I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Michelle Lember through networking events and am very pleased she’s agreed to share her expertise with us at the next Professional Parents event on Tuesday 17th April 2012. She particularly enjoys working with intellectual property and franchising so we will be able to have her answer some of our questions in this area.
Michelle is 35 years old and a lawyer/partner in Lember and Williams Lawyers which has offices in Caboolture and Maleny. She lives in North Lakes and has two children – Declan is in grade 2 and Carah in grade 1.
Before becoming a mum, Michelle says that nothing needed to be done in a hurry, less planning was required and spontaneity was a part of her life. Now, spontaneity involves the kids and lots of planning and organising is required to keep up with work, plus extras plus school stuff (homework, readers, library books, projects, show and tell etc) and to get free to go to parades and concerts and sports days
Michelle has a really impressive list of qualifications:
- Bachelor of Economics
- Bachelor of Law
- Bachelor of Business Management
- Masters of Commercial Law
- Certificates of International Law (Marquette University, Wisconsin, USA)
- Admitted to practice as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland and High Court of Australia
- Member – Qld Law Society
- Member – Australian Family Law Practitioners Association
- Vice President – Commerce Caboolture
- Board Member – Regional Development Australia – Moreton Bay
- Board Member – Abbey Museum
- Secretary – LNP Murrumba Branch
- Coach – North Lakes Mustangs Under 8s Blue J
I loved Michelle’s response to the question:
Do you find these qualifications/training still relevant now you’ve become a parent?
Yes – for negotiating deals and plea bargains with the kids! They actually say to me now “Mum, lets do a deal”
She certainly works hard with regular weeks requiring about 40 hours in the office with about another 10-15 at home. Her husband is a butcher by trade, but now employed as a wholesale manager. He is supportive of her business but can get frustrated with the hours but they work out school pick up and drop off between them – Michelle does drop off and her husband picks up (he starts work at 2am). “We are lucky in that regard to not have to pay for care which is prohibitively expensive and one of my bug-bears”.
Here’s a “typical day” for Michelle:
- Logging in from home early morning to deal with emails or dictate work
- School drop off
- Office work – documents, phone calls, meetings with clients, letters, research
- Court work
- Home 5.30-6.30pm
- Some evening meetings such as Chamber of Commerce
With a converted worker’s cottage as an office, she feels it’s not particularly space efficient but has a homely feel. It’s also family-friendly with no impositions on staff’s out of hours time, no need for apologies of making it up if kids are sick.
Something Michelle loves about her work is the freedom to be at sports days and easter hat parades and not have to ask for leave or apologise for being out of the office. She also likes to set an example to her childre re the need to have goals and work hard towards them. They don’t consider that they is anything they can’t do.
Here’s a few more questions I asked Michelle in this email interview:
How did you come to run your own business?
I worked for a practice as an employed solicitor for 2 years, then purchased the interest of Gail Maskiell upon her retirement
What surprised you about becoming a parent?
- Working mother’s guilt
- Reliance upon grandparents
- The friendship between you and your children
Anything unexpected about running a business?
- Battling mis-perceptions (of wealth, that things are easy for you etc etc).
Greatest wishes for your children and business?
Success would mean getting both to a point where they want me a round but no longer need me.
Recent moments you are most proud of?
- Five Star Dance Academy Opening
- Family Law results – child safety matters
Work-life balance especially when under-staffed at work
What do you think is a myth about being a working parent?
That you are lazy/not ambitious/not serious about your career if you are a working parent, or conversely that you aren’t maternal if you work after you have had children (yes I have been accused of all of the above!)
Advice to those starting out in business?
Don’t do it because you think it will be easier than employed work. It wont be. That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be worth it in a qualitative sense.
Some of your favourite resources:
Some favourite Professional Parents businesses or organisations?
And finally, do you have some tips for work family balance?
- Mobile phone to silent when you get home – especially if you receive emails to it. If you need to work from home try to go it after the kids have gone to bed, or in the morning before they get up.
- Don’t get into the habit of being available 24/7 and promising amazing deadlines.
- The house can be cleaned later.
- Lember and Williams website: a professional team of lawyers and solicitors covering areas such as Family Law, Employment and Workplace Law, Intellectual Property and Trademarks, Wills and Estates, Conveyancing and Property Law and more
- Lember and Williams Facebook page: come and interact here with the team and find some tips and photos