Event Review | Happy Lawyering | New law, new practice and new starts
The following was written by Richard Gifford a co-founder and Executive Member of The Legal Forecast. Richard’s portfolio is access to justice and mental health.
On Thursday November 2016, Angus, Tegun, Milan and myself had the opportunity to attend Happy Lawyering – New Law, New Practice and New Starts, the final College of Law alumni event for 2016, at the scenic Sage rooftop function room – if you haven’t had the chance, this rooftop patio boasts a spectacular view of King George Square and the Brisbane skyline. The evening featured speakers Clarissa Rayward (Family Lawyer and author) and Matthew Burgess (Director of View Legal) sharing their perspectives on how disruption has helped them to be happier and more successful in their practise of law. His Honour Colin Forrest of the Family Court of Australia was entertaining and insightful as the evening’s chair.
Clarissa Rayward is a family lawyer, perhaps better known as the ‘Happy Family Lawyer’, who runs her own practice, the Brisbane Family Law Centre and her own mediation centre, the Brisbane Family Mediation Centre. Beginning with coaxing the 50-odd in attendance into getting up on their feet for a boogie, Clarissa provided a cheerful and optimistic account of how lawyers can, and should, be happy in legal practice. The Happy Family Lawyer was refreshing in her approach: through her H-A-P-P-Y acronym she painted a bright future for the legal fraternity, provided lawyers look after their ‘Health’, have the right ‘Attitude’, are clear of their ‘Purpose’, continue to pursue their ‘Passions’ (particularly those outside of work) and remember to be ‘Yourself’. Her latest book release, Happy Lawyer Happy Life is available in bookstores now. She has an active social media presence and has recently begun a fantastic podcast series interviewing members of the legal profession.
Matthew Burgess was formerly a partner at McCullough Robertson – a feat he managed in 5 years after starting as an articled clerk! Matthew is now director of View Legal, an innovative firm that, as he puts it, engages in the same areas of work as his former firm, yet distinguishes itself in terms of its work culture. H boasts that he is no longer bound by billable hours; outsources work internationally; and has no policy on holidays – that is to say, he has no maximum cap on his employees’ holidays, provided they get their work done. Matthew painted a picture of View Legal as a challenging, dynamic place to work, which takes its work culture very seriously. The View Legal director urged the audience to make the following books new additions to their book collections: “The Future of the Professions” by Richard and Daniel Susskind; “Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?” by Seth Godin, and “To Sell Is Human” by Daniel Pink.
The theme of the night was undoubtedly optimism: on both speakers’ accounts, young professionals must seize disruption and innovation; so as to enable them to undertake work of greater meaning and quality. Both Clarissa and Matthew, though greatly differing in their areas of work, were living, breathing embodiments that happiness, curiosity and work-life balance are vital to a lawyer’s success.