Wallumatta Legal is on a mission to provide affordable family law assistance to the ‘missing middle’.
While the firm’s aim is bold and strong, it's one that it takes very seriously.
Over 8.5 million Australians find themselves in the ‘missing middle’ because they are ‘too rich’ to obtain Legal Aid but ‘too poor’ to pay for private legal services.
This month, we had the opportunity to sit down with Wallumatta Legal’s Principal Solicitor, Vivian Galanis, to get her take on how the firm improves access to justice and all things FamilyProperty.
Tell us about your career in family law. What is your “why”?
Prior to joining Wallumatta Legal in October 2021, I worked at a national law firm in the family law practice for six and a half years. I then moved to a Community Legal Centre where I led the family law service and expanded the assistance provided to the local community.
Separation and divorce are one of the most challenging periods of people’s lives. It involves a huge transition in relation to children, finances and family dynamics. As a family lawyer, I am passionate about ensuring clients navigate these issues in an informed way to achieve outcomes and avoid protracted disputes.
What led you to Wallumatta Legal?
I felt that the opportunity I was given at Wallumatta Legal was a very exciting one. I have been able to combine my experience in private practice and in the community legal centre sector in a hybrid model which enables us to improve access to justice for the ‘missing middle’. Our model allows us to provide clients with options for legal assistance through unbundled services and traditional representation. The process of finding ways to apply technology innovatively for the benefit of our clients is interesting to me.
What has been your most memorable matter to date?
I don’t think that there has been one matter which stands out above others. But in general, we have been able to provide support to several previously unrepresented clients with complex matters and very difficult personal situations which is memorable in itself.
What has been the most rewarding and testing aspect of family law?
In some ways, practising family law can be challenging due to the unpredictable and changing nature of clients’ circumstances and the processes which we need to follow to resolve their legal issues. Helping clients navigate often complex and emotionally difficult situations is very rewarding.
What is the key to a family law matter running smoothly?
Communication between the parties is crucial to the smooth running of a matter, this includes between lawyers, clients themselves and other parties. My view is that it is important to try to empathise with the other party and resolve matters amicably without the need to resort to the court process.
What do you think the most common challenge is for family law clients at the moment?
From my perspective, accessing family law advice and representation is one of the most common challenges that we hear from our clients. In our experience, this can often relate to affordability and to their individual circumstances.
Has the pandemic presented your practice with any challenges? If so, what are they and how do you plan to overcome them?
We only started seeing clients in late October 2021. However, I think that the pandemic has been challenging in many ways for our practice, particularly for a new business such as ours
where we have not been able to work face to face with colleagues and clients.
That said, it has presented opportunities to improve accessibility for many clients through the need to communicate via different technologies such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Legaler.
Working remotely has also led to more efficient processes including in relation to the court. Long may this continue!
Wallumatta Legal uses FamilyProperty. How does it make practising family law easier?
FamilyProperty has been a great addition to the practice. The ability to automate many processes which would be time consuming for us and our clients is hugely valuable.
Clearly significant development time has gone into understanding what family lawyers need and do on a daily basis and I think that the product features and interface reflects that.
What other technology do you use in your business?
We use a number of different applications in the practice. Our practice management system is Smokeball. We also use Xero as our accounting software and Microsoft 365. Our website is built on the Webflow platform which we have found to be very user friendly.
What does the next year hold for you both professionally and personally?
As a new business, I am very excited about growing and building the practice and our team over the next year. Our ability to continue to advise clients who would not otherwise be able to access legal advice and representation is something that I am looking forward to.
This is my first role as a Principal Solicitor, so from a personal perspective I am keen to continue to grow as a family law practitioner, but also to develop my commercial and leadership skills.
Vivian Galanis is the Principal Solicitor at Wallumatta Legal.