Full Time Practice

Friday, August 14, 2015

Meet Amanda Smiler

Amanda (Mandy) Smiler is in her final year of Law School at the University of Waikato in Hamilton New Zealand.  We are grateful to her for answering some of our interview questions so we can get to know her better!
What have I done during law school? 
I volunteer weekly at the Hamilton District Community Law Centre.  In this capacity I do the initial client interviews and consult with the lawyers to then provide our clients with advice to meet their needs.  I have also just agreed to a weekly volunteer admin role that focuses on legal correspondence, research, requests, and client interviewing.
I am also the Waikato University Student Representative for the JRCLS.  Last year our chapter chair Soraya Barker & I instituted a monthly free legal advice clinic under the JRCLS.  My role is to organise the appointments via our facebook page and through the referrals we receive from the Hamilton District Community Law Centre and the Hamilton Citizens Advice Bureau.  I also co-ordinate all our students to serve as client interviewers for our clinics and run the clinic on the day.
What do I enjoy most about what I do?
The ever-available increase of knowlege that comes through my associations in the law.  I love helping to ease the burdens of others.  I love the discipline of study and the sacrifice it requires to hold my own as an adult student.  I love that the study of law feeds my hope of making this world a better place.
Has my path in law differend from my original expectations?
I laughed when I read this!  YES!  So so much!  After finishing my service as a full-time missionary in the Australia Brisbance Mission in 1997, I was accepted into BYU Provo where I aimed to pursue my law degree.  On arrival home to New Zealand I met and married my now ex-husband.  We had four incredible children and my goals were happily put into the "not right now" pile.  I became a single parent in 2004 whilst pregnant with my fourth child.  For seven years I prayed, asking if it was the right time for me to pursue my Law School dream.  I received many "not yets" but in January of 2012 I got my yes.  I never "planned" to be at law school as I hit 40 and surely did not plan to be a single parent doing it - but as I keep my promises to Heavenly Father, he makes me so much more capable than I am.
My Future Professional Goals?
I hope in the future to in some capacity stand as an advocate for abused women and children.  Combining criminal prosecution, family  and human rights law would be incredible.  
In 10 years time my four future missionaries will be gone - I would love to spend some time at The Hague and eventually build an LDS Womens Law Firm specialising in legal rights for women, mediation and collaborative lawyering.
My juggling act?
Depending on the day my efforts at juggling can be spectacular, ridiculous, astounding or a complete failure! I made a committment to Heavenly Father that during my time at law school I would never study between 3 - 7.30pm weekdays.  That time I am Mum - their homework, chores, dinner, family prayers and scriptures, bedtime stories etc.  I have kept that committment apart from sproradic lectures held during these times.  I have never studied on Sundays and fulfill my responsibilites in my role as a Relief Society presidency member before any University related assignment.  I live in an incredible community of family and friends that enable me to succeed.  I have fantastic visiting and home teachers and neighbours who stand in for me, stand up for me, and support all my efforts.  To juggle well, means to be humble enough to ask for help and my loved ones are teaching me this.  I have no doubt that when we put Heavenly Father first, he magnifies our abilities & lessons the weight of the burdens we may feel.
My family?
Love them!  They have willingly come on this amazing journey of learning with me.
My eldest Elijah "our leader" is 16 and is in Year 12 at High School.  We have competitions to see who gets the highest marks :) His abilities lean toward the sciences and maths.  When he's not at seminary or fulfilling his Priest duties, you'll find him on the basketball court as a senior representative for his school team.
Eden (14) "our service giver" is in Year 10.  She has the coolest ability to laugh off failures and just keep trying.  Love that about her.  She is an incredible A grade netball player and represents her school.  She is a high achieving student with a love of drama, reading, and is a wonderful Young Womens member.
Ezra (11) "our sensitive soul"  is Year 7.  Addicted to basketball - he represents both his school and is in the U13 Waikato team.  He is highly competitive in all sports and in his education.  
Noah (10) "our comedian" is Year 6 and is our future All-Black (he is rugby mad!), Picasso (spends all his time free-drawing) and/or comedian.  
MY advice?
Yes YOU are worth the dreams you have in your heart!  Pursue them, work for them, chase them, sacrifice for them and every step of the way include The Lord first in your journey and He will direct your paths for good

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