Why finding your voice matters! Understanding how to use your voice (and how others use theirs) can make you a more effective lawyer and person. 

This is an image of Matthew Hickey

Matthew Hickey

Author Hannah Trotter

It’s my very first retreat and the minute I heard it was opening with Matthew Hickey, I knew I was in for something outstanding! I’m a big fan, can you tell? Enter the man himself – Barrister, Singer, Songwriter, one of the original Ten Tenors and potentially my personal hero. (I put my hand up very quickly to write this blog!)

Matthew launches this ‘legal retreat like no other’ with a few unexpected questions. In a room full of legal professions, he asks who of the room have done singing lessons, and to my surprise, a huge number of hands are launched into their air.

With some common ground there, Matthew begins to introduce himself. Despite being from Ipswich (where Matthew says his heart still belongs) he learned from a young age that he was a little different from his fellow Ipswich school peers. While they adorned themselves in rugby uniforms, Matthew was interested in a different type of costume.

From Jean Valjean to the Sun God with gold painted nipples, Matthew shows us some never-before seen pictures of himself as young musical theatre extraordinaire.

We are given a behind the scenes look at Matthew Hickey’s music career, which somehow consists of pissing off a stage of Eurovision contestants, scaling the stairs at the famous Abbey Road Recording Studio, and having his face appear on an olive oil bottle – I mean, the guy is a proper big deal.

Drawing the similarities between his life in the music industry and now his life in law, we are taken on his journey from Ipswich schoolboy to Eurovision star. As a man who once wore musical theatre costumes and now appears in barristers’ robes – Matthew credits his journey to finding his voice.

As lawyers, we focus heavily on written work and style. We spend hours editing our correspondence, emails – you name it and we will scrutinise over it – but sometimes we lose sight when it comes to spoken work and even more challengingly, verbal style.

Verbal style consists of two aspects – the mental and the physical. What are we trying to communicate (the intention) and almost more importantly, how are we trying to communicate it (the manifestation).

“When intention matches manifestation, we find effective communication.”

Matthew acknowledges that this is something that requires purposeful thought and unfortunately society does not place a great deal of importance on it.

“Learning to communicate is like learning how to sing”. Thankfully, we have the man himself here today to teach a room full of lawyers how to get a little musical.

When we turn our minds to who we are speaking to, we make an active choice to connect the intention with the manifestation. Like singers, we manipulate our breath to convey not only the content of our message, but the pitch, rhythm, and timbre that speaks much louder than the words we use.  


For a second, as Matthew explains the technical aspects of singing, he loses me. I’m not sure what my diaphragm feels like but as that thought enters my head, Matthew interprets it and has everyone standing, heads between our legs, breathing with our diaphragms like professionals.  As people begin to feel the muscles used to push out air and get a sense of their breath flowing through their lungs, Matthew reminds us that we are all capable of the basic art of expressing ourselves. 

The Take Home

The key thing I learned from Matthew today is that if we are not feeling heard, or we are not being heard in the way we wish to be, we need to consider the way we are using our bodies and our voices to communicate our message.  

Then! It happens! The thing everyone told me would happen, but I couldn’t understand it until it unfolded before me. A FLASH MOB! All around me, attendees in wigs launch into a choreographed masterpiece and the retreats message is communicated loud and clear – we all have it in us to live our #bestlawlife.

And as if things couldn’t get any better – Matthew comes back for an encore and puts all those singing techniques into practice. One standing ovation later, the retreat is off to a marvellous start!  

Thank you to our partners for helping us bring The Retreat 2019 (a law conference like no other!) to you!


Joining us all the way from WA is the lovely Sarah from the team at LawCPD. Something us lawyers always need are those CPD points and our friends over at LawCPD have made it super easy for us. All their programs are online and available anywhere at anytime! How simple is that!! 

As a partner of the Club Retreat, LawCPD is offering all attendees their first online CPD course – worth 1 CPD point – for free! LawCPD’s online courses offer lawyers a fulfilling learning experience with every course packed full of informative and interactive legal content. 

Keep making the best of your law life with this great #clubretreat offer. You can access your first CPD point for free today by heading over to the LawCPD website here.


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!