Carla Giles leads an all female law firm, specialising exclusively in first class family-law. And everytime they settle a family law dispute without their clients being subjected to the emotional & financial burden of litigation, it gives Carla great pride.
Tell us a little bit about The Family Law Co. The Family Law Co. is a boutique family law practice offering first-class family law advice in a timely and cost-effective manner no matter how simple or complicated our client’s circumstances may be. Although we have physical offices in Newcastle, Maitland, and Narrabri, our cloud-based technology means we can deliver family law advice to our clients, regardless of whether they are located in Narrabri, Moree, Walgett, Tamworth, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Newcastle, Broken Hill or anywhere in between. What makes The Family Law Co. unique? Firstly, we are proudly an all-female team, disrupting the stereotypical image of a male-dominated law firm. Secondly, we are a boutique firm specialising exclusively in Family Law, that is all we do! Although many fantastic regional practices offer family law services, very few make Family Law their sole focus. This is our significant point of difference and allows us to deliver clever insights and deep skillsets that go above and beyond most general practices. By way of example, the practice of family law sits at the intersection between social sciences, law, and psychology. Most of our clients are looking to us for help at the most difficult times of their lives and are often experiencing a range of emotions including anger, sadness, grief, regret, stress, and anxiety & despair. Having a sole focus on family law means we are mindful of each client’s emotional journey and the impact this has on their decision-making, parenting, and ability to resolve conflict. Many people do not realise that exposure to parental conflict causes disrupted early brain development in children, leading to decreased social outcomes and mental health disorders later in life. As family lawyers, we are acutely aware of the importance of resolving family law disputes in the most efficient and least adversarial way and are constantly evaluating the impact that conflict and litigation can have on children and our clients’ future co-parenting relationships. Thirdly, The Family Law Co. was established using the most modern technology, allowing us to provide bespoke family law services to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Having previously worked in a small regional law firm for about 10 years, I know first-hand the difficulties that people living in regional areas can face when accessing legal services. Factors like geographic distance, internet reliability, and even basic literacy can hinder access to justice and legal services for those living remotely. This was at the forefront of my mind when establishing The Family Law Co., and remains a key focus in developing and growing our firm.
What advice would you give to new business owners? Know your end game. Once you figure that out, you can define how you see the business 1, 5, and 10 years from now. Having a crystal clear direction becomes your North Star and ensures you know you’re heading in the right direction. Having that vision also allows you to understand when you need to ask for help, for example knowing when to get a bookkeeper on board, hire an assistant, or outsource your lagging social media. This way, you’re not trying to be everything to everybody, and can focus your day on what you do best.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of owning your own business? Prior to establishing The Family Law Co., I really struggled to see a future career for myself in law as the work-life balance was non-existent. You’re expected to work for countless hours on end and I recall thinking that it would be impossible to raise a family whilst meeting those expectations. On a personal level, it has been extremely rewarding to see The Family Law Co. come to life and grow just as I had envisaged, as a genuinely female-friendly law firm with a positive workplace culture where I can provide myself and my team with a work-life balance, allowing us to manage the work/family juggle, whilst also continuing our careers within the law. In terms of the business itself; it has grown very organically in a relatively short space of time. We now have five solicitors and another graduate coming on board soon. I have spent a lot of time with the junior solicitors, training them to be the best family lawyers they can be, and seeing them develop into confident and competent lawyers has been extremely rewarding for me personally. Each time we settle a family law dispute without our clients being subjected to the emotional and financial burden of litigation. That is something that gives me great pride.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing female leaders today? The shift in gender roles seems to be really lopsided. The traditional idea remains that women are the homemakers and carers. However, the expectation now is that we should also fully participate in the workforce and financially contribute just as much as males. Somehow, we’re supposed to manage these two competing roles, without society allowing men’s roles to evolve to afford them the opportunity to share the caring/homemaker role. It is still really rare for men to be offered anything other than tokenistic paternity leave and even when it is offered greater significance seems to be placed on the negative impact that carer’s leave may have on their career rather than the positive contribution they can make to the home, their families, and their partner’s career. I think this is a real shame. Having spoken to many male colleagues and friends about this issue, I know that most new fathers would cherish the opportunity if it were offered and encouraged. This is proving to be a modern challenge for not only female leaders, but all leaders, and we can all play a role in changing this narrative.
Location: NARRABRI | NSW Website: familylawco.com.au