INTERVIEW WITH LEANNE ABELA
Pearsons Lawyers was established in 1922 and is almost 100 years old. This is quite an achievement for a law firm, even more so when you consider some of our staff have been with us for 35 years. Pearsons Lawyers practice in the area of Family Law. We have a team of approximately 35 employees and 14 offices across Melbourne. Leanne Abela and Joseph Schepis are the directors and partners of the firm and talk with passion and excitement about the firm and their love of family law.
How many years have you been practising?
I graduated from Melbourne University in 1985 and spent one year doing my Articles which really is another word for “apprenticeship” in law in 1986. I completed this at Pearsons and I was fortunate enough to remain with the firm and I am still here now, 35 years later. When I first commenced practising in law I did generalist law in Personal Injuries, Wills, Probate, Conveyancing, Criminal Law and Family Law. This had its challenges as it was time consuming to stay on top of all of the changes in the law and to practise well across so many different jurisdictions. Ultimately, it was Family Law which I felt most comfortable with despite having won the Law Institute prize for my practising Criminal Law in 1988. I think the prize was enough to be able to purchase a really good Country Road suit!
What prompted you to practise law?
Growing up I always wanted to be either the first female Prime Minister of Australia or a Speech Pathologist. Well I did neither. I was lucky enough to do what I love and am good at. I have always had a desire to help others and enjoy the interesting and varied life stories of people. I never thought that I would own my own practice and I started to think about being a business owner more seriously in my late 20s. By the time I was 30 years of age I was a Partner at Pearsons, a firm that had been established in 1922. I was the first female solicitor and first female Partner of the firm. At that time there were very few female Partners of law practices and this gave me an even greater desire to succeed and do well.
What do you love about Family Law?
When people ask me what I do for a living I tell them “I make people happy”. I truly do believe that in practising family law I disentangled people from a very bad relationship and hopefully give them peace of mind and the ability to be clear about their entitlement and their future whilst always balancing the desire to do what’s best for that individual family moving forward when the solicitors are no longer involved. I solve problems. I am a trouble shooter and I have had 35 years practising it. I am entrusted with the privilege of the client’s life story. People’s lives are so different to each other and in having been a part of the journey in their lives, particularly in this time of crisis, I feel that I have learnt so much from my clients themselves.
The favourite part about what you do
I love running a business and managing people. I enjoy seeing the growth in the solicitors which I have mentored over the 35 years and helped in establishing their careers. I enjoy client interaction, hearing the stories of their lives and being with them in Court. I am fortunate enough to work in an office with an amazing diverse group of people who have a good sense of humour, dedication to detail and a good work ethic. They are all so professional. We are like a family and many of the people who work here have been here as long as I have and, in some instances, even longer. The practise of law and running Pearsons still excites me and energises me.
In 3 words describe Pearsons Lawyers
“Professional, creative and diverse”.