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The importance of a group that ‘offers lawyer mothers practical and emotional support’

Working parents in the legal industry have found increased support and community in CLM, a group for lawyer mums created by a boutique firm founder and director.

user iconLauren Croft 01 September 2022 SME Law
The importance of a group that ‘offers lawyer mothers practical and emotional support’
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Founder and principal director of Gallant Law Lauren Cassimatis is the chair and creator of Connecting Lawyer Mums (CLM), and Perpetua Kish is a vice-chair. According to the pair, the organisation’s purpose is to “acknowledge, promote, support, and inspire mothers in the legal profession. Supporting each other to forge new pathways, exploring and finding comfort in the challenges experienced by lawyer mums, and to drive change and build community”.

In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, Ms Cassimatis and Ms Kish reflected on CLM’s journey so far and what they both hope to achieve with the community.

Ms Cassimatis started CLM in 2018 — and originally dubbed the group Criminal Law Mums.


“Sometimes you can doubt your skills as a mother and as a lawyer, so it’s important to be able to share your experiences with others in the same situation, and to support and empower each other. There are stressors unique to working in a profession that often involves traumatic and challenging matters. It can affect you emotionally. Furthermore, the desire (and right) to start a family, and therefore the need to take maternity leave and/or work part-time to raise your children has often proven to isolate or disconnect women from their profession and career advancement opportunities,” she said.

“So, in 2018, drawing upon my own and my colleagues’ experiences as professionals and parents, I started Criminal Law Mums for mums working in criminal law, to be able to come together, to share their experiences, access further personal and professional support, and career development opportunities and to realise, no, they are not alone. This naturally evolved to Connecting Lawyer Mums as I identified the demand for this support and interest in our group, throughout our profession.

“During COVID-19, I decided it was time to expand and invite mums who work in all areas of law, including commercial and family law, from the public and private sectors, in-house and the bar. Diversity in law is also an important focus of CLM. Lawyer parents need to see themselves represented in the profession, so we are evolving to provide inclusive professional development and support to members from different cultural backgrounds and the LGBTQI community, designed to boost wellbeing, networks and professional and business skills.”

CLM has hosted numerous online events hosted by justices, judges, lawyers and legal leaders — and is set to host its inaugural in-person event: Success and Happiness: In Life, Careers and Business, in Melbourne this October.

“CLM also differs from other groups in that as much as there is a serious focus on skills development and support, a huge part of well-being for lawyer mums is building a welcoming and energised community, creating opportunities for fun and enjoyment,” Ms Kish said.

This type of group and support is particularly important for parents post-pandemic, who need “community and unity more than ever to navigate the changing environment”, according to Ms Kish.

Parenthood is one of the most transformational periods of our lives. It prompts us to reflect on our identity, review our goals and reset our expectations. We may be compelled to redefine our relationship with our careers. 

“This transformation can also manifest in other ways, inspiring parents to explore other areas of law, launch a new business, or other options that allow them to restructure their work responsibilities around family priorities, and not the other way around. With these changes come new opportunities and challenges, some unexpected, and so receiving support, guidance and encouragement from others who are going through the same, or have been there, is incredibly valuable,” she said.

“Our working weeks were designed decades and decades ago, and contemplated one parent working, and the other, staying home to look after the household and children. Today, there are more and more single-parent households or households where both parents work, often full-time, making that ‘workable balance’, even more elusive. We have found ourselves having to redefine ‘balance’ and find creative and sustainable ways to manage the juggle.”

And the group has not only had benefits to its members but also to its leaders, added Ms Cassimatis.

I created Connecting Lawyer Mums in response to my own experiences as a criminal lawyer and mum. As I began to pursue this passion, I heard my story echoed in the experiences of other parents. Mothers who were trying to juggle parenting and life as a lawyer. Women whose careers were being interrupted because they exercised their right to start a family, take maternity leave, or pursue flexible or part-time work. It is so important to create a group that offers lawyer mothers practical and emotional support to preserve and bolster their careers and overall happiness,” she said.

“Members have gained advice and insights that have helped them to feel better about themselves, as an individual, a parent and a professional. Through our group, our members have formed friendships with inspirational, like-minded women who can relate to the juggle and the challenges of creating a harmonious work/life balance! At CLM we have seen that by enhancing our professional networks we can increase our chances of career elevation and longer-term happiness.”