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Why you need a passion outside of law

Navigating a successful legal career can often be all-consuming, leaving little room for personal pursuits outside of the courtroom. Here, Nina Stamell emphasises the significance of lawyers cultivating a passion outside of work, highlighting the substantial benefits it offers.

user iconGrace Robbie 02 July 2024 Corporate Counsel
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Speaking on a recent episode of The Corporate Counsel Show, Nina Stamell, the general counsel and company secretary for Myhealth, underscored the importance of lawyers engaging in meaningful and fulfilling pursuits outside the legal sphere. She also stressed the numerous benefits of this practice, pointing out that it not only contributes to personal wellbeing but also leads to improved work performance.

In that episode, Stamell also shared insights into her meaningful work supporting expecting mothers as a birth doula and how she balances this role with her legal responsibilities as a GC.

Stamell emphasised the significance of legal professionals allocating time out of their busy and demanding schedules for personal pursuits, noting that disregarding this aspect could result in heightened stress and missed prospects for individual development.


“It’s really important, and I think you often forget when you don’t actually take the time out to do something different in your day-to-day life as an in-house lawyer that it can be all-consuming, and it can have its moments of being very stressful,” she said.

She explained how lawyers face a challenge in embracing the idea of pursuing interests outside of work, as many find it difficult to strike a balance between their professional commitments and personal passions.

“You get into that habit of thinking, ‘I don’t have time to do other things’, which is definitely a challenge, especially when you’re juggling a full-time role and then family,” she said.

However, Stamell noted her deepening sense of satisfaction after pursuing such interests, illuminating how dedicating time to this passion has significantly enhanced her daily work in the legal field.

“I personally have found it very rewarding and enriching. It has given me a different energy, which has fed back into my day-to-day legal work.

“It’s also given me that renewed connection to doing something on the front line or something more tangible,” she said.

She highlighted how her involvement in meaningful and stimulating activities has re-established her connection with the value she brings to a project, addressing the occasional disconnection she experiences in her transactional role.

“Sometimes, certainly in transactional work, you can feel like you’re in a bit on the back end. You’re not involved in some of the more exciting work sometimes. You can forget what you are contributing to or what your role is actually delivering at the front end, and I’ve found that really helpful in reconnecting with that direct impact of the work I’m doing,” she said.

For lawyers who may be unsure about identifying and pursuing their passions within their demanding schedules, Stamell provides valuable guidance.

Stamell outlined that in-house counsel members should explore avenues that allow them to leverage their expertise beyond their routine tasks.

“I would encourage in-house counsel members to use their voice and their skills outside of their day-to-day work. Again, following their curiosity and remembering that their skills have a lot of value to offer to other people,” she said.

She also spoke of the unique perspectives and valuable skill sets that in-house counsel possess, encouraging them to acknowledge their capabilities and seek a passion that allows them to utilise these skills effectively.

“For in-house counsel, remember that you have a voice; you have a really valuable skill set that has a lot of real-world application outside of your day-to-day role. I think you can forget how different you can look at the same situation compared to somebody who doesn’t have that legal background,” she said.

When searching for a meaningful pursuit, Stamell also outlined how crucial it is to seek a pursuit that resonates with your innate curiosity and is closely tied to your passions.

“It’s fine to follow your curiosity, finding something that you’re passionate about and offering those skills to that,” she said.

Stamell expressed her excitement about merging her extensive legal knowledge with her passion for working as a birthing doula. She noted how this unique intersection has ignited her to make meaningful contributions to these distinct worlds.

“I am really excited to try and continue to merge the two worlds in some way. I have found that bringing the legal background and training into the birth door work has, for me, highlighted different areas that I’ve noticed. There are gaps in or different issues that I see need to be addressed, and I’d really like to continue working in that space,” she said.

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