Kelly Alcorn

Kelly Alcorn

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

No matter what our roles in life are, at the end of the day its all about people. Whether I’m helping my clients to navigate through a difficult issue, managing and mentoring staff, or growing little people at home – what I do every day can be summed up by how I interact with and impact on the people around me.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I was fortunate in that I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer very early on. I was a debater at school, and in that I developed a fascination with the law and its application. I also saw embarking on a legal career as something very challenging and exciting.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

  1. Acceptance
  2. Respect
  3. Innovation

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

The interesting thing about diversity is that once you achieve it within an organisation or a profession, it becomes self sustaining because its participants truly value and represent diversity.

So how do we as a profession reach that self sustaining position? There is plenty of research available now which shows that diversity brings with it innovation, better and more inclusive cultures and improved business outcomes. If the many positive attributes and outcomes of diversity were better understood by the profession, I believe that diversity would be embraced and ultimately achieved more quickly.

Kelly is a partner at Carter Newell.

Nola Pearce

Nola Pearce

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

I bring to legal problems my expertise in civil, administrative and professional disciplinary law – and the efficient and strategic management of litigation and legal problems – to advise and advocate for solicitors and clients who need my assistance.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

Well…I would never call it a legal industry, because I consider law to be a profession, and it is that long-standing and noble combination of intense intellectual challenge, high ethical standards, and a humble attitude of service that has called me from the age of 12 (and still does!).

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Different from yourself.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

A combination of time, determination and humility. Firstly time, because every single step forward in diversity challenges the traditional thinking of “status quo represents merit” and “this can only be done by someone like me”. Secondly determination, because we have before us now more than enough evidence to prove those thoughts false, so we as a profession should be determined to move to a better model at a faster pace. Thirdly humility, to recognise the possibility that someone different from ourselves could have something fantastic and valuable to offer.

Nola is a barrister at Level Twenty Seven Chambers.

Justine Rowe

Justine Rowe

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

I am a leader with a personal passion to inspire and develop diverse teams to make a difference to the business and each other.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I was curious about the legal industry and the court process from an early age and completed my Year 10 work experience at the Central Law Courts in Perth. I have always enjoyed engaging with people and helping to solve problems.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Difference and inclusion

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

Diverse representation throughout the industry. For some, we need to see a model of our diverse selves in our leaders to feel safe to share our thinking. For others, it is the environment that our colleagues create for us to be open. Ultimately I think we need to continue to challenge ourselves to develop an industry where everyone is open to, and embracing of, difference (in its many forms) – where we are respectful in our curiosity and challenge of others.

Justine is  Chief of Staff and Legal Services Executive of Telstra Corporation.

Natalia Blecher

Natalia Blecher

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

I assist clients to defend and enforce their brands and related intellectual property assets.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I’m embarrassed to say I had no real driver. My decision to study law was initially made for want of any other clear passion. However, in the process of studying law, I developed a bit of an affinity for it. I have always been a critical thinker and have always loved writing. I realised that I could deploy both skill sets to achieve very real outcomes for clients. That’s what I do now, and that’s one of the most satisfying parts of my job.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Empty corporate mantra.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

Diversity of people breeds diversity of thinking. You simply will not achieve diversity within the legal industry until there is a critical mass of individuals at the top levels of organisations who themselves demand, and therefore model, diverse thinking.

Natalia is a Lawyer at Gilbert + Tobin

Terri Mottershead

Terri Mottershead

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now (whether at home, work, in the community, etc.)?

I create opportunities for lawyers and allied professionals to come together to prepare for, understand, and share experiences about how legal practice is transforming and how that practically impacts them, their clients, firms/organisations and people every day.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Opportunity, creativity, joy.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry? 

Accepting, respecting and collaborating with each other as an interdisciplinary team in an interdisciplinary legal business.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

To help make the law accessible and relatable for my clients.

Terri is Executive Director at the Centre of Legal Innovation

Kathryn Pacey

Kathryn Pacey

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

I specialise in environment and planning law. I work on approvals strategies and environmental assessments for major infrastructure and resources projects, help clients manage environmental incidents and advise on a range of legislative and policy issues.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

Total ignorance. I had a vague notion that I wanted to combine environmental science with accountability, and studied science and law. Fortunately with the support of a number of mentors, project teams and clients, I found what I wanted to do.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Ideas, individuality, variety.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

As lawyers our job is to find solutions. The best solutions are developed through diversity in thinking, experience, relationships and perspective.

Clients demanding better and more innovative solutions will drive the need for truly diverse thinking.

Kathryn is a Partner at Clayton Utz.

Kate Clark

Kate Clark

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

I bring people in conflict together to have respectful, structured and restorative dialogue about disputes and the impacts / harms / needs that relate to them. 

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I have never been capable of being a bystander. If something is happening and I hold a concern that it is not right I will be that annoying person who stands up and causes a fuss. Becoming a lawyer allowed me to do that for a profession. 

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Heard, voices, views.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking 

within the legal industry?

A shift in culture. Intentional inclusion. Some people stepping back and giving others a turn.

Kate is Legal Director at Clark & Associates Mediation Services.

Maddy Harrington

Maddy Harrington

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

At work I spend my days not only drafting and reviewing legal agreements and contracts on behalf of the University, but am also a staunch advocate for LGBTI acceptance and inclusion (especially for those who are transgender such as myself).

I am the Chair of the University’s Pride Committee, and am passionate about ensuring that Griffith is a safe place to work and study for people of all backgrounds. I believe that one can’t be what they can’t see, and so I use my visibility as an openly transgender woman to show (both in my personal life and at work) that being in the law is not off limits to people of transgender experience, and that being transgender isn’t a life sentence as many make it out to be.

In the community, I’m a volunteer with Out for Australia, one of Australia’s largest organisations for LGBTI professionals.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I had always had a passion for politics, and I believed that to make the most effective change, politicians needed to have a deep understanding of law. When I started my degree back in New Zealand in 2013, I was doing a double degree of law and political science. After trying my hand at politics at University I decided that it wasn’t for me, and instead threw myself into my legal studies more.

To this day I’ve always viewed the law, and the wider legal industry, as having the ability to drive change, not only in political, but also social, circles and I ensure that as much as possible, that flows into my work.  

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Inclusion, acceptance and future.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

Traditionally, the legal industry has not been known for its diversity – however, I believe that this is slowly beginning to change, and that we can achieve diverse thinking through the adoption of some simple very processes.

Most importantly, I believe that diverse thinking will come as a natural consequence of ensuring that we consult widely and have people with characteristics and experiences (different from the “norm”) in positions of influence. This may be through having different factors to the majority in terms of gender, ethnicity or, different cultural backgrounds, ages, disability, or sexuality/gender identity. Importantly however, the legal industry must ensure that their hiring practices fully support people from all of these backgrounds and don’t treat them in tokenistic ways.

Maddy is a Solicitor at Griffith University (In-House Legal).

Kristen Podagiel

Kristen Podagiel

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

I oversee the operations of a large law firm – a role in which I am growing as a person and a leader every day – whilst juggling bringing up two bundles of (mostly) joy aged 2 and 5.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I loved problem solving and wanted to do something intellectually challenging that involved working with people – and I didn’t like the sight of blood (which ruled out medicine). The legal industry has met all of those criteria and more!

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Better decision making.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

We must get over our fear of failure or needing to know it all and actively seek out different points of view and ways of doing things – old ways won’t open new doors.