Mullane & Lindsay
What is the best thing about working in Newcastle?
The people. Newcastle is big but it’s also small enough that you know virtually everyone. I always call it a big country town; it’s not really a city even though it technically is. I often go to the beach of a morning and I’ll see one of the local barristers out on their boat sailing. I bump into one of the magistrates at my local sandwich shop at the same time nearly every day. It’s seeing a judge at Coles or having a chat with a client at the local fish and chip shop.
What are the biggest challenges working regionally?
We are much luckier than a very small country town but because we are still a regional centre, not a capital city, we don’t have all the resources Sydney does. In family law, we are lucky to have a registry here and just opposite us are the Local and District Courts. We do have to send clients to Sydney to do certain courses. COVID has helped because we can do things virtually.
What attracted you to family law?
My parents divorced when I was three, and they did a really good job. We had family dinners, holidays and they got everything done. When I started practising, I thought it was something I could bring personal experience to. I wanted to bring some of that light at the end of the tunnel into my clients’ lives.
What are you most passionate about?
Mental health and the law. One of the advantages of working in a regional town, is you get to know your colleagues, judges and opponents as humans first. Because you know them as humans, you are less inclined to send the nasty letter or be overly bullish. That ties into the mental health struggles that lawyers have.
You’ve also practised in Maitland, how was that different to Newcastle?
Maitland is only 30-odd kilometres from Newcastle, but you do already notice that lack of resources. You rely on the Local Court for everything in terms of getting orders made. People still actually chew on straw walking down the main street. There are also entire shops that exclusively sell Akubra hats.