Eve is a poster child for creating a flexible workplace. She juggles two kids and her own legal practice, while her husband manages a construction business. In part, this is achievable by living in Mansfield, where the commute times are low and the lifestyle is more relaxed than in the city.
How long have you been in Mansfield?
I grew up in Melbourne but moved to Mansfield nine years ago and haven’t looked back.
My husband’s grandparents had a farm here and his nanna lived here too, so he spent most of his childhood weekends and holidays in Mansfield. Together, we enjoyed time here water-skiing and camping. We were both really busy in Melbourne and wanted a change. We chose Mansfield because it was familiar and comfortable.
How did moving impact your career as a lawyer?
I worked for government agencies in Melbourne in policy development. That kind of work isn’t available in Mansfield, so I found work in private legal practice for a local firm. A complete change for me.
My employer was accommodating when I came back to work after my first child, but I needed more flexibility when I had my second child, so I branched out on my own and set up Foster Legal Lawyers. I work from an office in town three days a week and do the rest from home. My kids are in daycare two days a week and my husband and I juggle the third day depending on workloads and who is available. He’s a builder running his own business (JGF Building & Construction), so we work in with each other really well. Some of my best work happens after the kids have gone to bed at night!
Tell me about Foster Legal Lawyers.
I focus on certain areas of law, because I don’t have any support staff and I work part time. I mainly do conveyancing, estate planning (wills, powers of attorney and medical treatment decision maker appointments), estate administration and probate, and commercial matters (like buying and selling businesses, commercial leases, share transfers, trust deeds, director and shareholder agreements).
I love running my own law practice – it’s hard work, but gives me a lot of job satisfaction. With a laptop and a mobile phone, I can work wherever I am. Recently I did the settlement of a conveyancing matter from a campsite in Rosebud. Settlements are now done electronically, so all I needed was my laptop and an internet connection. It also comes in handy when the kids are sick – I operate from the living room. As long as I’m upfront with clients about my availability and how I work, they are generally understanding.
What are the best things about living in Mansfield?
Mansfield is a beautiful place to live. People are friendly, the lifestyle is relaxed and professionally it doesn’t feel as competitive as Melbourne.
I love the convenience of living 10 mins from work and having everything in town so close by. The local supermarket helps me take the groceries out to the car, which is very handy when trying to wrangle two kids.
The community is strong – everyone pitches in and helps. When my husband was sick a couple of years ago, and I had a two year old and a four-month old, a friend turned up to my house with coffee and dinner. It was such a nice gesture and just what I needed that day.
Have there been any downsides?
There are no secrets in Mansfield – everyone knows everyone. Having said that, I maintain complete professional integrity. What my clients tell me goes no further. Even if I hear a rumour I know to be false, I keep a poker face and don’t correct it.
At the moment, my husband and I are focussed on establishing our businesses and raising our kids. That’s busy enough so I haven’t planned any further. I love my kids, but they are hectic. One day, I look forward to being able to finish a sentence without being interrupted by “Muuuuuuuummm …”
Do you have any advice for people considering a tree change?
It is a different lifestyle but definitely worth it if that is what you’re looking for. Mansfield has something to offer everyone and with technology these days anything is possible.
Next time: my second set of entries for Writers Victoria’s flash fiction competition, Flash Fiction – Stripping the Words Bare, Part 2
Next Mansfield interview: Kelli Virtanen, Wellness coach, Author, Mother