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The surf, music and kids: Some lawyers can do it all

The surf, music and kids: Some lawyers can do it all

Wotton + Kearney partner Catherine Osborne says that after years of practice, she has found the balance between a successful legal career and managing a strong commitment to her family, writes…

Wotton + Kearney partner Catherine Osborne says that after years of practice, she has found the balance between a successful legal career and managing a strong commitment to her family, writes Briana Everett.

Being recognised by Who's Who of Australian Women for four consecutive years, there's no doubt that insurance partner Catherine Osborne works extremely hard, but raising children alongside a demanding job proves you really can find time to do it all.

"It's a huge challenge because I have four children aged between two and 14. So it's a constant challenge but I just take one day at a time," she says.

"Having an office at home gives me a lot of flexibility...so I can do work either later at night or very early in the morning. For example, this morning I got up at 4:30am. It's fitting the work in at odd hours."

Thankfully, Osborne can appreciate the early starts because she enjoys what she does. "I think it's about the people," she says. "In a way I quite like the helping people aspect of the job...but I don't like the stress, the hours or all that other stuff. I can't tell you I love every aspect of my job!"

But Osborne says the work she does is "absolutely fascinating", particularly the professional negligence, insurance and reinsurance work. "I don't think I've ever been bored," she says.

Although Osborne does point to the stressful side of her job, she says having children has helped put things in perspective. "Once I had children I realised that there was no point getting too stressed about work. There are other things in life that are much more important," she says.

Meanwhile, Osborne still finds time to explore her love of music and surfing, which she enjoys with her family.

And prior to pursuing a legal career, Osborne was more interested in pursing her love of music. "I got the marks to do arts/law but I really wanted to do music," she explains. "I'd always loved music from an early age [and] I started writing music.

"After I finished the music degree I realised that because I had done a composition major, there were very limited opportunities for me to work, unless you're really brilliant, so I thought I'd better go finish the law degree and look for a job."

It wasn't until Osborne finished her law degree and worked with some barristers that she really started to enjoy it.

Osborne spent a number of years as the director of the Australian Music Centre but these days she keeps music purely for enjoyment and relaxation with her family. "One of the things I love doing now is playing with my kids because they all play different instruments and they have a little band going!"

Surfing is another passion of Osborne's which helps to keep her sane amid her hectic schedule. "I find the saltwater incredibly relaxing and I can't seem to get away from beach holidays."

Osborne says she has loved surfing ever since she enrolled in a "learn-to-surf" course with her husband following the birth of her daughter (now 14).

Reluctant to promote her achievements, Osborne does not pay too much attention to accolades like her recognition by Who's Who of Australian Women, but when asked what lessons she's learned over the years - the theme of the 2009 Who's Who of Australian Women - Osborne says "trust your own judgment" and "always treat people as you would want to be treated yourself".

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