Yesterday I returned from what can only be described as an incredibly successful event. The FLPA Retreat 2018 at Noosa. Not only was it successful, but it instilled a great sense of inspiration and empowerment in me as a family lawyer and mediator.
My background is in criminal law and I recall a number of years ago when I went to the private bar and considered a family law brief for the very first time. I was warned. ‘Hmmm, are you sure?’, a colleague raised her eyebrows at me. She went on to say, ‘those family lawyers don't really like it when we crime types walk down Tank Street into their jurisdiction’. Perhaps I have experienced the odd, ‘you’re not from around here’, attitude from a few family lawyers, but on the whole, I can honestly say they are quite an inspirational bunch.
As I reflect upon the FLPA Retreat, I now firmly believe that family lawyers are a special kind of lawyer. The kind who have a real and honest desire to help people. The kind who are not afraid to get into the trenches of human emotion and family breakdown and wade around in it. The kind who put their heart, soul and lives into selflessly assisting others who are often at the lowest points of their lives. Their heart and soul was never more evident than it was at the FLPA Retreat. Lawyers who are truly connected and who ‘get’ one another, because they all wade around in those murky trenches together.
Speaking of murky trenches, the highlight of the FLPA Retreat for me was, without a doubt, Courage Under Fire by Rabia Siddique. An incredible story told by a courageous Lawyer, Soldier, Muslim, Hostage, Woman and Mother. She showed us how leadership, courage and resilience can emerge from the darkness of trauma, abuse and discrimination. She challenged us, as lawyers, to have faith that we too can be the change in people’s lives. To speak up when others remain silent. To stand up when others remain seated. And stood we did and speak we could not, after hearing her powerful story.
As I return to the trenches of Family Law and Mediation this week, I am inspired to courageously speak up for and empower those who cannot navigate family law and conflict themselves. I do so, knowing that I have the support and comradery of an incredible and committed group of lawyers around me that I am proud to call colleagues.