For young attorney, law is a family affair

Growing up with lawyers for parents, Claire Martin caught the legal bug early

For young attorney, law is a family affair
Growing up with a mum who's a veteran in the legal field, Claire Martin caught the legal bug early.

Brief overview of your experience and background: 
I have worked in the legal industry since 2000 and started out with the wonderful experience of attending the OSR city office conducting settlements on the last business day before GST came in. It was absolute chaos!

After six years working at Hazlett & Co as a Law Clerk, I went on maternity leave. Being a young mum, I went on to work a variety of support staff roles in suburban law firms while studying through LPAB and raising my daughter. I took nine (9) months off work to do my final law subject and College of Law full time.

I remain at Kreisson where I completed my PLT days. I was admitted in 2014 and recently was awarded my LLM Applied Law (Property Law) in 2016. I have been involved in Supreme Court Real Property cases, Family Law Court matters, NCAT disputes and enjoy the day to day transactional work that I see as my balance in life to the stress of any litigation.

What attracted you to Law?
My mum had worked in law firms since I was very young. So I guess I sort of grew up in law. From stamping the backs of envelopes after school to typing up file stickers. There was always something to keep me busy.

My first full time job was at Hazlett’s doing settlements and court filing. That experience of learning the practical side of how things are done is invaluable. When I was working in a suburban family Law firm, my boss encouraged me to study as there was no room for progression without qualifications. So I worked full time and studied by correspondence.

I have always been encouraged by employers in the legal profession who had managed to balance work and family life. I think being employed to solve other people’s problems is a great privilege and keeping up to date with the latest technology means we can provide better outcomes and collaborate with our clients to help them achieve their dreams.

What legal profession figures do you look up to?
I think Kylie Nom Chong SC and Justice Julie Ward have given me the most inspiration to keep aiming higher. Being able to manage raising children and excelling in their careers at the same time, they set high standards for the rest of us who want it all!

I also love reading judgements from Acting Justice Young. He deals with matters in a very succinct manner and exudes common sense. His ability to focus on the legal issues before him and apply the law is tremendous. I think he is a great listener who absorbs all the relevant information and filters out the egos.

What do you want to achieve in your career and what has been your biggest achievement to date?
I would like to be a Judge. I love listening to both sides of the story with an open mind. Ideally it would be running the Real Property List at NSW Supreme Court, which only started in 2015. My first Supreme Court case I ran was in the Real Property List involving an Old System omitted Prescriptive Easement.

My biggest achievement to date would have to be conducting the first entirely paperless, digital conveyance of Real Property in Australia. It formed part of my research into the Impact of Technology on Conveyancing for my LLM.

Do you think Firms are addressing millennial lawyer’s needs?
I think it is up to the millennial lawyers to figure out how they work most effectively and convince their boss to think outside the box. Being tech savvy and having the ability to work remotely is a great advantage of living in today’s society. But we need to respect the shift in mindset that needs to occur to maximise flexibility in hours and locations of the work being done.

I have been blessed with amazing bosses at Kreisson who encourage me to pursue my dreams and accommodate my busy life. This is accomplished by me voicing my thoughts and collaborating with my employers to see how we can make it work for both of us. Recently I toured New South Wales over a period of ten (10) weeks and managed to successfully work remotely at hours that suited my other commitments and internet availability in over fifteen (15) locations.

What are your hopes and aspirations in terms of working environments for the future?
I would love to see all Real Property aspects of the law be streamlined to a purely electronic environment. This would allow Lawyers to work while travelling and at times that suit their other commitments such as family or extra-curricular activities.

I like the idea of working hours where I am at my most productive or creative. I have seen a glimpse of the future in Sydney at Dexus Place, where there is a virtual reality board room where participant can be video conferenced into a digital board table. The surround sound and real time video broadcasting makes the participants feel like they are in the same room. There are also facilities available for people who only need office space temporarily allowing the users to work from home and hire the right amount of space for their meetings with clients in town.

What makes your role interesting and different?
I work in a firm that deals mainly in the Property and Construction space. With the Building & Construction industry booming, I get to see clients buying sites in hot spots and then building developments and work on the off the plan sales. The whole project package.

We are also championing eConveyancing and have the ability to draft hundreds of Contracts for Sale in minutes, not weeks. The technology available is getting better at a faster rate than the laws and ethics of the users. With the gap rapidly widening, it will be a challenge to keep up with the latest advancements.

Your biggest faux-pas in your career?
I don’t think I have made one yet. Fingers crossed I only make correctable errors. Although I often assume people know what I am talking about and sometimes I am asked to explain things that I take as common sense. Maybe I need work on my plain English skills and avoid getting caught up in technical jargon.

Weirdest professional encounter?
Prior to my current firm, several years ago, we had to lock our staff in the office when a family law client’s ex-husband tried to pay a six figure sum in cash instead of a bank cheque. He went nuts and we had to call the police. He ran away pretty quickly once he saw the police car approaching and ended up sending someone else down to the office later that day with a bank cheque. He kept clear of me after that day. Our kids were in the same class at school, which made his life rather awkward.

Interests outside of work?
Rugby Union and live music. I am looking forward to watching the Manly Marlins, Waratahs and Wallabies in 2017. I love festivals or any outdoor events where there is a huge crowd enjoying great talent. One day I hope to go to Coachella.

My daughter does Hip Hop dancing, which is pretty entertaining. She also plays flute, violin and sings in the choir. So my weekends are spent being her fulltime chauffeur.

I am fascinated by Neuroplasticity and the brain. I think there is a future for using “re-wiring” methods as rehabilitation. My favourite questions are, and hopefully always will be, “Why? and How?” I love learning about what motivates people to do things and think in a certain way. I also like to know how things are done, especially when they are very different to how I would do them.


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