In today’s episode no. 29 I had the pleasure of speaking with Carolyn Devries, CEO and founder of Australia’s first non profit law firm New Way Lawyers. When Carolyn experienced a disconnect between her practise of law and what she learned in law school, she set out to find a way to express her core values through her work. This led to her establishing New Way Lawyers 10 years ago.
Carolyn has strong views and advocates at every opportunity as to why legal services that involve strong emotions for the clients, such as family law and estate law, should be delivered through a non-profit model. She sees family law as a community service with strong public policy implications. Provision of legal services, or someone’s inability to access legal services can lead to a greater demand on other social services.
Carolyn shared her personal story about the early days of new way law, the fun and not so fun parts, especially being challenged by other members of the profession about her approach, sometimes from sectors of the profession you would expect to be more supportive. And you might be wondering, being not for profit how is this business sustainable? Carolyn explains how she keeps the lights on, while keeping her staff happy and her fees affordable.
If you are someone who tunes in to hear about the use of technology in a practice, you’ll get a few tips towards the end of the interview regarding how to maximise efficiency and streamline services. Apart from increasing your profit margins, doing so could garner you interest in your practice from around the country and overseas, as it has in the case of New Way lawyers.
Carolyn’s skill set is perfectly suited to her role as CEO of Australia’s first non profit law firm. She holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice and she is admitted to practice in the High Court of Australia, the Supreme Court of Queensland and the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Carolyn also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Masters in Human Services, specialising in the management of non profit organisations.
Carolyn has been publicly recognised and awarded for her work in establishing New Way Lawyers. In 2012 she was a finalist in the Queensland Telstra Business Women’s Awards being nominated for the Community and Government, Innovation and Young Business Women’s categories and she was the winner of the Community and Government Award.
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