The wills and estate planning specialist wants her clients to leave behind a "beautiful legacy"
Melisa Sloan boasts more than a decade of experience in complex estate planning, helping clients protect their hard-earned wealth and assets at a time when they no longer possess the ability to do so. And according to her, the best part of the job is having the “opportunity to change the world for someone every day.”
This chance to make a difference in people’s lives is also what drove her to write a book that teaches individuals and businesses how to put in place an effective estate and succession plan to make sure that their wealth is transferred to their families and loved ones at the time of their death, and that they leave a “beautiful legacy.”
In this interview, the Madison Sloan Lawyers principal solicitor talks about the inspirations for her first book, the lessons legal professionals should can take away from the COVID-19 pandemic, and what the industry should focus on to bring out the best in lawyers.
What made you choose a career in law, and what's your favourite part of the job?
Being a lawyer provides you with the opportunity to change the world for someone every day and that was appealing for me. The ability to make a difference to people’s lives on a daily basis was something that enticed me to choose a career in law.
I love that my job allows me to assist clients in overcoming obstacles to put in place their important wishes and to ensure everything is documented correctly. My job also allows me to be there for them when someone has recently lost a loved one, has no idea of what is ahead for them, and needs reassurance that all will be okay.
What is going on at the firm? Are there any new programs and initiatives that you’re particularly interested in?
I have recently published my first book, Legacy: Taking care of the most important people in your life when you are no longer here. It has long concerned me that almost 50% percent of Australians die without a will and often the reason they don’t put a will in place is because they don’t know where to start. I have a burning desire to change that 50% statistic and hope my book will go a long way in providing people with guidance and confidence to put their will and estate plan in place and leave a beautiful legacy.
Additionally, we have also created some excellent products and resources within our firm to assist clients when putting their estate plan in place.
What has been your proudest accomplishment in the last year or so?
Publishing my book has definitely been my proudest accomplishment and a wonderful personal development journey. It has also allowed me to think about how we deliver our client services and how we could improve on the client experience. As lawyers, we harvest so much knowledge and we need to impart that knowledge in the best way we can to those who require our expertise.
What should the profession and law firms focus more on?
Work-life balance and mental health have been on the agenda for some time now, and in some instances, we are still not hitting the mark. Law is an intense and stressful career, and I think COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for many in the profession to really evaluate what is really important to them.
We need to take this on board, provide a positive work culture, consider our team’s work-life balance and mental health, and work with them to enable them to not just become the best team members possible but also allow them to meet their own personal benchmarks with what is important to them outside of law, whether that be family, travel, sporting pursuits, or hobbies.
What are the challenges you expect in your practice, and in the business of law in general, going forward?
COVID-19 has shown how our world can change overnight. We need to constantly remain resistant and adaptable and focus on how to best meet our clients’ needs in this changing world.
It is paramount that access to legal services remains available to all sectors of the community. We continue to face challenges with clients who are not astute with technology and consequently are unable to sign documents electronically during COVID-19 lockdowns and need to be adaptable to matters such as these.
What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?
After numerous cancelled holidays over the last 18 months, finally going on a much longed for holiday will be an absolute delight.
I would also love to write another book as I really enjoyed the experience writing Legacy. I have already started formulating ideas for another book, so let’s see what transpires in the next year.