In a recent episode of our podcast, I had the pleasure of welcoming Lauren Cassimatis, the principal lawyer and director of Gallant Law, the founder of Connecting Lawyer Mums, and an ambassador for She Inspires Me Australia. Lauren’s journey is a testament to her innate leadership skills, her passion for problem-solving, and her commitment to community wellbeing.
Born to Lead
Every leader has a story, and Lauren’s began in her childhood. When asked about her first experience of leadership, she recalled an incident from when she was just five or six years old. She found an injured sparrow in her school playground and took charge, leading a group of 50 children to ensure the bird received help. This early experience showcased Lauren’s natural inclination to care for others and educate them on the importance of empathy and action.
A Problem Solver at Heart
As an adult, Lauren’s leadership skills have only grown. Her personality is characterised by a desire to solve problems, find solutions, and take risks. Even as a junior lawyer, she found herself initiating projects and strategies.
During her second maternity leave, Lauren experienced an identity crisis, feeling disconnected from her profession. This led her to create Connecting Lawyer Mums, a network for women to maintain a connection to their profession while on leave or working from home. The network provides opportunities to share experiences and regain self-confidence.
Advocating for Rehabilitation and Prevention
Lauren, a criminal lawyer, strongly believes in the importance of rehabilitation and prevention of crime in promoting community wellbeing and safety. She argues that punitive measures often do more harm than good. She is proud to support Success Works, an organisation that helps women get back on track and contribute to society.
The Birth of Connecting Lawyer Mums
Connecting Lawyer Mums, initially known as Criminal Law Mums, started with Lauren sharing relatable stories on Instagram. The response from other women was overwhelming, leading to the organisations first networking evening, which saw a surprising turnout of 30 women. This success motivated Lauren to continue organising events centered around resilience, imposter syndrome, and other topics related to wellbeing and empowerment. Within six months, the organisation grew to include over 400 members, prompting the expansion to include lawyers from different areas of law.
Building a Community
Lauren is grateful for the support she has received from the community in organising events. She mentions Michelle Boundy, who helped her source the venue, and a neuropsychologist from the Gold Coast who connected her with donors for a silent auction. She also mentions a Byron Bay lawyer who has a side hustle in fashion and will be putting on a fashion exhibit at their ceremony next year.
The Impact of Connecting Lawyer Mums
Lauren shares two stories of women who were motivated by Connecting Lawyer Mums to start their own law firms. One woman had self-doubt and felt stuck in her current workplace, but through Connecting Lawyer Mums, she gained the confidence to start her own firm. The other woman, a single mom, started her own firm after her husband left her, and she found encouragement and support from other Connecting Lawyer Mums members.
Embracing Negative Emotions
Lauren emphasises the importance of accepting and embracing negative emotions while also focusing on positive experiences and support systems. She shares her personal strategies for dealing with difficult days, such as meditating and recalling happy moments.
The Journey to Becoming a Lawyer
Lauren shares her upbringing and the values instilled in her by her father and grandmother. Despite facing discouragement from some teachers who doubted her potential, her father always believed in her and supported her aspirations. She pursued legal studies in high school and fell in love with the subject, eventually getting into law school with her father’s help.
The Values Behind Gallant Law
When Lauren started her firm, it was just her, but she has since grown her team to 14 members. She carefully recruits individuals who share her values and care about their clients and the community. She wants to challenge the misconception that criminal lawyers are rogues who cause trouble in the community.
The Importance of Believing in Your “Why”
Lauren emphasises the importance of believing in your “why.” Understanding why you want to lead, why you want to make a difference, and why you want to pursue your goals is crucial. For Lauren, her overarching why is to show people, especially her children, what women are capable of and the power of kindness.
In closing, Lauren advises being mindful of the people around you, embracing challenges, and putting oneself out there. She highlights the opportunities provided by modern-day social media and websites to establish connections and build a platform. However, she also emphasises the significance of in-person interactions, as she experienced the impact of meeting someone face-to-face and having her personality leave a lasting impression on others.