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Hanaan Indari starts her new role as Managing Partner at Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers this month, making her the first woman to do so in the firm’s 121-year history. Indari has been with the firm for 23 years and is passionate about leadership opportunities for women.

How does it feel to be the first female managing partner at Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers? 

It’s a great honour. Generally, in the profession there is a lack of women at the leadership level, so it is great the firm is making its mark. Women are extremely competent and bring something different to the leadership level. When you have more women and diversity at the top, it brings many positives to the organisation. One of the issues for some women is that whilst they are extremely competent they might not automatically put their hand up to go to the next level. I think it is incumbent on people like me now in a leadership position to help by providing support and more opportunities for women.

What makes a good leader, and do you have any advice for people wanting to pursue a similar career path to you?

I think the key is authenticity. I’m very fortunate that my values align with the values of the firm. I encourage all lawyers to work hard and say yes to every opportunity that comes their way. Saying yes allows you to diversify your skill set in different areas of practice. Another crucial element is finding good mentors. I’ve had a brilliant mentor, Howard Harrison, who is the current managing partner at the firm. He gave me great opportunities and now he’s handing over the baton to me. I intend to mentor and support others in the firm. 

What are you most passionate about? 

I’m passionate about helping people and access to justice. My dad was an Arabic journalist and an advocate in the Lebanese community. I come from a background where contribution to the community and helping people is of huge significance. The law has given me this opportunity to assist people and make a difference to their lives. 

What have been your biggest career highlights?

Making partner after only six years with the firm was a big achievement. I was one of the youngest to be appointed and felt very honoured. After that I was proud to become the first deputy managing partner at Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers. I’ve been fortunate to do pro bono litigation particularly refugee advocacy. I also worked on the first stolen generation case early on in my career. 

How have you coped with changes due to COVID-19?

I think it’s been a challenging time for everyone. In a matter of days, we adapted the whole firm to operate remotely which ordinarily would take years. I’m transitioning to the role of managing partner during a pandemic. While this might seem daunting, I see it as an opportunity to help reshape the firm for the future. I’m passionate about having a flexible workplace on a permanent basis, digitising processes and continuing to provide the highest service to our clients. 

What do you do in your spare time?

I love cooking and yoga. I’m also part of a book club that meets every six weeks. At the moment we’re meeting via Zoom and reading Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. It’s great because we all have such diverse opinions from each other. We’re in our tenth year of running the club, so I guess you can say I’m not afraid of commitment.