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The role of lawyers in ‘defending the rule of law and how democracy works’

Whilst working in government law can be fairly intense, it can also be extremely rewarding to help enact change, said this partner.

user iconLauren Croft 18 July 2022 Big Law
Kiera Peacock
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Kiera Peacock is a partner at Marque Lawyers — and was heavily involved in legal work pertaining to the recent federal election. Speaking recently on The Lawyers Weekly Show, Ms Peacock reflected on the issues and challenges inherent with doing such legal work — and the kind of mental preparation that lawyers working in government need to have in the lead-up to elections.

In the months leading up to the election, Ms Peacock found herself operating at a “fairly consistent high level of anxiety”, dealing with the myriad of issues and challenges that arise during election season.

“I think I definitely have some lessons for next time, and probably picking up meditation would be one of them. But I made a real conscious effort to keep up exercising, just knowing that even if I didn’t feel like it, that the longer-term benefit of that on my mental health was positive. I think it’s also one of those things where in that intense period, you know that it will end. So, it makes it a little bit easier to get through,” she explained.

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“And when you are working with a whole bunch of people who are also going through a similar level of anxiety, but anxiety combined with passion and adrenaline, that it does help you get through. Although I think then going from that busy period to then the couple of weeks after the election, when certainly a number of our clients and the causes we were supporting had achieved quite some measure of success, which was amazing. And then felt a little bit like, okay, now what? And how do we then take a step back and just try and decompress from that level of intensity?”

In terms of decompressing after such a busy period, Ms Peacock said she found tremendous value in reflection.

“It was quite a unique period, both for myself and, without overstating it, for the country in what happened on election day. And by that, I don’t just mean what happened with my clients, but just the swings that occurred across the country and the real re-engagement of voters with their choice and who represents them in Parliament was, I think, an incredible turning point for the country,” she added.

“But reflecting on that a bit helps with the decompression and then a process of thinking what went well, what could have been done better? And then connecting with the various people that I met along the way, who are often fairly incredible people.”

Whilst this kind of legal work was particularly important for the nation, Ms Peacock said that it was “very much consistent” with Marque Lawyers, who believe “law should be used as the force for good”.

“That manifests in all different ways. It doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to do everything pro bono. And it doesn’t mean that everything must achieve some kind of life-changing outcome, but it just means that in our everyday practice of the law, we all face decisions, or we all face two paths in the woods and we can take one that may result in using the law for good. And we can impart so much knowledge to our clients which enables them to do what they do in a way which can have a beneficial impact on the world,” she explained.

“In the context of elections, I think we’ve seen this building narrative around the world, which is very lethal to our institutions and democratic institutions, our rule of law and the like, where people are using mistruths and lies to push an agenda and which is corrosive. And so, as lawyers, we all have a part to play; in effect defending the rule of law and how democracy works. And that was something that I believed in, which I carried through with me and part of the way we can do that is by helping people understand the way that the system is set up and the way that it can protect itself against these corrosive forces.”

And despite learning that many people don’t actually understand preferential voting, Ms Peacock said that being able to work collaboratively on a common goal was an amazing learning experience.

“It was just an amazing time to see how quickly people can come together to achieve an [objective]. It was just this real collaborative effort, which was amazing,” she concluded.  

“I think it’s really amazing what people can achieve when they come together in that way.”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Kiera Peacock, click below:

 

Lauren Croft

Lauren Croft

Lauren is a journalist at Lawyers Weekly and graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from Macleay College. Prior to joining Lawyers Weekly, she worked as a trade journalist for media and travel industry publications and Travel Weekly. Originally born in England, Lauren enjoys trying new bars and restaurants, attending music festivals and travelling. She is also a keen snowboarder and pre-pandemic, spent a season living in a French ski resort.

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