Dream Believe Create is an online magazine for women entrepreneurs, creatives and change-makers. It’s for women who want to start sustainable, mission-driven businesses or creative practices without sacrificing their principles and avoiding the profit-at-any-cost / business-as-usual model that we’re all so tired of.

Interview: Clarissa Rayward

Interview: Clarissa Rayward

In this most recent in our series of interviews celebrating International Women’s Day 2017, we spoke with Clarissa Rayward.  Clarissa is the Director of Brisbane Family Law Centre and is also known as the Happy Family Lawyer.  She is a Divorce Lawyer and specialises in helping separating families stay out of the Family Courts, and stay friends!

Welcome Clarissa, please tell us about your background and the things that stand out for you as bold actions that have led to where you are now:

Over the last 14 years I have worked as a specialist family lawyer and in that time, I have helped over 2,000 Australian families through their divorce.

That experience has shown me that the traditional legal processes do little to help families find a positive future after divorce.  It takes more than lawyers and Courts to help families through divorce and separation in a way that ensures a positive end to a marriage.

For this reason, in 2008 I established Brisbane Family Law Centre, a multidisciplinary practice where lawyers work alongside counsellors and financial planners to ensure that our clients receive the holistic support they need at this challenging time.

I think starting my firm was in hindsight the first ‘bold action’ that has led me to where I am now.  I was 30 at the time and I can safely say now, that I had no idea what I was in for but it largely has been an exciting adventure.  From the outset, I set up a law firm that offers multidisciplinary legal solutions.  Over the past 4 years I have focused on niching the firm to work with separating families who are seeking to resolve the legal aspects of divorce in a calm and considered manner.  The firm is not a ‘typical law firm’.  We provide fixed price products of our clients in an industry that still thrives on the ‘billable hour’.  We have developed an array of accessible online products to offer separating families the information they need at this difficult time in their lives.  We are now able to assist clients all over Australia from our offices in Brisbane.

In 2015 I published my first book, ‘Splitsville- How to separate, stay out of Court and stay friends’ which is now stocked in bookstores nationwide.

At the end of 2013 I started a blog- ‘The Happy Family Lawyer’- when I was struggling myself with my career in law.  What began as my weekly ramblings has fast become a popular resource centre for families navigating the legal aspects of their divorce and separation.  My stories on divorce have now been read almost 100,000 times.   As I began to share my thoughts on themes like relationships, love, heartbreak and happiness I found many other lawyers reaching out to me, also sharing their own disillusionment with their careers in law.

In late 2016 I launched a new venture ‘Happy Lawyer, Happy Life’ in response to the growing number of lawyers looking for better ways of finding ‘Happiness’ in their careers. I started with a podcast, ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’ where I interview lawyers on a weekly basis opening a positive dialogue about maintaining a career in law and a fulfilled life outside of law. This year I have published my second book ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life - How to be happy in Law and Life’ to provide further resources for legal professionals seeking fulfilling careers and happiness both in law and in their life outside of the law.

How did you learn how to be successful in business? Did you access any coaching or business education of any kind and would you recommend that to other women starting out in business today?

I am always learning and take every opportunity I can to learn in business every day.  I did engage a business coach who has worked with me over my nine years of running my firm.  I do recommend engaging a coach/advisor or even a team of advisors.  Running a business can be lonely and when you are managing a team it can be hard to know whether a decision you want to make is right or wrong.  Having an advisor that understands your vision and goals and can keep you accountable is really helpful both in the good times and those more challenging moments.

What changes or new projects are planned for you in 2017? 

This year has started with some pace thanks to the release of my second book ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life - How to be happy in law and life’ and a series of online course for Lawyers.

I am continuing to grow my legal practice with a plan to license the model in other parts of Australia in the coming years.


Interview by Gretchen Hillhouse 2017

You can find out more, or contact Clarissa at www.thehappyfamilylawyer.com


Interview: Daniele Mantovani

Interview: Daniele Mantovani

Interview: Sarah Rogers

Interview: Sarah Rogers