New law firm argues case for diversity
LISMORE could have one of the the most diverse law firm partnerships in the country since the recent opening of Everyday Legal.
The firm is co-partnered by gay single mother Amanda Mead, 38, and Aboriginal woman (and former wool classer) Michelle Kelly, 57.
The duo believe their backgrounds broaden their law firm’s views and learned experiences and allow them to better connect with a mix of people, particularly gay or indigenous clients.
“Our client base is quite diverse,” Ms Kelly said.
“Aboriginal people feel more comfortable with me and the gay and lesbian community often feel more comfortable with Amanda.
“We’re so mindful of the wide range of problems which can face those different sectors of the community.
“In that regard, I think we’re very forward thinking.”
Ms Kelly has practised law for nine years and worked as a criminal intelligence analyst and “before that, a farmer’s wife”.
Ms Mead, “the newbie”, has a five-year background in crime forum facilitation, volunteering in community legal roles.
The women, who hold various tertiary law qualifications, both worked in community legal centres before opening their new venture.
They established Everyday Legal primarily to provide widespread access to affordable legal advice and representation.
Since opening, they’ve had more than 40 clients walk through the doors.
“We’re a community- focused firm. Our goal is to educate the community,” Ms Mead said.
“We have lunchtime appointments. We also go to the Lismore Car Boot Market.
“We want to be approachable and friendly – change the way people perceive lawyers.
“Working in community legal centres, we found there’s people who basically can’t get Legal Aid, for instance, and yet the only other option is a tonne of money for legal advice.
“I don’t know any other law firms anywhere which operate like us.”
Ms Kelly and Ms Mead hope their work will inspire a diverse range of younger Australians to pursue law.
“We’re only too keen to take on undergraduates if they want to do placements, or just to speak with these different communities we work with,” Ms Kelly said.
Occasionally, Everyday Legal will take on select cases pro bono if the women feel it’s in the public interest or justice will not otherwise be done.
While the firm still needs to remain profitable to keep the doors open, Ms Mead said Everyday Legal was primarily about assisting those who needed help.
She said the firm wanted to provide law classes in schools to teach children how a criminal charge could affect their lives.