60-second interview with Natalie Silvester
What does your firm or employer do?
Mullins is a commercial law firm based in Brisbane, with an established wills and estates practice. For staff, Mullins is known as being a ‘lifestyle’ firm and for clients, it promises to provide services that are ‘more than law’.
What has STEP done for you, individually, or as an organisation?
I became a STEP member when I had approximately 3-4 years' post admission experience and the education provided by STEP helped me identify and achieve new goals related to my profession. I have completed a Masters of Applied Law (wills and estates) through Australia’s College of Law (partly to upgrade my membership from Affiliate to TEP) and partly to further my own education. I have also become an accredited specialist in succession law.
What is the most important thing STEP does, in your opinion?
I would say its education programme.
What made you decide to volunteer at STEP?
As someone who has benefited first hand from the mentoring and guidance provided through the STEP community, I wanted to contribute to STEP Queensland’s education offering to our members. I believe the best way we can lift the standards of practice is by furthering the education of practitioners.
What would you say to other members considering volunteering?
It’s very satisfying to both learn from, and contribute to the development of colleagues.
Your branch has run some online events recently. How did they go, and do you have any recommendations to share?
The online events have definitely been successful. There are a large number of female practitioners in succession law who previously might not have been able to come to some events because of family commitments, so this has given them new opportunities. In addition, Queensland is such a large area that it has been really good to be able to include more regional practitioners in our events.
Do you have any upcoming events to look out for?
I'm looking forward to the STEP Queensland Annual Conference as last year’s was cancelled due to COVID-19. I also really enjoy the roundtable conferences, because some of the best legal minds in this area get together and discuss a particular topic, and it is fascinating to listen to different points of view.
What do you most like about your job, and what do you feel is most worthwhile?
Being able to assist clients navigate the challenges that can arise in estate matters makes it so worthwhile. Clients are usually suffering from profound grief, and being able to help them in their time of need is what has drawn me to practise in this area of law.
What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?
I really enjoy succession law and so I would say to a young person to definitely go for it, as it is really diverse and challenging!
What do you feel are the main challenges facing your organisation/practitioners at the moment, and how will you deal with them?
The area of law is growing exponentially, particularly as we see baby boomers starting to pass away and their significant wealth transferred to the next generation. Only a limited number of qualified professionals have the requisite experience to deal with the complexities that will arise. I’d like to use my platform as a STEP Queensland Committee member to help equip the generation of practitioners coming up through the ranks to deal with these particularly challenging matters.
Which social media channels do you use and why?
I use LinkedIn professionally, and belong to a couple of Facebook groups designed for women working in succession law.