How to be happy in law and in life! The Law Student edition by Kiarah Grace Kelly

Today, as I was working my way through a long complicated property settlement analysis an email appeared in my inbox with the title ‘Blog Time’. Now usually I advocate for doing only one thing at a time and not allowing those email notifications to distract you from the task at hand, but today I broke my own rules and I am so glad I did! 

Almost a year ago now I spoke at an event facilitated by the College of Law here in Brisbane on happiness in law and in the front row was a law student waring one of my favourite Gorman prints who I have since come to know as Kiarah Grace Kelly. Over the past year Kiarah and I have connected on Instagram, met at many events and I would even say have become friends thanks to our shared love of life, law and Gorman. So today, when into my inbox pops an email from Kiarah, I couldn’t help but pause on that property settlement and read her thoughts. 

Kiarah has taken the plunge over the past few months and has been writing on her own experiences as a law student. She is a talented writer- funny and fun but importantly she has a beautiful way with words and knows how to share an important message to her peers. Since falling into the world of ‘legal wellness advocate’ I have come to hear from hundreds of law students who are struggling to find just where they fit into ‘Law Land’ as I fondly call it. It has been almost 2 decades since I enjoyed my own few years at law school and so I am not sure I am always well placed to comment on what life in 2017 is like as a law student. The pace is so different (I managed most of my degree without access to that thing we called ‘the internet’) and the expectations of students seem much higher than in ‘my day’ (yes I am sounding old but as someone about to hit the big 40 in less than 3 weeks can I say I feel old too!)

So this is where Kiarah steps in- she is living it right now and is choosing to share her own experience, in both life and law, to help those around her. Any why wouldn’t we all support that! 

So today Kiarah took the brave step of sending me an article she has written, taking my 5 step ‘Happy’ acronym and translating my tips to the life of a law student and I loved it! So in the style of true collaboration I am posting Kiarah’s article and giving her the offical title of Happy Lawyer Happy Life’s first guest writer, having agreed to share her wisdom with us all over the months ahead!


Just five steps to happy- H is for Health, A is for Attitude, P is for Passion, P is for Purpose, Y is for You. Clarissa Rawyard- The Happy Family Lawyer has (literally) written the textbook when it comes to being a happier lawyer and while I’m not quite a lawyer yet I am eagerly studying her methods to be the best almost-lawyer that I can be. 

Like anyone, I am prone to moments of unhappiness. I have experienced depression and while I am now a whole lot better at recognising when a bout of blue is coming my way, I am certainly not immune to it. I read Happy Lawyer Happy Life cover to cover in a heartbeat and from it I know that lawyers are predisposed to pessimism and by virtue of our make up the way we tend to create out markers of success can leave us feeling less than 100%. Well, truth is this applies to law students as well, so here’s my attempt at translating some of the ‘stuff’ I’ve learnt from Clarissa into law school speak. 

H is for Health.
I am not about to preach to you all on how to live the perfectly healthy life as I have no idea. But here’s what I do know; there’s no rule of what exercise should look like, it needn’t take place solely within the four walls of a gym which your student budget may not allow for. I get my exercise by taking selfishly long walks on beautiful Gold Coast beaches at least three times a week. I walk until I’ve run out of podcasts in my feed and spend most of the time paranoid the sun is slipping through my over sized sun shirt and Bunnings branded wide brim hat, it’s totally fabulous. Most importantly, and you’ll find I say this a bit, do what feels right for you. Here’s some non-negotiables; binge drinking is bad and people at our stage of life tend to frequent this behaviour a little more then they should, make sure it;s not becoming a problem. Every time you’re about to head out ask yourself this; am I drinking because I want to or because I feel I have to? Next, watch your diet come exam time- for me; stress = carbs, I’m working on it. More on this point, energy drinks are bad, go get a coffee. Also, set your alarm for 8 hours after you go to sleep and go to sleep 8 hours before you need to set your alarm- this was you can Netflix to your heart’s content (within reason, probably). 

A is for Attitude.
Our Mindset is everything, the way our brain is feeling cast’s it’s own light on everything we do, I know that when I’m having one of those unhappy days I spoke of earlier- everything feels terrible. Here is where I go on my big social media rant. Instagram and Facebook will be credited as a major source of our unhappiness in the years to come- it’s just true. People of my age are among the first people of the planet who endured our entire developmental phase under the cloud of social media. We are the generation that knows all too well the phenomenon (that probable sounds completely insane to anyone older than us); the Instagram model. The Instagram model is someone who is paid a full time wage to pose and post. They carefully curate their feeds and every image is designed to sell us a product within it- I told you it was insane! A consequence of all this is that we spend our days looking at image after image which is completely manufactured and after time we end up feeling terrible about ourselves because of it. This issue extends through body image issues (for man and women) all the way to spending money of silly things to make us feel like we’re keeping up. Please, please, go onto your socials right now; turn off notifications and unfollow as many people you don’t know if ‘real’ life as you can bare. You will be forever better off for it- I promise you; Instagram is making you sad. 

P is for Passion and Purpose.
For these points I don’t have a whole lot of learnings to share my main message is this; find your passion, follow it and don;t get caught in the tide of being a ‘good law student’. You will have a couple of ‘aha!’ moments throughout your law degree. When you feel great doing something- follow it passionately. Don’t look sideways worrying about what everyone else is doing, if you’re doing something you love, it will seldom end badly. After losing my beautiful sister-in-law to in a car crash in 2015 I went full steam towards becoming a youth road safety advocate. Did I miss some ‘traditionally important’ law milestones in the meantime? Absolutely, but what I did gain was a fire in my belly which I believe is much more exciting. 

Y is for You. 
Now, this step is here for a reason. I’ve come to the conclusion that Clarissa, the very cleaver cookie that she is, has put this step at the end as it beautifully encompasses all the steps before it. If you listen to your health, focus on a positive attitude, find your passion and follow your purpose; you will be a better you. Once you find your ‘better you’ learn to love yourself and go wherever your ‘better you’ takes you. Spend days doing what YOU love, wear what YOU want (see Instagram model photograph), follow the path that YOU feel yourself taking. It’s cool to be different and in a world full of people, why would you want to be anyone other than you! 

 Ok ok, I’ve waffled on for quite a while now. Finally, my happiness challenge. This weekend go and do something that you used to love doing as a child; truth is when we were little we were a more authentic version of ourselves, this is because throughout high school we were so desperate to be like everyone else. We tend to spend our late teens trying to distance ourselves as much as possible from our inner child so whatever you loved doing as a child- go find that love again. If nothing else, it’ll be stacks of fun. 

Choose Happy, my fellow law students- this is a wonderful time in our lives!

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!