In the third interview of our series for International Women’s Day, we chat to Catherine Leach; Managing Director of Leach Legal. Leach Legal is one of Perth’s leading law firms, specialising in family law.
In the spirit of supporting International Women’s Day 2019, we’ve interviewed some of Australia’s most influential #girlbosses to get an insight into the life of a successful female entrepreneur.
In the third interview of our series for International Woman’s Day, we chat with Catherine Leach; Managing Director of Leach Legal. Leach Legal is one of Perth’s leading law firms, specialising in family law.
Tell us how Leach Legal started?
My first chosen career was psychology. I started at uni studying psychology, but after six months, decided that that wasn't for me and I moved to teaching. I did that for two years, and then was desperate to get out of teaching. I was cleaning offices as my summer job and during that time, I met a lawyer whilst cleaning his office, and thought “I wouldn’t mind doing law!”
I stumbled upon a special scheme that said if you could get a job in two weeks, you can be part of it. So, I applied for jobs at law firms in Bunbury (that’s where I went to school), and within two weeks, I moved from Perth to Bunbury to start a career in law. I worked full time and studied law part time. I got admitted, then became a partner in my firm, then went out and started my own firm.
What has been your biggest challenge?
I think my biggest challenges have probably been similar to any business, in that in order to grow and develop, you've got to take risk. My life has been a lot of standing on cliffs and jumping. It gets scarier the more you go on because the cliffs get bigger and the realization that you are the sole supporter of not only your own immediate family, but as your work force grows, all of those people and their families. It can be a bit overwhelming at times. I think always trying to second guess whether you made the right decision in the direction that you take in a business is always really challenging.
Who were your role models in your business career?
In order to grow and develop, you've got to take risks.
There's a really senior family lawyer who's now retired who I really looked up to her. She was very strong. She was very scary, actually, but she ran her own firm. I admired her, and thought if she can do it, so can I. Also, I was very lucky in the firm I worked in when I was admitted as there were two female partners there who were just great mentors and role models that really helped me.
How do you manage your work/life balance?
When my husband and I decided to have children, he had just finished studying so it made sense that he would stay home and look after our kids and that I would work. That's been our regimen. So, for 16 years, he's been a full-time home dad and I've worked full-time since they were about three, four weeks old. That's how we balance it. It's been a great arrangement.
What tips do you have for any women out there thinking of starting their own business?
I think high achieving women tend to be perfectionists, and so they want everything to be perfect. That's their nature, and I learned really early on that you can't control everything. You either do it all yourself, or you have constant arguments, or you make changes, or you just accept that you can control your own work that you do. So I had that realisation to just let go of the things that don’t matter.
Female entrepreneur/female partner or entrepreneur/partner. How does that sit with you?
It's never been an issue, until probably the last couple of years. For some reason, I was in the industry and I just did what I did, and the female stamp didn’t really matter. I think the only difference now is that I do want to be recognised as a female entrepreneur, because I see younger women who need to have an example and to know what's possible. It’s possible to be a female, be a mum, be a wife, and to still have a career. So yes, I am a woman. I am a female entrepreneur. I am a female partner. It’s all possible.
What legacy do you want to leave behind?
It’s occurred to me throughout my career just how important it is to push women through the bottom level, and say “right, where do you want to get to?” and supporting them with their goals. I want to be the person to say I’ve done this myself, and I’m here to take you through a step-by-step process to help you achieve your dream. Having the right structure and support in place is so important, and I want to be that mentor for other women.
International Women’s Day – what does it mean to you?
Being a predominantly female team, we live and breathe the IWD movement day in, day out. It’s about creating an environment where people can have kids and work part time and have flexible hours. It’s about showing women that you can do it all, so I guess for me personally, it’s about being a mentor to younger women who are just starting out in their careers or are new mums.
Fantastic insight into the life of one of Perth’s leading family lawyers. To find out more about Catherine and her team, check out Leach Legal.
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