Both Gemma Bunner & Kerri Shaw came from large national law firms, and after giving birth five days apart, they decided that whilst still practicing the law they love, they wanted more flexibility in regards to their families. Shaw & Bunner Legal was born, an all-female-led boutique law firm servicing regional NSW.
Tell us a little bit about your business Shaw & Bunner Legal.
We are a boutique personal injury and compensation law firm. We co-founded the firm 5 years ago, after leaving a large national firm to launch our own law practice. We specialise in all areas of personal injury law and assist injured clients to navigate the claims process, providing a holistic strategy to move forward following an injury. We have recently opened an office in Gunnedah, with an existing office in the Hunter Valley, and assist clients throughout the state.
How is Shaw & Bunner Legal unique?
We are a female-led, boutique law firm based in regional New South Wales.
We live and work in the regions, and our clients are predominantly living outside of the major cities. We have a solid understanding of the additional challenges being faced by our clients in rural and remote areas. Whether it be access to medical care, geographical isolation, or the availability of work.
As a boutique firm, we have niched into one area of law, as opposed to being a general practice. This enables us to fine-tune our systems to increase efficiency, continually up-skill our legal education and skills in that area, and be precise with our marketing messaging to prospective clients.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of owning your own business?
We gave birth to two of our babies, five days apart, and it was upon our return to work following maternity leave that we discussed starting our own firm. The most rewarding aspect of running our own practice is the degree of flexibility that is afforded to us as business owners, and the ability to work in and around raising our young families. We are still able to do the work that we love and are passionate about, whilst managing to volunteer at the school canteen.
What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?
We came from working in a large, national law firm, where we had dedicated departments to handle every aspect of running a business. In the beginning, it was just the two of us and we had limited financial resources. We had to wear all the hats, accounting, marketing, and answering the phones, which meant quickly learning a range of skills aside from being a lawyer.
What’s been the highlight of your career?
There have been many highlights, from having our first client walk through the door, seeing our firm’s name in the Court list, to hand delivering a million-dollar settlement cheque to a client, and to be met with an emotional embrace. The work that we do is rewarding, and to do it with our name on the door is extra special.
As business owners, it has been a highlight to build a great team. We are a small, tight-knit firm, and have cultivated a lovely, positive workplace culture.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing female leaders today?
The greatest challenge we see is family responsibilities, as they can limit a female's ability to pursue leadership positions. Whilst employers may implement strategies to tackle unconscious gender bias and promote flexible work practices, the most significant external factor that influences the ability of women to work, is childcare. We feel that improving the accessibility, affordability, and flexibility of childcare allows women to participate in work in the way that they want, and to reconcile professional and family obligations.
What’s the best piece of business advice that you have ever received?
Look to other businesses outside of your own industry for inspiration and ideas. There are amazing businesses of all different sizes doing incredible things, and it helps to connect with other business owners who do not offer the service or the product that you do. The legal profession is one steeped in tradition with many long-held ideas as to how a legal practice should be run. It has been fun to think outside of the box and look for new ways to be serving our clients.
And from a practical perspective, bed down your systems and processes. Get the basics right from the very beginning, which will ensure any future growth comes from a solid foundation.
What's one thing every woman should know about being successful in her career and life?
Focus on living your dream and not someone else’s. Be really clear on how you want to live your life, and what is most important to you, and try not to get caught up in comparing your journey to others, particularly in the age of social media. Recognise and learn from your mistakes and celebrate your wins, we are all learning something new every single day.
As for career, collaboration over competition. We have met some of the most incredible women on our business journey, both within the legal industry and outside.
What’s on the horizon for Shaw & Bunner Legal in 2023?
Having recently branched into the north-western region of NSW, we are looking forward to continuing to strengthen our ties with the local community, connecting with other business owners, and bringing our expertise to clients in those areas.
And having just celebrated 5 years of business, we are strategically planning for the next 5 years to ensure that our future growth is sustainable, intentional, and in line with our values for the firm.
Location: GUNNEDAH | NSW
Facebook: Shaw & Bunner Legal Photography: Shannon Wappet