Joanne El-Hadi urges lawyers to always take notes and listen when people talk
Joanne El-Hadi loves solving problems as a lawyer. Nonetheless, this New South Lawyers associate has since learned that there’s nothing wrong with not having the answer. Lawyers, she believes, must be constantly learning.
For El-Hadi, it’s also vital for lawyers to invest in themselves, and she is an advocate for a focus on wellbeing and work-life balance as areas the legal profession must focus on today.
In this interview, El-Hadi talks her mom as the epitome of everything she wants to be, her thoughts on Microsoft Teams, and what she considers to be industry issues.
What made you choose a career in law, and what's your favourite part of the job?
Ever since I could remember I wanted to be a lawyer. I think it was because I enjoyed talking so much (and arguing) and naturally wanted a career where I could do that.
My favourite part of the job is being able to solve problems. I enjoy strategising and discussing with my colleagues different scenarios in order to achieve the best outcome.
What is going on at the organisation? Are there any new programs and initiatives that you’re particularly interested in?
We are looking at expanding and introducing new divisions into the firm in 2023 and expanding the property and commercial division.
What tech-related initiatives adopted by the organisation, if any, are you most excited about?
Adopting Microsoft Teams during the pandemic made working from home a possibility and introduced a flexible work environment. It is exciting to see a shift from an office-based job to a hybrid work environment.
What has been your proudest accomplishment in the last year or so? Or what’s the biggest lesson you learned in the past year and what advice can you give fellow lawyers about it?
My proudest accomplishment in the last year was being promoted to an associate.
Lesson learned – you need to invest in yourself, set goals and work towards them. Advice – listen when people talk, and always bring a pen and paper and take notes. You should be constantly learning and there is nothing wrong with not knowing the answer. The greatest tool you can have as a lawyer is your eagerness to find the answer.
What should the profession focus more on?
The profession should focus on an individual's wellbeing. There should be more initiatives put in place to support lawyers and encourage a realistic work-life balance.
What are the challenges you expect in your practice, and in the business of law in general, going forward? What challenges are particularly pressing in the country’s legal industry?
Managing workload and meeting client’s expectations. With the advancement in technology, clients want you readily available at all times and are not forgiving for any delay. Their mindset is “right here, right now”.
I think the billable hour target and lack of work-life balance to some lawyers are also industry issues.
What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?
Developing and broadening my skills in the commercial area.
If you were given an opportunity to spend a day with anyone (living or dead), who would it be and why?
I think I am supposed to elect a famous judge, legal philosopher, or even my boss (for those extra brownie points), however, my honest answer would be my mum. She is my greatest inspiration and epitomises everything I would like to be.