The Weekly LSA 05: Conversations with a Family Law Practitioner
Welcome to the first instalment of ‘Conversations with…’. A series of articles aimed at shedding light on a particular area in law through speaking to someone who’s work in the area has been extensive. Creating conversations with experienced professionals is an extremely helpful way of understanding possible career pathways as well as an opportunity to discover more about the legal landscape. Subsequently, having a less formal and more conversational sitting, allows the professional to give personal insight and suggestions for students to consider.
In this edition, our conversation is with Rosa Mimmo. Rosa has a background in family and de facto law and works as a primary dispute resolution practitioner, mediator and family law specialist. Currently, Rosa is the principal lawyer at Plaza Legal in Doncaster.
In Australian family law, there is no onus on who caused the relationship breakdown, instead importance is significantly placed on children involved and the best ways to help them. Family law includes all types of situations where dispute resolution is involved with family relationships, such as, separation, divorce, child support and care, and property and asset division.
Family law is becoming ever more increasingly necessary in today’s society. Ever since no-fault divorce was introduced by the Family Law Act 1975, divorce rates increased. Nowadays, although divorce rates are seen to have plateaued, family law is a field that is constantly changing and creating more opportunities for work.
What was your pathway to your current job and how did you kick start your career in law?
I did voluntary work at legal centres until such time that I was able to obtain employment.
I always wanted to specialise in family law and pursued those jobs only.
I initially worked for several years in an office that catered to by and large legal aid client’s which is a great starting point.
Legal aid work did not provide me with the experience I needed to develop my career as I had to have knowledge and experience in property matters as well.
I worked at a couple of other firms before I commenced work where and I and my boss wanted to retire so I purchased the practice just over 10 years ago.
What do you find particularly challenging in your field of work?
It is a challenge to be patient with client’s who are extremely emotional and do not necessarily listen to important advice that will have long term consequences for their futures. These clients need particularly special attention and repeating of advice to reinforce that they have actually heard it.
Meeting deadlines is a challenge as they suddenly creep up and you have to do the work under extreme pressure.
The work hours are long and there is little time left for anything else in life.
Sometimes also when you get a fantastic outcome, clients are still not happy. We say if everyone is unhappy we know we have done a good job.
What do you find rewarding about your work?
I find it most rewarding when we achieve really good outcomes whether the client recognises it or not.
It is rewarding when a client does recognise that they got a fantastic outcome and let us know how much they appreciate the work we do and the result they achieved.
It is rewarding to have happy staff who are productive at work and seem to want to be here.
It is rewarding to look back on your work and be able to appreciate that it is really good work and not substandard. That reinforces what we are here to do.
Are there any pieces of advice that you could give law students who are interested in family law?
Be conversant with the sections of the act that you will use most.
I would suggest, be aware of the changing principles in the law by constantly reading the cases.
Know the rules for any area of law as this is so very important and can mean the difference between a win and a loss.
If you are a person who may be troubled with emotions and varying degrees of animosity and acrimony don’t do family law. The area is highly charged with emotions and people problems and you must not be emotional about the matters.
Many lawyers do not practice family law because of the emotional facets of it.
Now that we have started the conversation, it’s time to keep it going!
If you have any feedback, requests or suggestions relating to who you want or next conversation with, please send them to email@example.com.
The Weekly LSA is proudly sponsored by Leo Cussen Centre for Law