Today I pose two questions:

  1. What makes a good lawyer?
  2. Does it matter what 'package' that comes in?

The answer to the first question seems to be less controversial. People whole-heartedly agree that a 'good lawyer' is someone you can trust, with deep knowledge and experience, detail-oriented but also capable of strategic thinking, a great communicator who is able to make the complex seem simple.

I would personally add more to that list - customer/client focused, a great listener (not just talker), uber responsive and, above all else, approachable, pragmatic and innovative.

In any case, it's often the answer to the second question where we see division. Some people will answer 'no' and mean it; others will answer 'no' but with less conviction.

I know I'm a 'good lawyer'. Even just focusing on my CV, I graduated in the top 1% of the state, I'm top-tier trained, and in my 15 years' experience, I've worked for, and been promoted, at some of Australia's largest companies. I'm passionate about customer experience and receive great feedback about my ability to understand clients' business and come to practical solutions that work for them. My clients tell me I'm positive and approachable, with no ego, and they actually like picking up the phone to me. High praise for a lawyer!

And yet.. still, I'll dial into a call and see new clients register surprise at my appearance.

This year I've started publishing short videos about different aspects of employment law. My intention is to give accurate, helpful information in a more engaging way.

I've received feedback from a few sources, all of whom have been incredibly well-meaning, and for which I'm grateful. But it made me think. The feedback included:

....I personally really like the videos, but think of your audience. Your audience want to know they are dealing with a smart, capable, experienced, serious and grounded practitioner, rather than someone who is cheerful and easy going. Also, you look young - you may want to modify this.

This feedback hit me hard. I wondered (and no, I'm not kidding):

  • Am I too happy in the videos?
  • How do I be 'more serious'? (I even tried to adopt a monotone, but felt like a robot).
  • Okay, I look like I'm in my 20s (even though that ship has well and truly sailed!) Should I paint on some wrinkles? Do I need to wear my glasses and a jacket at all times?

This feedback was interesting - and personally challenging, because I can't change who I fundamentally am.

In any case, can you not be smart, thorough and focused, and simultaneously 'cheerful and easygoing'?

Maybe I'm missing a trick. But I'm the same top-tier trained, intelligent lawyer that you would be paying top dollar for in an office overlooking Sydney Harbour. I'm just happy, too.

What do you think? Is it me, or them?

And, I wonder, would a male lawyer also receive this feedback?

I'm very open to all thoughts on this!

Kelsey Hunter