KAREN OLSSON, the first and only female partner of Adelaide firm Mellor Olsson has just celebrated 25 years of being in the legal profession.
A debt recovery specialist, Olsson says she is still passionate about her job and is keen to carry on the legacy of her father and grandfather before her — both also lawyers. It’s a hard act to follow, with her father Graham Olsson having worked for the firm and its predecessors for 53 years and her grandfather having worked for 58 years with the partnerships that eventually formed the firm.
Having begun her career articling for her father in 1983, she was appointed partner in 1995, then being the single mother of a two-year-old daughter.
Olsson is open about the fact that balancing these two roles wasn’t easy. “My daughter was born eight weeks premature and that was a very emotionally traumatic time for me,” she said. “Looking back, I am amazed that I was not only able to maintain, but increase my client base during the very difficult early years of my daughter’s life. These efforts results in the offer of partnership at Mellor Olsson; one I readily accepted.”
She has witnesses many changes in the profession in her 25 years’ experience, one significant one for her being the loss of respect for the profession in the community.
“I consider it unfair that the reputation of the whole profession should be tarnished due to the actions of a few and the misguided rhetoric of people in positions of influence,” she said.
“My hope is that the image of legal practitioners in the future will reflect what the majority are — hard-working, conscientious and fair-minded people who have their client’s best interests at heart.”