Updated: Mar 21
Here at FamilyProperty, we make it our business to understand our subscribers and are committed to working with them to ensure that they can continue to change family law for the better. We are proud to shine a light on their diverse journeys.
Stefanie: Good morning, Tara. Thank you for joining us today. For all those who do not know your background, what has your career looked like so far?
Tara: I was a Judge’s Associate in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia for ten years which I loved but I felt the desire to broaden my knowledge and skills in mediation.
I completed my Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution in June 2020 and jumped straight into working as a mediator in October 2020. I also volunteer with Interact Support Inc and conduct mediations at the Parramatta Family Relationship Centre.
Stefanie: Why did you choose to become a mediator?
Tara: I chose a career in mediation because I am passionate about helping people - who once were able to communicate and get along - find a way past their conflict and begin focusing on what really matters in life.
Stefanie: I imagine that conducting mediations would be quite intense and varied. Which matter will you never forget?
Tara: My most memorable matter to date was the resolution of a property matter that had been unresolved for three years. The parties were able to reach their own agreements about parenting but had struggled to reach a resolution about finances. They had lawyers engaged at different points and had tried negotiating several times in the past. We worked through three joint sessions which was an emotional rollercoaster for both parties with many tears and private sessions throughout.
The elation and relief displayed by both parties as they made their final agreement is something that will stick with me forever. The fight was over, and they could finally move on with their lives.
Stefanie: What are the best parts about being a mediator?
Tara: There are two things that stand out for me. The first is providing a space to empower people to discuss their concerns where they may otherwise not have ever experienced being able to speak up. The second is being able to validate that someone has been a victim of domestic violence. The power of validation cannot be underestimated when working in family law.
Stefanie: In your view, what are family law clients most concerned about at the moment?
Tara: Many clients have told me that finding a lawyer that they can afford, and trust stops them from getting legal advice. They feel that family lawyers are not concerned with helping them but are more concerned with making money from their misery. There are many bad stories of lawyers acting in that way which unfortunately drives perceptions and causes fear among clients about obtaining legal advice which can be detrimental to their ability to negotiate in mediation. It disappoints me when I hear these perceptions because it can impact the outcome of a mediation and is, in my opinion, mostly a false perception of family lawyers. For this reason, I have a strong referral network of reputable family lawyers and services at hand when working with parties.
Stefanie: Has the pandemic presented your practice with any challenges? If so, what are they and how do you plan to overcome them?
Tara: I completed my Family Dispute Resolution training right as COVID-19 hit the Australian shores in 2020. I therefore have only known mediation during a pandemic.
For me, the biggest challenge has been internet connections dropping out which is disruptive to the work that I do with parties in a mediation and completely out of my control. Talking to the parties at the beginning of the mediation about the potential for this to happen and the alternatives, such a telephone mediation, for progressing with the mediation is all that I can do.
I believe that the past two years have taught most people that sometimes you need to be flexible and creative in your problem solving and accept that you cannot control things.
Stefanie: You use FamilyProperty in your practice. How does the program make your life easier? What features do you like the most?
Tara: Initially, I began using FamilyProperty to assist me with my financial mediations because working with numbers has never been my strength. The thought of inserting information into a system that worked out calculations for me on the spot eased my worries about doing this in the presence of clients. However, I now also use FamilyProperty as my intake tool in both property and parenting matters because it captures all the basic information that I would usually spend a lot of time asking clients directly about and helps in my preparation before speaking with clients.
Stefanie: What other technology do you use in your practice?
Tara: As my mediation work began during COVID-19, I use online platforms such as Zoom and/or Microsoft Teams to conduct my mediations. I also use Calendly and have begun using a virtual assistant to help me with incoming enquiries.
Stefanie: The last two years have tested all of us professionally. What is your goal for 2022?
Tara: My New Year’s resolution for 2022 was to work smarter not harder. FamilyProperty is the first step to me achieving this goal. I look forward to refining my processes and building my practice.