Shannon O'Hara

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

I am a connector, an educator (but I’m also always learning myself), a story teller, and an aviation safety champion. I am an advocate for diversity in the aviation industry and I passionately believe in inspiring and mentoring the next generation of “av-law geeks”. I am a mother of two beautiful children and I work collaboratively with a wonderful group of parents to connect and grow our lovely school community.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

Even as I child I used to tell people I was going to be a lawyer, I had seen lawyers on TV and loved the theatre and drama of the court room. As a teenager, like many, I was inspired by the nobility of the profession after reading To Kill a Mockingbird. My legal studies teacher at school (in a little country town) had been a “real lawyer”, and I loved engaging with her about the law; it was thought provoking, challenging, human, and open for questioning and analysis. The law covered so many diverse areas and opened so many doors in my mind, I couldn’t have imagined studying anything else or doing anything else with my career.

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

Opportunity, effort and commitment.

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

Diversity makes social and economic sense. It allows all people to follow their passions and find the opportunities to do so. Much work is being done in the legal community already to highlight the significant value of diversity and to inspire organisations, staff and leaders within the industry to promote diversity and inclusion. But more can be done to ensure we develop true diversity of thinking within the legal industry. I believe that the next generation of leaders coming through our industry should be empowered through education and mentoring to build a diverse and inclusive mindset, such that it becomes intrinsic to their make-up. By doing this, we can work to root out the overt and subconscious biases which are at the centre of inequality and discrimination and develop an inspired generation of legal industry participants who understand, very clearly, that diversity strengthens and progresses not only the legal industry, but our society as a whole.

Shannon is Legal Counsel – Aviation, at QBE Australia Pacific