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19 July 2016

Making Partner and Striking Out with Your Own Firm: Advice from Carla Parsons

Published on 19 July 2016
Carla Parsons made partner while studying her LLM (Applied Law) with The College of Law. Following graduation, Parsons became an Accredited Specialist in Succession Law (Qld), achieving top marks in the course. She also recently struck out to start her own practice, Parsons Law, specialising in Wills & Estates, and will soon be teaching in the College’s LLM (Applied Law) Wills & Estates subjects. Insights spoke to Parsons, Director of Parsons Law, about her career and study to date, what’s next for her, and what advice she might have for lawyers contemplating their next career move.

“I think there are a combination of factors which have assisted me along my journey so far,” said Parsons. “Working with a number of inspiring mentors, finding an area of law I really enjoy and pursuing further academic studies and qualifications,” were all factors Parsons credited with her success. However, like many postgraduate law students Parsons noted making room for a Masters and a full-time job requires quite a few concessions.

“There have also been many long days, extra hours, missed weekends and missed events with family and friends!” said Parsons. “It certainly can be difficult to find the right balance between work, study and personal life. However, it is something that you do have to remain mindful of and take steps to ensure that you do stay as balanced as possible.”

For prospective and current postgraduate students looking to strike this positive work-study-life balance, Parsons suggested setting goals and keeping in mind the bigger picture.

“This can help get you through those days and weeks where it all seems like too much,” said Parsons. She also firmly believes in the wise words once shared with her: "You can have it all but not necessarily all at once.”

“I often reflect on these words to keep me focused and motivated, particularly when I feel like I might be missing out on something more enjoyable or rewarding,” she said. “I try to manage my time very closely to make sure that not only work and study commitments are met, but to ensure that I also carve out the very important family and social time. I also find that a regular exercise routine is a great way for me to switch off from my work and study obligations and clear my mind.”

“No journey is perfect,” Parsons observed. “Hindsight is a wonderful thing! However, we will all make mistakes and have less enjoyable moments throughout our careers.”

“I feel that provided you can learn from the mistakes and take something positive away from the less enjoyable experiences, then it is all just part of the journey to make you a better lawyer and person in general,” she said.

Parsons’ passion and enthusiasm for her specialisation, Succession Law, is undeniable. “More often than not we are dealing with very emotionally charged situations and unfortunate circumstances,” said Parsons. “Some of the interesting cases that I have worked on over the years have generally involved multiple jurisdictions and informal testamentary documents. As for the strangest…I can think of a few unusual funeral requests and other wishes of eccentric will-makers that would take the cake!”

What’s next for Carla Parsons? Given her significant professional success to date, Parsons plans to consolidate her gains from postgraduate studies and promotions in the next few years.

“I am keen to practice at the highest level I can in the area of Succession Law and see Parsons Law grow in this space,” she said. “I also plan to continue to pursue my academic interests and to improve and perfect my skills as a specialist Wills and Estates lawyer.”

For lawyers looking to advance their career in a competitive climate, Parsons espoused postgraduate study, and identifying a specialisation.

“The knowledge that I gained has helped me considerably in practice – be it to reinforce what I already knew, expand upon my knowledge or to build and improve upon my practical skills. All in all, I feel that the additional study I have undertaken has helped improve my confidence and self-backing as lawyer,” said Parsons.

“Although I was exposed to many different areas of practice in my earlier career, I personally feel specialisation is important,” said Parsons. “I would also highly encourage further study in whatever shape and form it may take.”

The College of Law looks forward to welcoming Carla Parsons as an academic in its LLM (Applied Law) program, as she shapes the next generation of Australia’s Wills and Estates specialist lawyers.