I commenced my working life, as a young 17 year old, working as a nurse’s aide. This was many, many years ago. During this time I first learnt about both the frailty of the human condition, but also the stories that people have to tell. Back then I was working in a tiny hospital in a very tiny town in New Zealand, which had 10 acute beds and a 25 bed nursing home. This is where it all began.
I went to university later that year and studied law, realising fairly quickly that I needed life experience in order to do this career justice. I saw nursing as something to do, until I was mentally old enough to undertake the legal profession, so trained as a nurse. I loved nursing and would never have left the field, where I worked in emergency, in the ambulance service and high dependency areas mainly. I loved the adrenaline that this role brought to me, and the very large impact that high level care can have to patients and families in their hours of need. Again, similar to the impact that high level legal advice and care can have to clients and families.
While I was nursing in Australia, I also started my law degree (with a strong view of never wanting to work in family law), as it was the niggling thing in the back of my mind that I just had to do. I loved it! Not the assignments and hard work (of course I did undertake two Bachelor degrees and then a Masters of Law and Family Law Specialist Accreditation – so although I say I didn’t like it, I guess I must have or I wouldn’t have kept going), but the involvement with people who need help, and the feeling that I helped them to get the results that they have walked away with. When I first moved to Toowoomba in about 2001, I was offered a job at Legal Aid as a secretary in the family law section, and that is how I got into this area. I am forever grateful that happened!
I often tell clients, you come in, usually not thrilled to be seeing a lawyer and a little worse for wear. I am not misguided in knowing that most people don’t wake up and high five the world at the thrill of seeing a lawyer that day (especially for their first appointment). They are often teary, stressed and sometimes barely holding themselves together. My moment of enjoyment is usually some months later, when they walk in, head high, ready to take on the world! They have regained some of what they may have lost during the early stages of separation, and hopefully are even happier or more contented than they were previously. These are the days I feel my job is important.
I really enjoy the story of the particular matter, and then the strategic planning of how to move forward in the best way possible. We all have those tough days, and these can be on occasion when I am calling home and my family is all there waiting for a family dinner while I am hours away and just finishing court – but I wouldn’t change my career at all.