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Lelien Chua shares how her love for the ocean keeps the stress of a legal career in perspective.

How many litigation lawyers do you know who show up to client meetings in board shorts? Building and construction lawyer Lelien Chua may be the only one.

Chua, 40, is a senior associate at Grace Lawyers and works in building and construction litigation, solving strata disputes and representing owners’ corporations against local councils. She says dressing casually suits her line of work because many of her client meetings don’t happen in boardrooms.

“I see clients who have a leak in their apartment and there’s water up to their knees in the bedroom,” says Chua. “They couldn’t care less if I rocked up in a Kombi van.”

Chua says her casual approach encourages the everyday people she represents to trust and relate to her more easily. Wearing board shorts to meetings also makes for an easier transition between work and where Chua feels most at home – in the ocean. “Once I turned up in my boardies and rashie to a meeting,” says Chua.

“It was on a Saturday and the clients were down in Shellharbour so I said I’d go down, talk to the clients and go for a surf afterwards. When I introduced myself, the clients just looked at me and cracked up laughing. I wasn’t like any lawyer they’d ever seen. Because of that, they totally opened up to me.”

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