Full Time Practice

Monday, April 29, 2013

Australia Part I: Meet Helen Black, the Adelaide Australia Chapter Chair

(Taken from an interview with Helen Black.)

Why did you want to be a lawyer?  

My mother always said I was the most argumentative of her children! (I am one of 9 children).  Usually (back then) it was said in an exasperated tone of voice - but my parents are very proud of me now.  I decided that law suited me, more than I had a desire to become a lawyer. Unlike many people I did not have a strong drive towards a particular career but I knew I wanted to do something that meant I could make a difference.

When my husband, Warwick and I were married (back in the mists of time) my husband was in medical school (which takes 6 years in Australia) and so I worked to support our growing family through the early years and decided to postpone my own university education until he was finished. After Warwick went on to do another 6 years of specialty training "my turn" ended up being 12 years and 4 children later! My husband has been totally supportive of my decision to go to law school and I am so grateful for his encouragement. His shoulder is excellent for crying on when the computer crashes on the last paragraph of your assignment.

What type of practice do you have?  

I started out doing articles in a general law firm with the intention of sampling a number of areas of law before deciding what I wanted to do.  One piece of advice I give young law students is that the practice of law is very different to the academic study of it. Just because you don't like a subject at law school - don't close your mind to that area of practice. I didn't like studying family law at university but I have ended up practicing solely in family law and I love it. I am a Senior Associate in a small, specialist Family Law firm in Adelaide (which is in the state of South Australia), and I drive a car to work every day - no riding kangaroos!

Can you share with us a little bit about your family?  

My husband Warwick is a psychiatrist who works to provide mental health services to rural and remote areas. We have four children, Chelsea 24, Lachlan 19, Caitlin 17 and Duncan 15.  Lachlan is at university and my youngest 2 are still at high school.  I am only 5'3" but my boys are both over 6'2" and still growing. I think its the Australian sunshine that makes them grow like weeds. They are amazing people and I love them so much!  My husband and I love to travel together and enjoy exploring new places. 

Yes, there are koalas in the trees near where I live. They can be very noisy and make a sound like pigs oinking (not kidding). Yes there are kangaroos out in the countryside - but not in the suburbs and we don't ride them!
Not all of the wildlife in Australia will kill you and California has more shark attacks than we do. It gets very hot in the summer but it also gets cool in the winter which a lot of visitors seem to forget and are very surprised that its cold in the middle of July. We have BBQ pool parties for Christmas and go to the beach for New Years. I love being an Australian!

Stay tuned for Australia Part II: Law School, Women Attorneys, the Law Society

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