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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. 

Clarissa. 

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’.

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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 Harris 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. 

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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!

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