Jacqueline Horani

Episode 43    4 October 2021

Pathways for young legal changemakers

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Pathways for young legal changemakersJacqueline Horani
00:00 / 42:45

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Jacqueline Horani

Founder, Horani Law PLLC

Founding Attorney, Teacher, Speaker, & Consultant 

Jacqueline Horani is a lawyer and the founder of Horani Law, PLLC - the law firm think tank hub for the work she does through her ‘Legally Unconventional’ work. We discuss alternative pathways for young lawyers graduating from law school and seeking to make a positive change through their legal practice immediately.

Bio

Show notes

Links

Transcript

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Bio:

Jacqueline Horani is a lawyer and the founder of Horani Law, PLLC - the law firm think tank hub for the work she does through her ‘Legally Unconventional’ work.

 

Jacqueline graduated from NYU School of Law in 2016 to begin a career in impact litigation at Legal Aid. As she increasingly witnessed systemic corruption within the New York City housing courts, rigid disincentives against creating meaningful solutions for her clients, and as her father (with whom she was very close) grew ill and died of cancer during her years there, she experienced a major crisis of confidence.

 

In May of 2019, Jacqueline launched her own firm, reconnecting to the entrepreneurial spirit instilled by both of her parents, and within her first year went from defining her role as an Integrative Lawyer working with small businesses, to co-creating and teaching the first Conscious Contracts® based law school clinic in the US, alongside J. Kim Wright.

Show notes:

  • [2:15] Jacqueline discusses her journey from a law student at NYU, learning about the integrative law movement, then going on to join a Legal Aid unit practising impact litigation.   

  • [6:26] Law students are ready for alternative pathways to enter into changemaking areas of practice.

  • [8:31] Jacqueline details the rampant corruption she witnessed in the New York Housing Court system. all while her father was suffering a terminal illness.  

  • [14:48] Jacqueline realised soon after her father passed away that she had to do different work.

  • [18:24] In her work, Jacqueline addresses alternatives to BigLaw for law graduates. This includes simplifying the hiring process so more alternative lawyers can hire graduates.

  • [22:38] Through Legally Unconventional (the brand her law firm works under), Jacqueline advises on law and business consulting, or Conscious Contracts® consulting.

  • [23:57] Jacqueline describes her Conscious Contracts® practice and how the values approach is not 'soft' but a hard-core critical component of contractual relationships. 

  • [26:49] Conscious Contracts® offers innovative ways to address change in contractual relationships, which do not have to lead to conflicts.

  • [31:09] I ask Jacqueline what her peers think of the alternative pathway she carved out for herself after leaving law school. 

  • [35:47] We talk about the need to redesign the law school offering, with more focus on clinical experience, mental wellbeing and sustainability.

Links:

Horani Law PLLC: www.legallyunconventional.com

Conscious Contracts® website

Rebellious Lawyers conference at Yale Law School

J Kim Wright's book Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law

J Kim Wright's book Lawyers as Changemakers

J Kim Wright interview on New Earth lawyer (Episode 1)

 

 
 
 
Episode 43 Image Quote IG.jpg
 

Transcript: 

Geraldine  0:11  
Hello everyone and welcome to the New Earth lawyer podcast. I'm Geraldine Johns-Putra. I'm your host and I am in Melbourne, Australia. I'm coming to you from Boonwurrung country and so I wish to pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging. I am here today with Jacqueline Horani. Jacqueline is a lawyer and she is the founder of Horani Law PLLC based in New York. Horani Law PLLC is the law firm think tank hub for work that she does through her Legally Unconventional work. Jacqueline graduated from NYU School of Law in 2016 and she began a career in impact litigation and legal aid. And there she increasingly witnessed systemic corruption within the New York City Housing Courts, and eventually experienced a major crisis of confidence. We'll speak to Jacqueline a little bit more about that in the podcast. May of 2019, she launched Horani Law PLLC and she reconnected to the entrepreneurial spirit that was instilled in her by both of her parents. So within the first year, she went from defining her role as an integrative lawyer, working with small businesses to co-creating and teaching the first Conscious Contracts® based law school clinic in the US alongside J Kim Wright whom we have had on this show. Jacqueline, welcome. It's a pleasure to have you.

 

Jacqueline  1:45  
Thank you so much.

 

Geraldine  1:48  
So I did want to talk more about that journey. You're a fairly recent graduate. And I say fairly, it's relative to other people we've had on this show and we were talking about this before we began recording. I'd love to hear about your experience coming out of law school, you know, how in a relatively short period of time, you decided that you had to do something different.

 

Jacqueline  2:15  
Yeah, I've been incredibly lucky. I met Kim Wright my first year of law school. So when I started law school at NYU, I immediately was going to all of the event fairs and the organisations. I got involved with the National Lawyers Guild. And they have a program in the fall right at the beginning of the semester when you come in, called disorientation. And it is for new law students to learn about non traditional opportunities and the law. And from there, they invited us to go to the Rebellious Lawyers conference at Yale, in the springtime. And that's where I met a colleague who introduced me to Kim Wright when I said, I don't know what to do for my first summer law experience, you know, I have all these ideas, nothing really fits with the traditional system. And she said, you need to speak to Kim. So I got on a phone call with Kim and ended up co-creating and designing my own internship that was researching intentional communities across the eastern US. And I went and visited 14 communities, interviewed people across a number of other communities, and studying governance models and conflict resolution and decision making processes. And through that process, I really got connected to Kim, Kim's work, Lawyers as Changemakers, Lawyers as Peacemakers.

 

And so throughout my law school career, it was always a part in the background like this exists, people are out there doing this. But when I was graduating, there, it was clear to me still, there wasn't a pathway for law students to enter into this integrative law movement. And the stories that I had heard over and over again, were these brilliant, wonderful, creative people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, older, who had spent decades in a traditional career, burned out, discovered a new way, saw the light, and were now practising in a different way. And that's great, but how do I not go into a career I don't want and burnout and end up, you know, in the same situation, it's not sustainable. So by happenstance, I ended up going to a housing law panel during my spring semester, right before graduation, still hadn't found a job, decided what I wanted to do, I tried a number of things: consumer rights, human rights, like a number of different practice areas of law, and went to a panel, learned about this impact litigation group, and thought, oh, this is like systems change. This is like some of the stuff Kim's talking about, and went and shadowed a number of organisations and ended up applying for a new unit at Legal Aid. That was the Tenant Rights Coalition that was going to do more impact litigation style work. So I had thought I found, you know, a path right out of law school aligned with this whole system's view thinking in the legal paradigm. And that's sort of what my path was through law school. 

Geraldine  5:34  
So that's really interesting, what you're saying is that it's one thing to have awareness or to give awareness to law students, it's another thing to create the pathway. So that's, it's so obvious, but I suppose to those of us who, you know, I am similar to the story, you told him what you hear, having gone through the traditional law career path, and that's most people on this show, go down a traditional law path and get burned out or dissatisfied, and so on and switch. So we think, just by creating awareness in young people that we can help to implement a change at that early age. And that practical thing that you're talking about, the pathway, is vital.

 

Jacqueline  6:26  
I mean it's the biggest question my students ask, or when I go and speak at events is, um, but can I do this right now? Like, do I do this when I graduate? Do I bring this into the law firms, the big law firms? You know, there's, I think, a readiness for these new concepts. I think people are open to it, especially after COVID of saying, you know, we want to work a different way, we want to practise a different way. But then, like, I think we're in the old paradigm thinking, we have to prove and justify that this makes sense. And I don't think we're there anymore. I think students are at the point of saying, yeah, we get it, we want it, thank you, how do I make it happen? So that's the biggest thing that I'm seeing come up is, and the biggest thing that's close to me, as you said, I'm a recent graduate, I mean, I'm now entering my fifth year of practice, but I still remember very clearly my law school experiences. And I take that to heart when I'm mentoring students or working with them. And that's a lot of what the think tank part of my law firm is about is trying to create pathways and clarify for other entrepreneurial lawyers, how they can create more pathways for young law students to enter into these fields of practice.

 

Geraldine  7:57  
I want to come back to that point, because we have some pathways emerging here in Melbourne, Australia, or in fact, and in other cities in Australia. So I want to come back to that. But before we do, I wanted to continue talking to you about your journey, as you were in Legal Aid, you saw what was happening, and then you had your father get ill and pass away during that time. So it must have seemed like an extremely critical, extremely difficult time for you.

 

Jacqueline  8:31  
Very much so. I mean, definitely the hardest time of my life. I had the ability through work, I'm not sure if it necessarily the policy of the organisation or if I just basically walked up to work and would say, my dad's in the hospital, I just got off the phone, I'm going to the airport right now and hand over my stack of cases and they took care of things. So I was able to go back and forth to my home state of Nebraska a number of times to be with my dad and help take care of him. But there was still so much pressure and being in an environment that, you know, I thought I was being hired to do one thing and within six months, they were cutting the program that they had just launched in half, and half of us were moved into direct service instead of impact litigation. And it was a pathway I knew affirmatively, I didn't know what I wanted to practise after graduation, but I knew I didn't want to do that kind of work. I wanted to do systems change work, I wanted to look at the larger picture. So that in itself was demoralising.

 

But the day to day lived experience opened my eyes up to the level of injustice of corruption, of the larger real estate complex in New York, and the impact it has in the role it has in the courts was very demoralising. You know, I had clients who had extremely strong cases, you know, people living with horrendous conditions in their homes. And all the cases came up because of non payment of rent issues, which have, more than half of my clients weren't even responsible for non payment of rent or payment of rent, because they were on city programs that funded and paid their rent. So it was usually just a bureaucratic, technical issue that happened, that the payments weren't getting over to the landlord. But I had clients who had these very strong cases, and the other side would be in contempt of court. Over and over again, I had a case where the other side was in contempt of court 11 times, and the judge just kept adjourning and extending it and would not make a decision and would not enforce any of the consequences. And I had a judge on the record, say to me, I don't care what the law says, I'm not applying that here. And I said, but it's, this isn't a matter of opinion, it's this very clear, simple, direct, a simple issue. If this is the case, then this is the consequence. We all know and agree this happened. This is the consequence that has to occur. I don't care, I'm not applying that law, I had another judge tell me, I'm not going to look at your motion. You can try to submit it, but I'm not even going to read it, I'm not going to rule on it at all, I'm not going to pay attention to whatever motion you want to file. And this was when I first got the case 20 minutes ago, and had just come on and wanted to adjourn to be able to meet with my client and figure out what was happening.

 

So these kinds of issues, and that's really just at the smaller end and not even at the systemic end of what's happening in New York City Housing Boards, were situations I had never anticipated in law school witnessing, I thought the role of judges is an honourable role and position that yes, there are issues and injustices. But maybe these are far and few between. And it really opened my eyes to seeing not only how prevalent and kind of ever present, this is in our current system, but also how much there's a lack of creativity, a lack of meaningful solutions. I was dissuaded by my own organisation to pursue certain aspects of my clients rights, saying, you know, we don't want to create, make any waves, we don't want to mess things up. We don't want to cause conflict in the courts with the other side. I was told not to appeal cases. So it was really a horrible backdrop.

 

Geraldine  13:20  
Yeah.

 

Jacqueline  13:20  
In the midst of going through these years of my father's declining health, and passing, you know, it's not a situation of having a very supportive, fulfilling, meaningful environment around you. It was very saddening, and to me, the worst part was my clients who I cared deeply about, would be so thankful to me, because I would sit down and listen to their story. And it hurt me and angered me about the world that this amount of respect, these people are due inherently, you know, they shouldn't be thanking me for that what they should be thanking me for, is fixing the conditions in their home or solving the case or getting them out of the eviction, whatever the situation is, and that was not happening systemically. So it was a difficult experience.

 

Geraldine  14:18  
So you had come out of law school into what you would think is the pathway to making change. And you found yourself right in the most corrupt elements of it, just the opposite of what you thought, which is probably the third lesson you know, so after the awareness after the pathway, the third is that once we find a pathway, we all also need to be committed to making the systemic change in some way. 

 

Jacqueline  14:48  
Yeah, yeah. That's basically what motivated me. You know, my father had passed away. I had kept working and just got to a point that I couldn't perpetuate what was happening in that system anymore, I could not be a part of that. I could not uphold my professional duties in the way I see them by continuing in that position, and I realised I had to get out and do something else. And in discovering what is that other thing I'm going to do, realised I want to create meaningful solutions. I want to help entrepreneurs, people who are creating something in the world, because working in crisis work, you know, I'm an empath. It was very emotionally draining for me, it was very, very difficult. And I realised I need to be in a different setting to make use of my skill or my strengths.

 

Geraldine  15:57  
Yeah, compassion fatigue, is, you know, once you start to care about your clients, we don't have skills to protect ourselves because law isn't even seen as a compassionate profession to begin with. So we're never even taught those skills. So you started your own firm. But before we get into that, I wanted to touch on what I was referring to earlier as an alternative pathway that's growing up here in Australia. And I was, wanted to explore if you see that happening in New York, where you are, which is the NewLaw firm. We call it NewLaw as an as an alternative to traditional law firms. And we've had at least, you know, two or three practitioners have either set up their own firms or with others set up their own firms where they have no billable hours, where it's a relatively flat structure, open plan office, there's at least one firm 100% flexible working. So are there those models in New York or in the States where when people are coming out of law school and looking for an option to to the blue chip, Wall Street law firms, they can try these firms?

 

Jacqueline  17:14  
Yeah, I mean, we have a lot of conversations around values-based billing. You know, I mentioned this before we started of, it's not so much the regulators that are starting the conversations, but private attorneys that are shifting the way and the question of hourly billing is a very commonly discussed issue. I'm a member of the Senior Lawyers Committee at the New York City Bar Association. And they're working on a white paper right now on the effects of hourly billing on mental health.

 

Geraldine  17:47  
Yeah.

 

Jacqueline  17:47  
And the connect there. So those kinds of things are being questioned. But right now, the pathways for students graduating is still very much you can go into BigLaw, you can go into a small-medium private practice, general practice, or personal injury kind of business or you can go into public interest, which means non-profit legal services. There's not a lot of conversation about the other opportunities out there. 

 

Geraldine  18:23  
Okay.

 

Jacqueline  18:24  
That's actually one of the things that I'm working on through my think tank law firm is why does that happen, right? So it's not just about okay, well, let's increase the pathways or the opportunities, it's taking a step back and saying, well, wait, why aren't these existing, because we know there's law firms and other organisations that are doing things totally different. But a lot of times, those are solo practitioners, or they're organisations that don't typically advertise their positions in places that we're used to seeing them or they're not going to career fairs. And so I'm looking at how do we simplify the complexity around hiring? How do we have more fair valuing of labour and work where we're paying interns, where we're looking globally as well and figuring out how can we collaborate now that everything's digital and remote? How do we collaborate with all these incredibly creative people who are randomly spread around the world? And how do we bring those people in? And a lot of the questions that I myself faced and a lot of my colleagues faces, logistically to go from zero to one employees is extremely difficult. And once you have one employee, it's a lot easier. Similarly, going from zero international employees or independent contractors is very complicated, going zero to one. But then once you have the one, it's very easy to implement out from there. And so I'm trying to figure out, here's the underlying gist of it, here's how to simply understand it, here's the resources, here's the steps you need to take, here's what it's going to cost. But here's what you can gain, and then start connecting people. And doing that within my own firm. This semester, I'm going to be bringing on one of my law students, actually, from a previous class I taught, is going to start working with me. And there's a couple other people one in Pakistan and one in Nigeria that I'm looking to collaborate with. And this also comes into the question right, when you're talking about the NewLaw system, or the integrative law movement, how we're transforming work, is about this idea of employee, of hierarchy, of a traditional organisational system, not quite lining up with a self-managed Teal organisational structure, and how do we mock up against the existing regulations, tax consequences, payment systems, and the various fees and costs involved there? You know, I dream of having something where we just have this collective web of independent contractors.

 

Geraldine  21:25  
Yeah. 

 

Jacqueline  21:25  
And everyone just comes together and collaborates and separates and comes together and separates. And that way people can just work however they want. But there's also there's real life consequences, right? You need to make sure that you're, you know, within the US we have social security, if you're not documenting your work in a way that the IRS recognises, you're not counting those years of work towards your social security benefits. And that can have an impact. So it's, this is... 

 

Geraldine  21:56  
Systemic.

 

Jacqueline  21:57  
Yeah, this is why we've got to take a systems view, and understanding these things and why I'm working to try to simplify like, there's 100 different streams, let's figure out what they are. Let's make it clear in plain language for people to understand and make it possible for them to implement the solutions.

 

Geraldine  22:16  
Fantastic. So congratulations on your growth. I wanted to actually move into Legally Unconventional, which is the brand that you work under in your law firm. So the work you're describing is it's legal plus a think tank. So is that right? You do both.

 

Jacqueline  22:38  
I do legal work where I'm acting as an attorney. I'm licensed in New York and Nebraska. And then most of my work is really business consulting, or Conscious Contracts® consulting, where I work in collaboration with clients who have attorneys, or I work together with the clients and then send them off to an attorney in their local area after that, and then the legal innovation and legal tech side, that's sort of the think tank arm of this.

 

Geraldine  23:07  
So the Conscious Contracts®. I've had Kim on, as I've mentioned, and she explained what Conscious Contracts® are. And I've had a couple of practitioners as well. So could you tell me a little bit about the, you know, how you practise it? Well, first of all, how long it took you to learn it with Kim's program, and then become a trainer as well? And then what the practice of it looks like when you're dealing with clients and Conscious Contracts®?

 

Jacqueline  23:36  
Yeah, well, I'd say I probably spent a solid year from my first introduction to starting to co-teach. But time is also like compressed and expanding in strange ways these days. 

 

Geraldine  23:53  
I agree.

 

Jacqueline  23:57  
The way that I practise is mostly with business partners, entrepreneurs setting up their new businesses, start-up organisations, or consulting with existing companies that have a core team or core group of people. And oftentimes people come to me and say, you know, oh, can you review this contract? Or I'm creating a client contract or I have a vendor contract, you know, what do I include? And we sort of take a step back, and this is what I teach all my students as well because they say, what is the point of a contract? You know, Conscious Contracts® often when people especially lawyers first hear about it is this sort of New Age hippie-dippy, fluffy, kind of thing? Yeah, that's nice. Let's talk about values. But to me, it's a really hard-core critical component of the contract relationship and the process of having parties fulfil their agreements to each other. Because when we look at the purpose of a contract, we are entering into a relationship. Because both sides want to accomplish some goal, some solution, they want to exchange something, they want to receive an offer or something on either end, and they're seeing this as a valuable reason.

 

Even in divorce and family law, both parties coming to this agreement, are wanting to figure out a path forward, and they want to come to agreement over this divorce. And so when you're looking at a Conscious Contract®, you're looking at something that's talking about the relationship of the parties, why are we here? How did we come to this place? What is important to us? How are we going to use this to guide our decisions as we go forward? And you know, this comes up a lot for me with businesses is, once you create this foundational document, which we call the touchstone, every decision you make in your business, do I take on this client? Do I hire that vendor? Do I hire this employee? Do I go with this company for my software services or not? You're going to look to that touchstone and see what is important to us, what decisions have we need in alignment with this organisation? And which is the right choice in reference to that. And so that's called that touchstone is that guidepost of comparing here's what we know to be true, what we want, what we envision. Okay, here's the decision, the options, does this match up or not? And then we have the ACED component of the Conscious Contract®, addressing change and engaging disagreement. And we just talked with our students last week about this, how the word conflict is not in this. 

 

Geraldine  26:49  
Yep. 

 

Jacqueline  26:49  
But it's kind of a conflict provision. And it's intentional, I think that the word conflict doesn't show up there. Because we're talking about usually a contract, people are scared, they say, this is my piece of paper, you signed on the dotted line, you owe me this, okay? So I can, you know, bully you with this paper, and then maybe get what I want. Or my only option is litigation, say, Well, now I'm going to sue you. And the court's gonna say you sign here, you need to give this. Um, we have alternative dispute resolution, mediation, arbitration, okay, so we can go a step back, and you go to the mediator and say, you signed here, none of that really helps like that so much time, money, expense, and it's allowing small tensions to escalate, until the point that it boils over that it's worth going to somebody else. There's all these things that don't get talked about during these contract relationships. And instead, what we're creating with the ACED is, how are you going to communicate with each other throughout this relationship? How are you going to identify those small tension points and say, hey I'm noticing, you know, we have a client who says, noticing a disturbance in the Force. And that's what they say to each other. And that's their, you know, tagline. And we just had some clients in our clinic that came up with, we want to have a candle conversation. Candles are really important. And so they'll light a candle every time. And that'll help centre around them and they know they need to be present and really talk through something. So we're shifting this from like, a fear, scary, threatening thing to how do we communicate, like how do we have relationships with each other, and that builds a more sustainable foundation.

 

Geraldine  28:43  
And because you've had the pre agreement, that when these things happen, you both understand that you're working towards protecting the touchstone there's a safe space, that's great, lighting the candle is a beautiful way of expressing it. That or whatever catchword, catchphrase is used. So people come into that conversation without without their guard up, necessarily, you know, prepared to listen.

 

Jacqueline  29:14  
Yeah, I just had an ACED conversation with a student today actually. And it's so great for me to give the students a chance to experience it themselves. Because they come in and they're nervous and scared. And we always say before, I'm like, this is for us to collaborate to help you succeed. This isn't about punishment, you know, like this, that you're not like, being called in to talk to the professor. Oh, no, what's going wrong, but it is a way to discuss challenging situations or to name an elephant in the room, some things come up that you know, we need to address and I'm having that conversation where you're sitting down and asking like how are you feeling right now? What's going on in your life? Like, I know we're here to talk about this, we'll get to that. But what's going on right now in life? What is life like for you? That's connecting like human to human, spirit to spirit. We all realise, we have these lives, you know, I just apologised to my students. Last week I, I've moved to New Jersey, from New York, just two weeks ago. And I said, you know, I haven't been getting things up on the blackboard or putting in grades completely over the past two weeks, I've been delayed, but it's always in relationship and connection to being vulnerable and honest, modelling that to the students. This is what it is to show my whole life, my whole self. And this is what it is to take accountability and responsibility.

 

Geraldine  30:54  
And that teaching is that's with the Quinnipiac University School of Law. 

 

Jacqueline  30:59  
Yes. yeah. Yeah.

 

Geraldine  31:01  
So how long have you been teaching there?

 

Jacqueline  31:04  
This is my fourth semester teaching.

 

Geraldine  31:06  
Wow. So you are also creating that change through teaching, which is amazing. I wanted to ask you, what your peers think of the path where, you had to carve out for yourself, because there were none, as we talked about.

 

Jacqueline  31:29  
I'm laughing because one, the conversations don't come up that frequently or as frequently as I would like, maybe it's so easy for people to lose touch. But there are certain moments, I can remember, you know, recent conversations I've had with peers, the conversations I had when I've just launched my own practice, and even the conversations in law school about, you know, my dreams and ideas of what I actually wanted to do. And there's a pretty common thread of scepticism throughout. I'm actually surprised. Maybe I shouldn't be that practitioners who have more years of experience are more open and engaging with my path, then those who are just right out of the gate, you know, three, four or five years of practice. You know, people think, I get congrats, like, oh, that's so cool. So you're running your own firm. That's cool, you know, but there's not a lot of engagement with the fact of the non traditional aspect. And when there is, it's often almost as though oh, that works for you, but like not really in the real world. And there, there is a huge amount of privilege in the path I've taken, right, like I could not have quit my job at Legal Aid, had I not had a supporting partner who financially supported me through this transition. That's a significant amount of privilege. And I'm always honest with my students, whenever I give them career advice, and we talk explicitly about the huge costs of law school, and the amount of student loan debt. I'm also privileged that my law school, NYU supports me in this work through their student loan program. They have a repayment program for public interest focused students. And when I decided I needed to quit my job and launch I spoke to them and talked about the kind of access to justice work I wanted to do. And they said, yeah, we support you, we're going to qualify this for the program. And so they're helping to pay my student loans and reduce the amount of debt I have. So this is not, my particular path is not necessarily open for everyone. But my goal, and my aim is to create those pathways, and educate those lawyers of us who have firms who are in positions of power, who are hiring, to shift the way that we're adding new employees to shift the way that we engage with people and hire them so that students can have a real opportunity to get paid employment within directly within the integrative law movement right after graduation.

 

Geraldine  34:18  
Yeah, that's vital, isn't it? Because you're quite right. And I've had feedback given to me from lawyers who are younger, who look at my path and it's almost sort of more acceptable to have done it having gone through the traditional law path, and then retired from big law and set up your own niche practice or whatever it's almost seen as like, okay, you can do that now. Because you've done your time and you've, you know what, you've got the resources to do it through all of the time you spent kneeling at the altar of BigLaw. So I get that right. And it's actually not the healthiest way to look at, it's not like you have to serve your time, you know, be chained. And then once you've done that you're released, there has to be a way to, first of all create more alternatives through the sorts of law firms that I was talking about. And then really put pressure on the source of a lot of this. A lot of the problems that we have with mental well being and so on, which is the culture, the culture at large law firms, as well as the culture within other large organisations who hire lawyers, whether it's government, as was your experience, or not -for-profits, large not-for-profits, or large corporates, it's actually the same, lawyers go in there with the same mindset.

 

Jacqueline  35:47  
That's a lot of the work that we do in the clinic. And that's why I think expanding these law school clinics across, you know, there, there are things happening all around the world. And we're hoping to also expand across the US more, but it's so critical to impact the law school experience, because that's we're working at transforming this world out there in the existing big law firms and big organisations. But if we can create the pathways, where there could be some sustainable pathways for success for students to start out at and make that really viable, we need to make sure during law school, they're not getting programmed for BigLaw. And that's basically what we see in our clinic. And that's a lot of the work we do is addressing mental health, wellness, balance, sustainability, like, how do you operate in a way that fulfils you and allows you to thrive and not just barely survive? Because it's not going to change once they get into their career.

Geraldine  36:55  
One of the issues we have in Australia is there's this concept of 11 subjects, we call it the Priestley 11, because Priestley was the the person who identified these 11 core subjects that you need to really have under your belt, pass to become a lawyer. Now, it's things like contracts, torts, property equity, evidence, civil procedure, etc, etc. And that's the focus. And I did when I went to law school, I did a semester, which is half a year of ethics and trust accounts. And it was like, it was one of the 11. But it was the, it really seemed like an easy pass, you know, something that you just had to do, and there wasn't a lot of focus on that element of practice. I don't know whether you have something similar.

 

Jacqueline  37:47  
In here. Now, professional responsibility is very much seen that way by most students, as this is the easiest class, this one the last things I need to graduate and then be done with it. And yeah, everybody knows how to be a good person. Don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal. Got it. You know, and I, in launching my own practice, I've realised how complex and convoluted the regulations around legal ethics are, and how much of a barrier they are to creative practice and even non creative, just traditional in house lawyer practice. There are so many issues with interstate, international advising when you have businesses that have customers all over the world, where do you have to be licenced to represent client and advise them? Do you have to get attorneys in each state in each country that they're going to be selling? You know, these are inefficiencies that I don't think they anticipated when these laws were promulgated, or the statutes were promulgated. And yet, they're not being looked at clearly. Now, there's some movement and there's a lot of, there's some great advocacy groups working on this. But a lot needs to shift and change there. And I just feel, you know, with, with those core subjects, I've recently started looking into apprenticeships, there's like four or five states in the US where students can apprentice with a lawyer instead of going to law school, or after one year of law school practice, they can do that. And I'm really curious about this to see if maybe we can build up some programme because when we teach our clinic we're basically teaching our students an entire law school curriculum of how to be a lawyer. You know, we're not just teaching them negotiations and contracts and client interviewing and client work, but you know, how do you run a practice? How do you consult and professional ethics and the Internet, issues that come up and communication issues that come up and are teaching so many skills around this, that it becomes quite a jam-packed course. And, you know, realising if we could have a law school program where students would get more of that experience that mentorship and be able to choose along the way along the path. You know, maybe we're heading there, I think the traditional general practice perspective, you know, whatever walks in the door, I think that was based on litigation of you need to know property, civ-pro, crim law, you know, all of these things, because that's what's gonna walk through your door when you graduate from here and go start your practice. And very few students do that at this point.

 

Geraldine  40:56  
Yeah, it's there's a growing awareness, that law school that I graduated from Monash has now a clinical guarantee. So they're actually guaranteeing that every single law student that goes through them is going to get a semester in a clinic. So there is an awareness but that's one step. And I think, what you're getting at you know, how, much you can learn in a practical clinic semester, is actually worth many other units of sitting in a, in a lecture theatre, or these days at your computer.

 

Jacqueline  41:30  
Our clinic is fully virtual. So everything is done over computer. And I've actually, my practice is completely virtual as well. And I just have found to me, I can connect so much deeper, and with so many more people and collaborate in such a better way than when I was focused on in person practice. Because truly, the world is open to us now. Things get to experience they have clients from all around the world. And I think it's really an incredible value that sometimes we forget about. 

 

Geraldine  42:10  
Jacqueline, thank you so much for sharing your time with us. This has been a wonderful conversation and I've learned so much. 

 

Jacqueline  42:18  
Thank you. It's really been a pleasure to be on here. I'm honoured to be a part of this and I can't wait to see what else comes up on your flyer. Thank you
.

 

 

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