To the Graduating Class of 2018! By Kiarah Grace Kelly

This is an image of Kiarah Grace Kelly throwing her graduation hat in the air.

To the Graduating Class of 2018!

Author Kiarah Kelly

The last few weeks of this year have seen the usual Christmas chaos for most of us but for many of the students around us, these weeks have been filled with Graduation ceremonies- those important days when all of that hard university work is finally acknowledged and the next big step in their professional lives is about to begin.  To bring us into Christmas and celebrate all of those of you who have been throwing those graduation hats in the air, Kiarah is back with a wonderful piece that makes for perfect reading for law students, graduates and even the most seasoned of lawyers.


I dedicate this post to all the 2018 Graduates out there, I think you’re amazing. You’ve poured over hundreds of thousands of typed words, stayed up far too late to complete a task only to get to bed and not be able to fall asleep because you were worried the work you did was not enough. Maybe you woke up on too many mornings thinking that your day ahead was too difficult, too full. Maybe you juggled five classes, a part-time job, your families’ expectations, work experience, clerkship applications, maybe a few breakups, definitely some fun times and absolutely a handful of free LSA lunches in exchange for sitting through yet another PLT presentation AND you endured all of this madness all while trying to remember that the footnote needs to go AFTER the full stop (wait, was that just me?). In October of this year I was asked to deliver the Graduating Student Address to the end of year Law Ball at my university. I thought I’d reproduce my speech as a blog post here where you’ll find my anecdotes of my time at law school, a few attempts at humour and me doing by absolute best to do justice to the unbelievable hard work of my fellow 2018 Graduates. I don’t claim to have all the answers, I just simply don’t. In fact, I’m terrified of what lies ahead for me and I need your help with that; I have put together a list of lessons I’ve taken from the interwebs and from those more clever than I, a list of promises that I think we can look back to when we need them, as I fear the hardest parts of our journeys are still ahead.

1- Let's promise to make friends without fear!

There will be times in our career that we will second guess ourselves, where we will fear what we propose to do next, and that’s okay! Remember that every single thought you’ve ever had and ever will have, is founded in biology in some way. Fear is the brains tool used protect us. Fear stopped you when you were climbing trees as a child just at the moment where you were about to climb too high. Fear taps you on the shoulder each time you cross the road, just to remind you to look both ways. Fear isn’t anything to be scared of, I like to think that fear can become a sort of friend who is just trying to look out for you. I guess you also have to know when to tell your fears to step aside, that you’ve got this and that you’re gonna give whatever scary thing happens to be in front of you your best shot.

Which brings me to promise number 2- Let's promise to be kind to ourselves.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. I believe that with everyone buzzing around this crazy world at a million miles an hour, the most important relationship we will ever have is the one we have with ourselves. You’ll never speak to anyone nearly as much as you will speak to yourself, so don’t you dare spend your whole life putting yourself down. 

3- Let's not ever be boring!

Now there were plenty of quotes I found about being different when I consulted the all-knowing Google Image search, but, in keeping things simple I decided to use a quote by Sir Richard Branson; “it is only by being bold that you will ever get anywhere”. And to be honest, I’m going to listen to Sir Rich on this one (I don’t think we should doubt the guy who is responsible for sending people into space, for fun)! No but seriously, there is no greater injustice then you failing to be yourself. I believe that if you for some reason keep a part of yourself from the world, they’re not going to miss it, it’s only yourself that you are cheating, it’s a part of your own life your declining to live. So, don’t be boring!

4- Let's not forget to put out the fishing net.

We’ve all no doubt heard from those our elder that should we make it to the top of our own personal summit that you’ve got to put out the ladder so that you can help someone else get a leg up, too. That way you’ve got someone to celebrate with, yeah? This all-important lesson has been particularly focused around women supporting other women, but I think it’s one all people should try to live by. Author Kristin Ferguson says that in 2018 we’ve got to ditch the ladder and instead use a fishing net. That is, raise as many people as you can up with you on your journey to success, this way you can turn that party of two into a proper shindig and you’ll have a whole lot more people beside you, the more the merrier! I believe if you’ve done the work, no one can take that away from you, let’s ditch the competition. 

Last but not least, promise number 5- Do your best to weather the storms.

In 1999 Baz Lurman reworked into music an essay by advice columnist Mary Schmich and he called it ‘the Suncreen Song’. Schmich urges her readers to remember that most often, worrying is futile as “the real troubles in your life are apt to be things that will blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday”. This simply means the most challenging moments in your life, the moments of tragedy and actual trial, you won’t ever even contemplate, and certainly won’t get a chance to worry about in advance. So, don’t sweat the small stuff.

To all the graduates of 2018 out there, Congratulations! I don’t know about you but the day I got to wear my robes and throw that $80,000 cap in the air, was one of the proudest days of my life. It’s no easy feat but we’re also so incredibly lucky to have access to the gift of a university education. I wish you all the very best, I can not WAIT to watch each and every one of the graduates I know and to those reading this blog post flourish and do amazing things.   

PS: Believe it or not this is my last post on the Student Edition of the Happy Lawyer Happy Life blog. To follow my adventures in lawland further you’ll have to find me on the Lawyers Edition of this fine website (I know, it’s weird for me too!) 


Kiarah Grace Kelly

Kiarah Grace Kelly

Blogger and Happy Lawyer

Hi! I am Kiarah Grace Kelly, I have just finished a dual Bachelors degree in Law and Government and International Relations at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. I tested my legal toes in the water at a boutique Gold Coast law firm before starting as a Law Graduate at Brisbane Family Law Centre in November 2018. I’ve just been admitted here in Queensland which makes me a Brand New Lawyer or #babylawyer as the BFLC gang likes to say. My sole practice area is Family Law.

I’m looking forward to writing about and sharing with you all that I can at this crazy-exciting but daunting stage of my career. I think there’s a need to talk about our experiences as early career lawyers so that we can all lean on each other as much as we can.

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


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

This is an image of The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG at Podcast Party

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!