Updated: Aug 31
Kristy-Lee Burns is a highly skilled lawyer with extensive experience in family law. With trial experience in complex family law matters involving trusts and commercial matters, and her expansion into Estate Litigation and Testamentary Trust Wills, her ability to bring a commercial mindset to this emotion-driven area of law is highly evident.
She was recently appointed the first female equity partner at Owen Hodge, an incredible achievement and a testament to her leadership skills. and aptitude for connecting, building, and maintaining excellent client relationships.
We spoke with Kristy-Lee about what she finds most rewarding about being a family lawyer, why seeking advice early is so important, and what features within FamilyProperty she finds useful in her practice.
Hi, Kristy-Lee. Many thanks for giving up your time for a chat. First and foremost, tell me a little bit about your career in family law.
Thanks for having me. My experience in family law has been extensive. I first started out in a boutique family law firm where I received the benefit of great mentoring from a leader with systematic processes that made the process easier to follow. This set the foundation for the practice that I have built at Owen Hodge Lawyers. I am a big believer in bringing a commercial mindset to an emotive area of law.
Why do you choose to practise family law day in and day out?
I like to help people when I can or point them in the direction of someone I know when I cannot. I see the need for a measured approach when people are at their most vulnerable stage of life.
It is an emotive area of practice but if you are organised and have a solicitor who can deliver an outcome that everyone can live with, then I say the prospects of a reasonable outcome increases which allows both parties to quickly move on with their lives.
What has been your most memorable matter to date?
There have been two. The first was a parenting case where I helped a mother with a special needs child who was faced with a trial after being self-represented for six years. I exceeded her expectations of a favourable and practical outcome. It was incredibly rewarding.
The second was a highly complex financial matter whereby negotiations were tense, but the solution was creative, allowing everyone to move forward with their preferred interests. I learnt a lot in this matter, and it definitely made me think outside the box.
What is the best and most testing aspect of being a family lawyer?
The most rewarding part is when clients appreciate your advice and role in the matter. The most testing part is having to tell them the hard truths about the law and their predicament.
What do you think everyone involved in family law matters can do better?
Transparency and communication is key. Seek advice early, brief early if need be but more importantly calculate the cost to the client not only in financial terms but also wellbeing. Sometimes, it is easy to overlook this when you are so focused on achieving a good outcome from a legal point of view.
The last two years have been incredibly tough on everyone. I imagine that it would have been even tougher for those involved in family law disputes.
What do you think the most common challenge is for family law clients at the moment? What is the underlying theme?
The cost of negotiating and settling a matter. To give proper advice, you need to see the full deck of cards but that often comes at a cost.
Has FamilyProperty made your life easier in the last two years when there has been a focus on working remotely? What features do you like the most?
Having the ability to provide a client with one single location to provide information and upload documents is incredibly useful. It saves time and avoids duplication of information. I love the Balance Sheet and autopopulated proposals that explain the outcome. The program also allows lawyers to control the level of access clients have and gives them the opportunity to streamline the process, so they do not overlook or miss anything.
Technology really does make a difference in a law firm, doesn’t it? What other technology do you use in your practice?
Lots! Video conferencing and third-party support services are often readily on call, keeping efficiency high and costs affordable.
What are you most looking forward to in the next year from a professional and personal perspective?
I am ambitious, but I never lose sight of the need to continue learning. I hope to be a successful and empowering leader to others, but also want to have the ability to continue the work-life balance that has proven to be possible when supported.
Interested in learning more about how FamilyProperty can help your law firm? Book an obligation-free demo with our friendly team today.