Anna Neilan and Lucy Stramandinoli opened their Canberra-based family law firm in January 2017.
They have known each other for at least 16 years though, and both have at least that much experience.
“I started working in family law in October 2000” recalls Anna. “I remember because it really changed my focus on life and what I wanted to do with my career.”
Meanwhile Lucy’s answer when asked how many years of experience she had was “too many to count.
“Last job was for 16 years at one of the major family law firms in Canberra, where I held roles varying from administration, paralegal, practice management and HR and then finally a lawyer where I hit the ground running because of the years of exposure to family law.”
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In addition to their own relatively new partnership, Anna says “We are constantly growing and developing relationships with other professions – counsellors, psychologists, accountants and financial planners. This is for the benefit of our clients who often need a holistic approach to their situation.
“For example, a client with a concern about their child may benefit from speaking with a child psychologist, or a client may need advice from an accountant and/or financial planner in terms of planning for their future financial security.”
Lucy added “Canberra is a strong small community with a great range of professionals who work together such as accountants, financial planners, counsellors, psychologists.
“Family law covers so many areas of law including tax, trusts, bankruptcy so problems are challenging and interesting.”
What Lucy loves about the industry is “Empowering people to come up with their own solutions in the family law space which can be incredibly emotional, expensive and frightening if you do not know where the future will lead you”, as well as “taking a smarter, more economical approach to resolutions.”
Anna loves “Helping people when they are at their most vulnerable, through a process that is stressful and unfamiliar.
“We want clients to give us their legal problem so they can focus on looking after themselves, healing, caring for their children and working on financial decisions.”
Anna also says “I feel that there has been a changing of the guard in terms of the profession. The pupils are becoming the new masters so to speak” then added “It has also been exciting to see fellow colleagues moving forward by being appointed to the bench, bar or setting up their own practices, like we have.”
Lucy noted that theirs is a “Boutique practice with more of a personal touch rather than getting lost in a big pool of people.”
Lucy’s other reason for branching out was her “Strong admiration for Anna and her work ethic, her legal mind, and her approach with clients matched mine.”
Anna added that “It was a natural progression for us to do this as we both reached stages in our careers and life experiences that we knew that we could provide our clients with superior advice and guidance.”
As for the benefits of them being small, Anna observed “One concern that we were regularly hearing from clients was that they did not want to feel like a number.
“Given the high stress that our client’s go through, we want to ensure that the lawyer you start with and develop that trusting relationship with, is the lawyer that takes them through the case and guides them through each stage of their matter.”