TWA Legal co-founder: You can love your job when you do it on your terms

Over two years ago, Jennifer Tunna became her own boss, and it has been the most refreshing thing in her career

TWA Legal co-founder: You can love your job when you do it on your terms
Jennifer Tunna TWA

For Jennifer Tunna, it was a long road to discovering that she could love her job. The insolvency and restructuring specialist was not one who saw law as a lifelong passion, and it took time for her to realise that she needed to practise on her own terms.

The former Lowndes lawyer went on to establish boutique firm TWA Legal alongside team members Mike Whale and Michael Anderson in July 2020, and becoming her own boss has been “the most refreshing and liberating thing I’ve done in my career,” Tunna says.

In this interview, Tunna discusses the handling of stress in the legal profession, the power shift from firms to legal talent in recruitment, and having a very different perspective as a business owner.

What made you choose a career in law, and what's your favourite part of the job?

I’m not someone who had clarity at a young age that I wanted to be a lawyer. I had enough of an inkling to enrol at law school and I was lucky to find that I enjoyed the way of thinking. I was also lucky to meet a couple of lifelong friends who gave me my first taste of professional comradery.

My favourite part of the job is the challenge in applying both IQ and EQ to find a solution which balances the commercial reality and the needs of the people involved.

What is going on at the firm? Are there any new programs and initiatives that you’re particularly interested in?

I’m a director at TWA Legal, a small boutique firm which I started rather unexpectedly with Mike Anderson and Mike Whale when our previous firm ceased to be. Now that we’re in our third year of business, I’m enjoying navigating TWA’s future. This year has been about expanding our team, which has been exciting. We’ve added Kerry Puddle and Grace Im to our practice, and we’re very lucky to have them.

What has been your proudest accomplishment in the last year or so?

Backing myself to become my own boss, on my own terms. It has been the most refreshing and liberating thing I’ve done in my career.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the past couple of years and what advice can you give fellow lawyers about it?

So many!

  • That if you don’t love practising law, you may just need to change the way you do it rather than abandoning it altogether. It took me a really long time to discover that I could love my job, but that I needed to do it on my terms.
  • That it is definitely possible to have whatever work/life balance you want to have as an individual and to run your business in a way that allows others to do so too. One of our team members works between 5 and 15 hours a week depending on what suits her, and that has been totally fine.
  • That work will be referred to you from unexpected sources and that you have more support to draw on (often from wonderful former colleagues) than you imagined.
  • That you see things very differently once you own a business – lots of wise words come back to haunt you!

What are the challenges you expect in your practice, and in the business of law in general, going forward?

Attracting and retaining talent. The days where law firms can dictate the terms of employment to their staff appear to be well and truly over. But it needs to work for everyone. The challenge will be matching the needs of the firm, the needs of clients and the needs of the talent we hope to recruit.

What challenges are particularly pressing in the country’s legal industry?

I think we have a long way to go before we can say we have adequately addressed stress. And I think that issue will only become exacerbated with our younger members heading off to enjoy their OE’s (and rightfully so).

What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?

Summer! And time spent camping and travelling with my family.

If you were given an opportunity to spend a day with anyone (living or dead), who would it be and why?

My late dad, so I could introduce him to his granddaughters and let him know there’s a law firm in the CBD with his initial in its name.

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