Updated: Aug 17
Here at FamilyProperty, we make it our business to understand our subscribers and are committed to working with them to ensure that their businesses thrive. We’re proud to shine a light on their diverse journeys. This week, FamilyProperty’s Stefanie Costi sits down for a chat with family lawyer and author of The Splits, Bronwyn O’Loan.
Stefanie: Tell me a little bit about your background. Why did you decide to be a family lawyer? How long have you been a family lawyer?
Bronwyn: Before I became a family lawyer, I was a primary school teacher and a university lecturer. I saw the devastating impact that separation and divorce had on young children and their families but could only do so much. I decided to study law because I wanted to make more of a meaningful difference in the lives of separated families. I have been working as a family lawyer for over a decade. It has gone by very quickly.
Stefanie: You started your own family law practice in 2020. What made you go out on your own?
Bronwyn: I started O’Loan Family Law in the middle of the pandemic because I knew law could be different, better even. I wanted to make a positive impact in the family law space. With my own business, I could flip law on its head and put things into practice to make an already difficult time that little bit easier for families. First, by using fixed fees where work is based on value rather than reaching billable targets. Second, by working collaboratively - rather than competitively like in old-school firms – I ensure that my team can secure better outcomes for clients.
Stefanie: Being a family lawyer is tough. What makes you keep doing a job that is sometimes a thankless one? What do you think is important for family lawyers to do to get through challenging matters easier?
Bronwyn: The role can certainly be thankless sometimes but usually it is the opposite. I do my utmost to help separated couples settle their matters without the need for long, drawn-out court proceedings. There is nothing like reaching a settlement and helping a family move on with their lives.
I think self-care is also really important and something that is being talked about more in the legal profession. Taking time to look after ourselves is imperative to being healthy enough to physically, mentally and emotionally show up and be effective in the family law space.
Can I also say that what also makes being a family lawyer a tough gig is sometimes the attitude of other lawyers in the profession. I find that being empathetic, professional and courteous with my colleagues goes a long way to making daily life in the legal arena more enjoyable. Kindness is key.
Stefanie: What has been your most memorable family law matter?
Bronwyn: My most memorable family law matter was representing a client who had not spent time with their son for over 12 months. It was a really tough fight but we got there in the end. That matter really taught me to appreciate that - as family lawyers - we have a great responsibility in assisting families to get through splits with their relationships with their kids intact.
Stefanie: Congratulations on becoming an author and launching your incredible book. What an incredible achievement! What inspired you to write a book? Was it a particular case? Was it your job as a family lawyer?
Bronwyn: Thank you! I am very proud of the book. The Splits – How to help your kids navigate separation and divorce was written as a guide to help families navigate the ups and downs of separation. It covers everything from how to talk to and support your kids through separation to navigating the family law system to establishing a new normal.
There was actually one client who specifically inspired me to write the book. She was a young mum who really struggled with how to help her kids get through the separation journey. We spent lots of time workshopping the issues that come up in these situations. I started to think to myself - I can help more parents with this issue so I did!
Stefanie: What was the hardest part about writing your book?
Bronwyn: It is actually really hard to write a book. There are so many roadblocks that can get in your way. Time constraints, staying inspired and the dreaded imposter syndrome all sneak up on you. I kept clarity by reminding myself about who I was writing this book for. Not for my colleagues, not for critics, but for separating parents. I also was very lucky to have an incredibly supportive family who ensured that I could duck out each weekend to sit quietly and write, and write, and write.
Stefanie: You use FamilyProperty in your practice. What is it about FamilyProperty that makes your life easier? What features do you like the most? What do you think is the best part about it for sole practitioners?
Bronwyn: FamilyProperty was an absolute gamechanger for my firm. I use it from the very beginning of every matter, all the way to the end.
I love that my potential clients can complete the questionnaire prior to an initial consultation with our firm. We then take that information and have a really good idea about where they are at before we sit down with them.
I love using the interactive Balance Sheet during initial consultations and working with clients to model out what their settlement might look like. It is something I continue to use as the matter progresses as it makes it easier to model out options and work out the other party’s position. It really helps to clearly define what is in dispute and what has been agreed.
Stefanie: What other technology do you use in your business?
Bronwyn: I am a technology junkie. Our firm continues to embrace technology across all areas to enhance our ability to provide an efficient service for our clients.
FamilyProperty helps out enormously at O’Loan Family Law along with automated calendar appointments for clients, shared file services for easy document uploading and sharing, a marketing portal for business growth and our staff intranet to document processes and develop precedents.
Stefanie: What are you most looking forward to in the next year?
Brownyn: As a Sydney resident, I am really looking forward to reaching a high vaccination rate so that we can start to open up and move toward our new normal. My family law colleagues would agree that although we have not been particularly negatively impacted by the pandemic, other industries including so many small businesses, have been really affected and so have their families.
Bronwyn O’Loan is the Director of O’Loan Family Law. To purchase her book, The Splits – How to help your kids navigate separation and divorce, you can visit www.bronoloan.com. You can also follow O’Loan Family Law on Instagram at @oloan_family_law.