College of Law lecturer Susan Hamilton-Green has been named Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) of the Year for her innovative work providing mediation, dispute resolution, and conflict coaching. Susan founded her practice in 2005, working closely with solicitors and family law professionals to assist clients undergoing the challenges of familial separation. In addition, Susan teaches in the Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution Practice (FDRP) and the Master of Applied Law (Family Law) at The College of Law Victoria. Insights spoke to Susan about winning FDRP of the year, what she enjoys most about her work for Creative Family Law Solutions, and how she feels the field will develop in the years to come.
“I have worked very hard over the past two years in particular to promote family dispute resolution among the family law profession and to provide opportunities for my fellow family dispute resolution practitioners to discuss issues relevant to the field and promote best practice,” said Susan. In addition, she has presented at family dispute resolution events, taught and mentored other family dispute resolution practitioners.
“I have built up very important strategic alliances with other professionals to work collaboratively to assist families to resolve their disputes.”
Susan’s indefatigable efforts won her the FDRP of the Year award.
“It is such an honour to receive this award,” said Susan. “I feel very privileged as I know the other finalists and I respect their work in this area. I know that any one of us deserved this award.”
Her work keeps her constantly busy. “My weeks vary and involve a mix of teaching, private family dispute resolution, conflict coaching and litigation support. The balance between the different aspects of my business can be a challenge, but I receive great support from my team of paralegals and administrators.”
For those interested in moving into family dispute resolution, Susan encouraged FDR training. “I believe there are some personalities that are more suited to family dispute resolution – those who are good listeners, and who like to work with people to empower them to be a big part of sorting out their issues. These qualities provide a good foundation for mediation. Some lawyers prefer the more directive approach and struggle to put these traits to one side for the facilitative approach of meditation.”
Since starting her career as an articled clerk 35 years ago, Susan has witnessed drastic changes in the law. “The role of a family lawyer has changed so much,” said Susan. “It was solely based on litigation and knowledge of the law in those days. Now family lawyers and dispute resolvers have so many more tools that they can work with, and they are expected to have such a broad knowledge of other areas such as the social sciences and neuroscience. The practice of family law has become such a holistic approach to problem solving, and this is what I find most exciting. It is much more about finding a respectful way to approach people in their time of crisis, to understand their goals and seek to assist them in their journey.”
(Pictured) The Honourable Mr Robert French AC, former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, and patron of the Australian Disputes Centre (ADC), presented the award to Ms Hamilton-Green at the awards ceremony held at Ashurst on August 10th 2017.