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‘We do not view emotion as weakness’

Following a near-death experience a few years ago, Adelle Jones decided that her experiences would not define her. Haven Legal Co., based in Melbourne, puts safety and calm at the forefront of its operations.

user iconJess Feyder and Jerome Doraisamy 13 July 2023 SME Law
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Editor’s note: This story may be distressing for some readers. Discretion is advised.

In 2018, Adelle Jones had a near-death experience after the birth of her first and only child, Lincoln: she suffered a perforated bowel and almost succumbed to septicaemia.

“I had an ostomy bag for eight months after the birth of my son, had to teach my body to walk again and suffered debilitating pain for a long time. The PTSD that resulted from this was overwhelming for a time, and the weight too much to bear,” she recounted.


“One day, I decided that I simply could not let this traumatic experience define me. That I had to find a way to claw back out of the darkness and find a way to survive. A way forward that would give me strength and make me feel safe and whole again.”

“This is when Haven Legal Co. was born.”

Ms Jones explained, in conversation with Lawyers Weekly, that the Melbourne-based firm – which practises in estate planning and deceased estates – was designed with a defining idea in mind: safety and calm, both for staff and clients.

“Our approach doesn’t appeal to everyone, and that’s OK. We don’t want to be everyone’s cup of tea! I knew that it would work because the world is full of people, and people come with a story. We approach our clients as ‘people’ first,” she mused.

“We all come with a story, with heartache. With something to tell. Something we want to talk about and share with other people. It is part of being human. To want to make that connection.”

“I am an empath which can be both a great thing and a very difficult thing to bear in a business environment. As I walk into a room, I am able to instinctively pick up on the energy of the room. My ability to connect is an integral part to building trust and respect with my clients. And this is why it works.”

Ms Jones has never, she reflected, been interested in what she called fitting into a politically correct box.

“I don’t have a problem with standing out in a crowd, as long as it’s for the right reasons. Standing up for the underdog, supporting someone who needs me. I am not easily brought down. Sceptics and non-supporters have always had quite the opposite effect on me,” she said.

“They don’t drag me down or cause me to self-doubt. They make me try harder to succeed. I almost want to stand out more, to make sure they are watching when I prove them wrong. My self-confidence saw me define my self-philosophy in my early 30’s – ‘There is no room for failure. Find a way’.”

In response, Ms Jones explained, clients are drawn to such an approach.

“Unlike many other ‘traditional’ legal firms, we do not view emotion as weakness. Emotional strength is the ability to respond in an open and vulnerable way when faced with an intense emotional experience. What many lawyers don’t realise is that the person that just walked in the door doesn’t just ‘want to do a will’ or ‘sell their home’,” she submitted.

“There are strong underlying emotions connected with that ‘service’ you are about to offer; with the conversation you are about to have. Don’t close up! Have a conversation, don’t just ‘take instructions’ like you were taught to in law school. Law school fails to teach how to interact with clients in a way that allows them to feel comfortable, open and develop a connection. Connections create success.”

“Our success is attributed to being clear on our approach, competent in our ability and consistently compassionate with all our clients.”

This rejection of the cookie-cutter approach, Ms Jones said, “absolutely” leads to happier clients.

“We impress upon our staff the importance of having the ability to communicate with our clients on another level. To ensure clients feel understood and heard and understand what they need and want before they even know they need it,” she said.