I want to first say that I feel privileged and honored to receive Lyn Lucas’s story. Thanks for sharing your love, passion, pain, achievements and accomplishments. I will certainly pass on the mantel of encouragement and empowerment to other women internationally. I strongly believe our shared experiences are priceless. So it is with great honor and love I share your story Lyn.
This story is intended to motivate and inspire you to follow your vision and passion. Many of us use our age as a deterrent factor and so we don’t do. We don’t push to achieve our dreams. Many of us say “I am too old now”, “what sense will it make for me to go back to school; or it’s now to late to pick up ballet.” It is my dream to complete a PhD in Psychology, and I think that I will pursue it. I heard my daughter today telling her mother-in-law, “my mother was not so much a neat freak as her mom, but she had a place for everything, and every where was paper or books. She was always either studying for a test or writing a research paper.” I realized then that I should be back studying. I should be back in school pursing my degree in psychology. Although I completed by doctorate in education and often felt that psychology is where I should be. So I will look into that, to make sure that when the end comes, I would have painted my canvas with every color of the world. I should have lived a life with no regrets. Please read Lyn Lucas’s story. She has shared it with us. It just might empower you.
Creativity in Business - The importance of Passion and Challenges Faced by Women and How to Overcome them
INNOVATIVE LAWYER LOOKS OUTSIDE THE SQUARE
Whose story am I sharing? Hi, my name is Lyn Lucas; I am a Lawyer specializing in Family Law, and the Owner of Online Divorce Lawyer. I manage this online business as a division of my law practice, Lucas & Associates, Lawyers and Mediators in Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Over a period of almost twenty years I have helped hundreds of clients to resolve their property and children’s issues, and enabled them to move forward in their lives. I am 70 years of age, and studied Law as a mature aged student, qualifying at the age of 52.
Lyn loves a Challenge I enjoy a challenge, and at times these have come thick and fast! I am grateful for the opportunity to tell you a part of my story and hope I can inspire you to squarely face up to challenges, learn from your mistakes, and believe that you are never too old to follow your dream.
Lyn’s position in Law For most of my working life I was employed as a Legal Secretary, then as a Law Clerk. My first marriage became a little shaky in 1986 so I decided to increase my skills to improve my financial position. I had met and worked with many lawyers and believed that “If they can do it, so can I.” Initially I enrolled for a twelve month Open Foundation Course through the University of Newcastle – it was a long time since I had left school and I wanted to brush up on researching, writing assignments, and studying.
I needed to continue to earn an income, so I enrolled in an external law course at the University of Sydney, continued working full time with a medium-size law firm, studying and completing assignments, and attending lectures in Sydney on two weekends each semester. Discrimination of women in the legal field . . . equally pay for men and women was unheard of. Dealing with discrimination, harassment and unlawful dismissal.
Lyn Deal with discrimination in the Workplace
At that time there was still discrimination against women in the legal field, although my employers were supportive in paying for my text books, and allowing me a week’s study leave twice a year prior to exams. About six months prior to my final exams I had an annual staff review and feeling very brave, asked that once I was admitted as a lawyer I be treated the same as the male lawyers in the firm, and be paid an equivalent salary. I certainly didn’t think this was unreasonable as I had more experience than some of them, and brought in higher fees. However the knee jerk reaction of the Managing Partner and Practice Manager was truly amazing – how dare I ask for equality! Thereafter, followed six months of hell, including allegations of misconduct and criticism of my work, obviously attempts to force me to resign. I was at a critical stage of my study and could not consider resigning and losing wages, so I continued on as usual, until finally the Managing Partner terminated my employment with no real reason other than I was obviously unhappy and nothing was going to change.
I had learned a strong work ethic from my parents (I can’t remember my father ever having a sick day) and I was totally devastated after being “fired”. I had just finished my final exams, but once my employment was terminated I had real fears as to future employment and whether I would be granted an exemption from attending a six month course at the College of Law. Graduates who had gained practical experience during their studies were normally granted an exemption, but I was not sure that my employer would provide the relevant evidence of my practical experience.
Workplace Stress and Discrimination On top of this drama, I was not even sure I would pass my final exams as I had suffered a stressful six months at work. I was paying a mortgage on my home (I had then separated from my first husband and struggled to purchase a home of my own) and I was fearful that my home would be lost if I had to attend the College. I would not be able to work during my College attendance and would have 5 hours travel each day to and from the College. And I didn’t have a job anyway! With support from family, mentors and friends I made an application for compensation for unfair dismissal against my former employer, and finally resolved a payment settlement that enabled me to survive financially until I found employment. I was also provided with the relevant evidence to allow me to obtain an exemption from attendance at the College of Law.
Stuff Happens For A reason, and there is a positive for very negative and I have the ability to pick myself up, dust myself down and get on with it I do believe that “stuff happens” for a reason, and there is a positive for every negative, and I do have an ability to pick myself up, dust myself down, and get on with it. Within a short period I was able to find casual work, then employment as a Lawyer working in Family Law, and in February 1999 I had the choice to open my own law practice – so I went for it!
Family Law has always been a passion, I feel satisfaction from being able to help people at a very emotional and traumatic time, and watch them come out the other end of the tunnel with the confidence and self respect and esteem they had lost after their separation. In 1995 I trained as a Mediator, and am able to bring these skills into my work of negotiating property settlements for my clients.
About five years ago I had the opportunity to be part of an online business offering services to clients purchasing and selling real estate. Joint venture partners included a website offering services to clients to list their homes for sale online, and other online businesses offering pre-purchase building inspections, insurance, finance and electrical inspections. A year or two later, with two business partners, we commenced an online business women’s membership site. A few years later, again with two business partners, we started a digital business and lifestyle magazine.
Lessons Learned I am no longer a part of those businesses, the first two businesses folded, and I resigned from the third. What have I learned from participating in those businesses? Certainly the hardest lesson is to choose your business partners carefully, make sure you know them well personally, that they are experienced business people who can demonstrate that they have previously operated successful businesses and that they share similar ethics and dreams for the business you plan to run together.
Another lesson I learned was to stick with your “core” business where you have the experience and knowledge to be an expert in your field, where you can find a niche within that field – then claim that niche, and dominate it. And so was born the concept of my new business, Online Divorce Lawyer. Law is my core business; I have 20 years experience in family law and the knowledge and credibility to be recognized as an expert in that field. Over the years I have helped hundreds of clients to resolve their disputes about where the children will live and the time they will spend with the other parent, and to divide their property. Because I have been through two divorces I have a great deal of empathy with my clients, and understand the grief they suffer after the loss of a partner and a future planned together, and the emotional trauma they suffer in having to go through court proceedings to resolve their disputes.
I created Online Divorce Lawyer for a couple of reasons - my frustration with the family law system and its effect on clients who are already suffering emotionally, and trying to find a business that I could manage from home in semi-retirement. The business is unique, I know of no other law practice similar to it in Australia. The Family Law Act is a federal act, the legislation is the same in each State, so I can represent clients nationally. The Family Law Act has gone through many amendments during the years I have practiced, each time trying to streamline and simplify a very difficult area of law, but it continues to cause frustration and emotional stress to many clients, particularly those who have agreed on how their property is to be divided, and they then discover they have to comply with the strict provisions of the Act. It causes problems to me when I have to explain to clients why costs are escalating because complying with the system has lengthened the procedure. Obviously costs increase when clients are in conflict and dispute, and the matter needs to be litigated to reach a resolution.
My niche is now to focus on, and work with, couples who are not in dispute and who do not want to go through the Family Law Court. In most cases they realize that their separation and division of property will be much easier if they can come to their own agreement (rather than have a judge make a decision for them about their children and/or property) and they will save costs. Legal costs come out of the property pool, so both parties lose out when thousands of dollars are paid to the Court and to lawyers, valuers, accountants and financial advisers.
The ripple effect of a separation and divorce is incredible – children and extended family are affected, friends are torn between which party they should support (and many friends simply walk away because it is too hard). My experience is that if couples can put their differences aside, and avoid bitterness and feelings of revenge, they can have a continuing civil relationship. This is imperative if there are children involved.
My focus is to save time, stress and legal costs for our clients. We provide simple solutions for difficult divorces, resulting in a saving of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Our efficient services assist our clients to experience an amicable divorce, and give certainty in the time it takes for their property settlement to be resolved, lessening the grief and trauma of a separation and divorce. So after many challenges along the way, I am now comfortable in having found my niche business, I have claimed it – and am now working toward dominating that niche, and making separation and divorce an easier road for my clients to travel.
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