In mid-2016, Sydney-based solicitor Claire Martin is on track to be one of the first graduates of The College of Law Master of Laws (Property Law) program. With a legal career spanning across 16 years and numerous practice areas, Martin’s journey to her Masters has required her to overcome an array of challenges.
Martin commenced her full-time legal career in 2000 as a law clerk for Hazlett and Co, where she worked for over six years. It was during this early phase of her career that she first delved in Property Law.
“There was a lot of pressure to go the extra mile to settle every matter possible on the intended completion date,” Martin said of her time at Hazlett and Co.
“The best part of that job was once the day was over that was it. You never took work home with you.”
After the birth of her daughter in 2006, Martin could no longer work the hours required of her at Hazlett and Co, and took up a settlement clerk position at Sharon Moss and Associates. Her time at Sharon Moss and Associates marked two significant changes in her career: the decision to pursue her LPAB, and her ambition to one day become a judge.
“Sharon Moss is an accredited specialist in Family Law and she encouraged me to enrol with LPAB as a distraction following a relationship breakdown,” Martin said.
“I was going through the Family Law Court system regarding the custody of my daughter and was appalled at the process. The only way to change the laws is to become a judge or a politician, so I am aiming for judge.”
Martin continued her studies when she moved to Court Legal, and interviewed for her current role at Kreisson the day after her final exams, where she was able to finish her PLT and continue on as a solicitor once admitted.
Martin was quick to establish herself as an expert in Property Law, an area she says she finds to be immensely rewarding.
“I enjoy both the transactional component and the litigation side to property matters that are complex and enthralling. Each property matter has a unique set of hurdles to overcome,” she said.
“I would prefer to be enabling clients to transact in the property market and achieve their goals with developments and projects to any other type of law I have been exposed to. I think I receive more thanks from my clients than anyone else in the firm.”
Martin says her enrolment in The College of Law’s LLM has given her an edge in the advancement of her career.
“The LLM program puts you in touch with a variety of peers who transact in the same workspace and having someone on the other side of any matter who you know makes communication and transactions run smoothly,” she said.
“Doing my Masters has given me a deeper understanding of the law and I think my ability to foresee problems before they arise was definitely a factor of my recent promotion to head of our property department.”
As both a successful legal professional and a single mother, Martin has needed to overcome a number of challenges in her career. However, she advises that time management and a strong support network can allow many legal practitioners to balance work and family.
“Justice Farrell told me: ‘You can have your cake, and eat it too; just not at the same time.’ Get things done right the first time because an hour saved is an hour you can spend with your family,” she said.
“Setting realistic goals and balancing life and work is the biggest challenge. If you want to be top of your career and have a family, you need a lot of support and people in your life you can trust.“