Because of Her, We Can Ebook Female Leader, Leah Cameron said, “My philosophy in business is to do things the right way, not the easy way.”
You started Marrawah Law to ensure that clients were given culturally appropriate legal advice. Why is this important to you?
In my experience it has long been the case that ‘whitefella’ law was the overriding, if not only, factor considered when legal advice was given to First Nations clients. So often the client’s ‘right’ to receive advice, make a decision and voice that decision to their legal advisors on country, and in accordance with their traditional laws and customs, is overlooked. I have also seen firsthand clients bullied or bamboozled into accepting the advice of a solicitor who considered the solicitor knew best when the client never truly understood what was being decided.
As a First Nations person and solicitor I know all too well how important it is for First Nations people to ‘do things the right way, not the easy way’ and to receive top quality legal services. When I established my firm the philosophy was not just to provide culturally appropriate advice and representation but for the advice to be given by people who knew first-hand their experiences and respected the client’s right to speak for themselves and self-determine.
How did your family’s business background influence your own business journey?
When I decided that I wanted to start my own business I considered myself to be totally mad. I didn’t know anything about business. I knew the law!
What I forgot was that generations before had ingrained in me the essentials required to do business. I was like an instant business woman just waiting for the batteries to be inserted. My family’s journey into self-employment was largely driven by social outcasting of Aboriginal people and a lack of opportunities from businesses willing to ‘give us a go’. That meant that my family looked for any and every opportunity. They were jacks and jills of all trades and would do anything to keep the family going.
To me this way of earning an income didn’t fit into what I had been taught to be business or what business people did. We didn’t fit the stereotypical mould. When I reflected on this I realised that my family and many other small business owners had similar backgrounds and that is what made them and us so good at what we were doing:
- We had suffered adversity
- We had very little in the way of money or property and
- We were often ostracised by the wider community and so stuck together as a community for support.
As owner of an award winning, growing legal practice, you provide opportunities for women lawyers. Tell us about the expansion of your business, and the recognition you’ve received.
This year Marrawah Law celebrates its fifth birthday. It currently employs 80% Indigenous staff and 80% women. I am particularly passionate about giving opportunities to women in the legal sector. Unfortunately in the practice of law, work experience remains very much dependent upon ‘who you know’. We are working to change this by offering work experience and mentoring through our firm so our mob can make contacts within the legal profession early on.
How have you creatively differentiated your legal practice in your marketing approach?
From the outset our firm had to market creatively and with a limited budget. We have made the most of social media, particularly Facebook, to really give people an idea of who we are on a personal level, rather than being known as just a lawyer or law firm. Putting ourselves forward as ‘real people’ helps clients identify with us, feel more comfortable engaging with us and they are comfortable referring others to us. We are getting more bang for our buck in a shorter period with social media than with traditional marketing methods.
The National Because of Her, We Can Ebook is a tribute to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Right across Australia there are endless examples of strong and successful Indigenous women leading the way. This Ebook shines a light on 12 of our country’s Indigenous women, including four Queenslanders, who are leading and succeeding in business. These women show the strength, resilience, hard work, creativity and intelligence that are crucial elements in business success. Their stories, journeys and the lessons learned are as diverse as they are, but all offer inspirational advice.
The Honourable Di Farmer MP
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
You are the female economy. Whether you are a female consumer, business owner, a woman in the workforce or a stay-at-home Mum, you can create gender equality by choosing female led brands.