During my university days, I had many jobs. Hair washer at the local hairdresser, bartender, call centre operator for an overseas charity, nightclub security, volunteer at the Magistrates Court, waitress, babysitter and English tutor.
But the job I loved the best was working for a plaintiff law firm, answering the phone and speaking to new clients. University was for theory, but this job was coal-face real-life. In a car accident, injured at work, bad cosmetic surgery, asbestos exposure – I heard it all and had to quickly develop skills in listening, being empathetic and compassionate and try and quickly work out which part of my Torts subject applied to the caller’s situation.
During the school holidays, I returned to regional Victoria, where I grew up, and did the same work in a regional office as well as volunteering at the local Legal Aid office. And my desire to help those injured try and restore their lives through a compensation process was sparked.
Fast forward 14 years and I was a mum of a young baby and had spent the previous eight years as a barrister. It was thrilling to appear in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and even the High Court with the best silks and working on the most interesting cases. But meeting and saying goodbye to the client after a short time only felt like I was missing out of being able to really support a client through the legal process. When the case was completed or settled, the brief was sent back and the client was not to be seen again.
Nothing focuses the mind like having a child and a serendipitous invitation to help lead the personal injury division of national law firm seemed like the best way to fulfil my desire to really work with clients throughout their entire journey but also lead and work with a team that felt helping people in this way was their calling.
After 20 years in personal injury practice, and with another baby on the scene to focus my priorities, I realised that I could create an environment where clients get the very best legal advice from the most experienced in the area – and it is guaranteed to be delivered in a way that is brave, compassionate and precise. The Brave Legal values. In addition to legal support, clients would have free counselling and social worker support so that we were trying our very best to help restore their lives after injury.
Having acquired a reputation, or so I am told, for taking on some of the hardest cases and working relentlessly to obtain a result for an injured person where I truly believed it was deserving, I often spoke of lawyers needing to be as brave as their clients. Bravery as a lawyer means constantly learning, striving, trusting your gut, trusting your years of experience, advocating for your client with both strength and importantly, respect, and giving straight, honest advice, even when it can be hard to deliver. I encouraged all the lawyers I have worked with in the past to be brave and I strive to live this value each day.
And so Brave Legal was born.