“It's all still possible.” Law Awards Finalist Shares Her Unconventional Career Journey.

04 August 2022 Promoted by mattero

Adele Anthony founded Your Legacy Lawyer in late 2020 with a view to providing quality, accessible and cost-effective legacy planning. Adele sat down with mattero recently to talk about her career journey.

 

Thank you for taking the time to speak with mattero this morning, Adele. Could you  start by telling us about your career path? You've had a varied journey, but law  has obviously been a passion for you. 

I was a law clerk back in the 1980s, and I spent a lot of time drafting Wills. I had young children at the time, so becoming a lawyer wasn't an option at that stage.  

I opened a ladies-only gym in Toowoomba, and another food franchise in Tweed City Shopping Centre and I spent 10 years running these businesses.  

I wanted to go to uni and become a lawyer, so I did my law degree and a business degree majoring in marketing at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. The year I graduated was a turning point. I graduated, I turned 50 and I also ended an 18-year relationship. 

I was working as an associate lawyer for a local firm when COVID struck and many were working from home. While I was home, I took an opportunity: it was the very first year that the College of Law did their practice management certificate course entirely online. 

I began setting up Your Legacy Lawyer in September 2020 and started seeing clients in December 2020. At end of this year, it will be two years since we opened. It was a risk. You start from one client  and then slowly build it up, but it's been well worth it. We’re looking forward to our second birthday in December, and many more years ahead!

You were recently announced as a finalist in the Australian Law Awards for the sole practitioner and regional law firm of the year categories. What has that been like, particularly as such a new firm? 

I'm up against absolutely amazing competition, it's going to be really hard given that I'm so new. The  other finalists are wonderful practitioners who have been doing it for many years, so just being nominated for me is wonderful. It gives me recognition and the confidence that I am doing a good job,  it means a lot to be nominated amongst these fantastic legal practitioners. To be nominated by your  peers is amazing.

The best thing about recognition is that other women can see that you can get out and do it. It doesn't matter if they start at the beginning of their career, or the end, it's all still possible. 

Your practice focuses on women's wills and estate planning. Is it especially important for women to have their estate in order? Is there anything about this  area of law that you really enjoy? 

I enjoy that there's not so many deadlines, and I'm generally not having to work with another solicitor  on the other side, I don't do any estate litigation. I am just wanting to give my clients the very best  service.  

Women are often the decision makers in the household, whereas men are often reluctant to get their  Wills done.  

A lot of women, when they've separated, don't realise they need to update any Will they've got or  make a new one, especially in that 12-month period from separation to divorce. Legally they’re still  married, so it's really important to protect their assets and make sure that they go to the right people  if something does happen, whether that's death or incapacity. 

That’s why my education is targeted towards women.  

You started Your Legacy Lawyer during COVID-19. Did that affect your  business planning and the way you worked? 

Most of us were working remotely and seeing clients over the phone, or on zoom, teams or Skype, and I’ve continued that. I'd say 95% of my clients are seen over zoom or the telephone, and that suits my clients. I can see them after hours, I can see them on the weekends, I'm not nine to five, Monday  to Friday, so it works for my clients and that seems to work for my business. I’m able to keep the cost  down because I don't have to rent an office space, I work from home. 

What factors would you credit to the success of your firm so far?  

One is my process – my clients all know what every step of my process is going to be. There are no surprises. My services are fixed fee, so there’s no surprises there, either. I just deliver the best customer service possible.  

Are you mostly digital, rather than paper-based? 

I'm completely paperless. The only paper I have here is clients' original documents in safe custody. With mattero everything is on the cloud – it works for me. 

I've worked in practices where there's paper everywhere! A paper printed out as a draft, and then there's a second draft and a third draft. I don’t have any of that! 

What made you choose mattero as your legal software? Were there any  features that were important to you?  

I needed a document management system so I could work with people remotely. That’s why I chose mattero, and it had the ability to upload my own precedents. It also does the trust accounting. I tried mattero out and it was a no brainer in terms of affordability and efficiency. I have not missed the systems I’ve worked with before. mattero is very user friendly, and quite easy to learn.  When you're a sole practitioner you don't want to be spending too much, it’s important that I’m not locked in for two or three years, and we own the data.  

You mentioned your fixed pricing. Can you speak to how you manage your  costs?  

Low overheads are important. Then I just worked out the costing backwards, based on my hourly rate. Now I know how long it normally takes me to do a simple Will, as opposed to a testamentary  trust Will, or a matter that's got lots of different legal entities. I've got those fixed prices worked out quite well to make sure that I get the profit margin that I need. 

Are you involved in any related activities outside of your firm that you wanted  to speak about?  

I do a little bit of pro bono work for women that are separating and having difficulties and need estate planning. I do that on an ad hoc basis – someone's got to help them.  

I wish I had that help, because I had two long term marriages, and coming out of that, it’s a tricky time for women. Just having someone to talk to who’s been through it is a little bit different. I've got  that empathy that they can see is genuine.  

Do you have any words of advice for lawyers who are thinking about setting up  their own firm in this “post” COVID world? Is there anything you'd recommend  to them? 

I think you can do it if you put your mind to it.  

Do your research first. I did a business plan and so far, things have gone better than my business plan. So be informed, but definitely go for it. 

It's so rewarding. You've got nothing to lose – what's the worst that can happen? If it doesn't work out, you can go and get a job, and there's plenty of jobs at the moment for lawyers, especially good  lawyers.  

I get to work around my family's lifestyle, I've got six grandkids and I'm doing Nanna duty for three weeks. I go to my daughter's, pick them up, I take them to kindy and school, and then get back to work. In a traditional law firm, I wouldn’t be able to do that. If flexibility is more important to you than  money, definitely do it. 

 

 

“It's all still possible.” Law Awards Finalist Shares Her Unconventional Career Journey.
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