when I feel a bit unsure about myself I remind myself of these 7 little affirmations to boost my spirits, to regain my positive perspective and return me to my happy place.

7. It is okay to feel like you're not an expert on everything that comes your way.

The reality is, we will always have something to learn from a new situation and someone will always have something to contribute that perhaps you haven’t thought about. Don’t let this make you feel negative about yourself! Instead take this opportunity, and every other opportunity that comes your way, to learn something new and remember you will always have your own unique perspective on things. After all how boring would life be if we all thought the same and already knew everything about everything!

6. Embrace 'the deep end'!

This is easier said than done sometimes, I know this from personal experience. The day before my first day doing reception duties at BFLC I was writing pages and pages of notes on processes, coming up with a detailed plan of how the day would unfold, and I was worrying the whole time that I would mess it all up. In my mind, ultimate preparation was a MUST for that first day. When the day came, I did better than I initially gave myself credit for and it turns out I went a bit overboard with the ultimate preparation. Looking back I think, it’s great that I took the initiative to be as prepared as I possibly could be but, you just don’t have to put this pressure on yourself to have an indestructible step-by-step process for every single situation in life. Sometimes you just have to wing it. The deep end will always be unknown but, with faith in your abilities, it can mean soft rolling waves instead of rough seas.

5. Be kind to yourself on the days when you are struggling to give uni your 100%.

Some days you may find yourself lacking motivation or just feeling like you can’t give uni your 100% and be super productive. I’ve found myself feeling like this plenty of times and in my earlier uni years I remember searching for an explanation and then coming up disappointed when I couldn’t pinpoint the exact roadblock in my productivity. This year I have tried to remind myself that it’s okay to have days that are slower than others. It’s also okay to not have an explanation for these days. I try not to think of these days as unproductive days. Just because you may not have ticked off all of the things on your to-do list that day, doesn’t mean you weren’t productive. Maybe you took the chance to have some down time and to rest, or to catch up with a friend or family member, or to get out into the fresh air and sunshine. If you use days like these to care for your wellness and to remind yourself of your passion for your studies or work, you can count that as a very productive day indeed! 

4. Accept the things you can't change.

I’m sure I speak on behalf of many law students when I say, there will always be something along the way that feels unfair: early classes on a Monday morning, unforgiving deadlines, or back to back exams. Getting frustrated and complaining about this may feel great in the moment and give you temporary relief, but ultimately it sets you into a negative mind frame for the next time such a situation arises. Acknowledging that that’s just the way things are, that there’s probably not much you can do to change things, and doing your best to just get on with the task at hand will set you into a determined frame of mind to overcome that challenge and will greatly contribute to your wellness in the long run. 

3. Celebrate your own little victories inside and outside law land.

My most recent little victory was going fishing for the very first time. Now this may seem silly to some, but for me this was a brand new learning experience entirely unrelated to uni. It gave me the opportunity to be technology-free for a few hours and to really be in the moment, to witness a beautiful sunrise on the beach, and now I have a memory to think back on and keep me happy and motivated when uni gets even more challenging. Make sure you take some time out to create and celebrate your own little victories. 

2. Don't take things so seriously.

The most confronting thing someone has said to me in law land so far is, ‘Jelena you take things too seriously’. Initially I was a little bit taken aback but when I stopped to think about this it really helped me in realising how much pressure I was putting on myself over some pretty simple, and for lack of better expression, easy-going tasks. Since that comment I have tried to take things a little less seriously, not to say that I don’t put due significance and effort into things that require it, but I am definitely trying not to overthink things. It is equally as important to set yourself realistic expectations that you can achieve and be proud of yourself for. 

1. Life is all about doing life well.

These wise words came from someone very close to me at a time when law school was really challenging and I was feeling particularly helpless. I feel like this is the best advice I’ve received along my journey through law land so far and this is now my number 1 mantra when life throws a curveball my way. Take from it what you will and whatever it means to you, but for me it means that  

This is a photo of gorgeous Jelena Dmitrovic

Jelena Dmitrovic 

Blogger and Happy Law Student 

Hello! I’m Jelena, a final year law student at Griffith University and Law Clerk at Brisbane Family Law Centre! 

My path to law school took some twists and turns and I am grateful for the learnings I have gained along the way: embrace every opportunity that comes your way, even when is seems more like a setback than an opportunity, as nothing is ever wasted. 

Along my journey in law land I have enjoyed pursuing my interest in family law both at university and through volunteering at the FLPA Family Law Residential 2017, attending networking and professional development events, and partaking in work experience programs. 

In November 2017 I had the pleasure of joining the BFLC team and within this unique little firm I have made some great work friends and gained an incredible amount of practical experience in just a short time. 

I anticipate admission in 2019 and until then I look forward to graduating in November 2018, travelling, and of course spending as much time in the outdoors as possible. 


Shall we dance? By Zinta Harris

Shall we dance?

I have recently started Latin dancing classes with my hubby Craig. 

We have been talking about doing this for about 15 years, and finally after a friend challenged my thinking, we signed up and started in the new year!

We love it!

As parents of two kids, each running our own businesses, we don’t get a lot of time for – just us. So, this is something we have really enjoyed (even if we don’t swap partners as the rest of our class do – they know us now and understand!) 

We have just started our second term and things are getting a little more complex! We have learned the basics in salsa, merengue, zouk lambada, bachata and samba – now we are getting stuck into learning how to add in turns, waves and the occasional body roll! 

For someone like me – a self-confessed control freak and a dancer used to choreography – I am having issues with being a follower and letting Craig take the lead!

In the beginning I couldn’t help myself, I would take over and tell Craig what to do! But as time has gone on (and Craig has been taught how to lead) I am actually letting go and going with his flow.  I can even now get to the point where I can close my eyes and relax, knowing that I don’t have to think – all I need to do is go with his lead. Actually, pretty life-changing for me! That said, poor Craig does have steam coming out his ears most of the time having to think about what comes next!

So how has this transformation occurred I hear you ask? Well, I will happily admit that in the most part it took quite a bit of “unlearning” and letting go from little ol’ me!

Our instructors talk about connection and frame (yes, yes, just like in the movie Dirty Dancing!). But I can tell you – it is everything! 

We must both keep our frame (our arm position and body angle) strong and aligned with each other. This is because it is key to how the leader communicates the next move to the follower. If Craig steps forward, the resistance in my arms means that I can only step back. 

The frame is key to connection, but connection is more than frame. Connection is literally the physical communication between the leader and the follower to signal what is coming next. If Craig takes a step sideways and guides me with his arm around my back, then we change direction from a front-to-back movement to a side-to-side movement. If Craig lets one arm of our frame go and raises the other, it means he is about to spin me around. 

The connection is possible in both “closed frame” or “open frame” dancing – whether we are closer together or further apart. The key for me as a follower (in my total 16 weeks of experience – ha!) is to keep watching the angle of Craig’s chest. Thankfully even at the age of 50, his is a pretty nice chest to be looking at….but I digress! The angle of his chest is telling me how he intends to travel next. If he plans to move sideways it will turn as he gets ready to change direction. 

So why, oh why am I rabbiting on about frame and connection and steamy Latin dancing on the Happy Lawyer Happy Life blog? 

Well – apart from dancing being part of my own way of injecting a bit of “happy” into my law life – it struck me recently, when being asked by Clarissa Rayward to speak about Creativity in the Law, that we as lawyers might benefit from a bit of “unlearning” so that we too might better follow our client’s lead. 

This year I have learnt a few new skills. 

I have become trained as a collaborative lawyer (thanks to the training provided by none other than the happy lawyer herself) and I am now a nationally accredited mediator (having completed the intensive (and quite intense) course and assessment with the College of Law)!

Before undertaking these courses, I have, in my 20 plus years of practice, taken many a client through mediation and I have practiced in what I considered to be a “collaborative” way (i.e. I always try first – and over and over again – to reach a practical, commercial resolution as soon as is humanly possible so that legal costs are not wasted fighting over things needlessly).

Before undertaking these courses, I thought they would be “easy” to complete. They were anything but! Why? Because my thinking was challenged. I was forced to unlearn all that “lawyering” had taught me – how to analyse “facts” through the relevant legal “filters” and to then suggest the best “solution” to the clients. Now there is, of course, nothing wrong with that approach. But what this approach seems to miss is that these “facts” are actually lived out in a real way by actual people – most of whom are adults capable of making their own decisions about their life and how to live it. To these people, while there might be a legally “correct” position at law – a more creative, flexible, practical solution might actually work better for them. 

My area of specialisation is in complex estate administration and contested estates. In this context I have seen items of “sentimental” value far more hotly contested than items with pure “monetary” value. Why? Because these items are the things that are important to the client. 

After completing these courses, I am more convinced now than ever, that the key to resolving disputes quickly (with the least cost to the client) is to let go of our temptation to jump in with the legal solution and to instead ask clients what they want. To do that will mean (particularly for those of us who have been around the traps for a while) that we will need to “unlearn” our problem-solving skills and to learn new skills so that we can empower our clients to author their own settlements. We will need to learn the skills of active listening, of re-framing negative statements into statements with a positive future focus, of finding commonality between feuding clients, and of keeping communications calm and respectful. Some might say these are “soft skills”, but if you have witnessed how they can transform the mood in a room and how they can cut through to the real life issues driving the conflict – you will know their power.

As lawyers in this “dance” with our clients – we must learn to follow the client’s lead, but we must also remain strong in our frame so that we are sure to partner well in the best interests of our client. 

So, as we look for “new and creative” ways to lawyer and stay relevant and useful to our clients – let’s not just focus on the ways in which technology can improve the way we deliver our service, let’s also look for ways in which we can adapt and learn new skills so that we can allow our clients to take control of their own settlements. It might just be life-changing!

Zinta Harris

An image of Zinta Harris

Zinta Harris

Specialist Succession & Business Lawyer  

Zinta Harris is a specialist wills and estates and business succession lawyer and the owner of Resolve Estate Law. Over the past 24 years, Zinta has worked with grieving families to help them manage the fallout after the loss of a loved one. Her specialist focus is now exclusively in resolving wills and estates disputes and complex estate administrations. As a Nationally Accredited Mediator and trained collaborative lawyer, Zinta always seeks to guide matters to settlement as quickly and as peacefully as possible. 

Zinta’s goal is to change the face of how contested estates are dealt with. She is developing a training program on a collaborative practice framework (already successfully applied in the divorce context) for disputed estates matters – so that families are empowered to manage their inheritance without inheriting heartache.

In response to seeing the impacts of grief on her clients last year Zinta began to write her personal blog “Catching the Curveball” where she talks about how we respond when curveballs come our way. 


In Case You Missed It: Creativity in the Law Panel Discussion presented by Clarissa Rayward

In Case You Missed It: Creativity in the Law Panel Discussion Presented by Clarissa Rayward!

Kiarah Grace Kelly; When a Barrister, a CEO, a Judge, a Dual Accredited Specialist and a Founder of a Non-for-Profit sit down to chat you can be sure that plenty of seriously inspiring words will be shared. However, when those same people gather to discuss creativity (and in the Law of all places!) and the discussion is being facilitated by The Happy Family Lawyer – Clarissa Rayward, you can also be sure that we never really did know what to expect. Of course this was most obvious when a panellist pulled out a sandy blonde mullet wig and demanded to be called ‘Jayse.’ All of this and more really did occur when we gathered to raise funds for Dancing CEOs and the Women’s Legal Service at the offices of Grant Thornton on Wednesday 9 May 2018. 

On the panel we had Matthew Hickey – Barrister, singer extraordinaire and member of the hugely successful group the 10 Tenors, stories of which he can no doubt dine out on for ever more. To his right sat the 2018 Agnes McWhinney award winner – Ann-Maree David. The panel also included His Honour Justice Colin Forrest of the Family Court, Zinta Harris – founder of Harris Law and Dual Accredited Specialist as well as Milan Gandhi – founder of The Legal Forecast and Graduate at McCullough Robertson. 

What Does Creativity Mean to You?

The evening started with each of the panellists reflecting on what creativity really meant to them. Although a simple enough question, the responses which followed were incredibly insightful, practical and allowed us a chance to get to know each of the panellists. Matthew believes that creativity occurs when we have to “work out what isn’t, and then work out how it can be”. This concept of problem solving and out-of-the-box thinking is extremely commonplace in the work that lawyers do and yet we so very rarely put these skills in the same box as our creative ones. Zinta said that creativity evokes a sense of flow, slowness and reflection. The concept of flow is by no means a new one, now a widely accepted term in positive psychology; flow is the full immersion in a feeling of energised focus (thanks, Wikipedia)! Justice Forrest described creativity as the flexibility we must have with the pathways we take in life. For me, His Honour’s advice applies to the big and small journeys we have to complete. Whether it be your wider career path, a plan for what you want out of your life or even how you plan to approach a single matter, we must prepare for surprises and be creative in our efforts to overcome them. Milan insists that creativity can, and does, occur in our everyday lives and Ann-Maree reminds us that it’s not something that happens according to plan. Ann-Maree’s reflections reminded me that creativity and flow can occur in even the most unexpected ways, which means we must also look for creativity in unexpected places.

My journey toward creativity has been fraught (well, not really). However, I do feel like I’ve always lived with the impression that creativity is for those who paint, recite poetry or have complicated coffee orders. While these are clearly very worthy creative outlets, they are not an exhaustive list. I discovered creativity when I decided to make an effort to live as ‘authentically Kiarah’ as I could. This inspired a love for unique fashion and using greater expression with how I dress, it also meant that I would decorate the spaces where I spent the most time with colour, fun and special things which felt more me. You probably won’t find anything of mine which isn’t obscenely colourful and that’s exactly the way I love it. 

Making Mistakes!

I can’t tell a story of creativity without producing a cautionary note – beware the spare room in my house. To put it simply it is a graveyard of all my abandoned hobbies and projects, if anyone is in the market for half completed paintings or unknitted scarves, I’m your girl. This brings me to a personal highlight of the panel event. Clarissa asked the panel to reflect on what it means to make a mistake and the following quote was splashed across the projector screens; “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty.” When asked to respond Milan explained that he has seen firsthand the unique brand of self-doubt experienced by lawyers. He said that even when we are called on to attack a completely blank canvas, where there is seemingly no right or wrong answer, our rigidity as lawyers will surface and may cause us to be too afraid to make a mistake or to even try. Milan told us stories of the early days of The Legal Forecast, when doubt had come across his team and the fear of making a mistake had put a hold on the project which they were working on. Milan encouraged us to remember to give our all to everything that we do. If we do, a task which might make us feel like we could have done better, which we may have only mustered 60% of our capability for – that 60% will still blow people away, and that we will always be left with a sense of pride. It was after this part of the night where I realised the very important place failure has in the discussion of creativity. There is no right way to be creative, to incorporate it into legal practice or to embrace it across our own lives. Rather, if we try and try again we can find new passions, find flow in our existing passions and be better people and lawyers because of it. 

Is creativity the answer to the future of law? Or perhaps more importantly, is creativity your answer to a future in law that you love?

Kiarah Grace Kelly 

Some wonderful moments from the night!

Kiarah Grace Kelly

Kiarah Kelly

Blogger and Happy Law Student 

Hi! I am Kiarah Kelly a conscientious and hard-working soon to be lawyer living on the Gold Coast with an eye on social justice and effecting much needed change in the community, even if that means starting small. I am studying a dual Bachelors degrees in Law and Government and International Relations as Griffith University on the Gold Coast. I have been testing my legal toes in the water at boutique Gold Coast Law firms and I am currently merrily serving as a Legal Secretary to Merv Morris and Blayne Ledger of Barron and Allen Lawyers- GC in the Property, Commercial and Family Law sectors. 

I have also been championing a personal cause of Youth Road Safety Issues over the last 12 months, unrelentingly working alongside the minister for Road Safety Mr Mark Bailey, on numerous projects within his office.

What’s on my horizon? My passion for family violence prevention, family law issues and women’s legal issues will be a guiding light for my future career.  I aim to graduate with dual degrees in November of 2018 and until then, I will travel the world, focusing heavily on volunteer pursuits here at home and continue making waves in the discussion of Youth Road Safety issues in this country.

I would love to connect with you on Linkedin and Instagram!