LawShorts: Robbins Watson Solicitors' Christine Smyth
“While we might accumulate a great deal of wealth or assets in our lifetime, the greatest thing we will leave behind are the relationships that we’ve created over a lifetime.”
That’s what Christine Smyth has learnt during her time as a Queensland Law Society Accredited Specialist in succession law at Robbins Watson Solicitors. She spends her days helping families and individuals prepare for the inevitable, and to cope with the consequences of being unprepared when tragedy strikes.
Too often Christine is helping people with legal problems that could have easily been avoided by having the difficult conversations before it was too late. This could be working with someone to make sure their will is up to date, putting in place an enduring power of attorney to ensure someone they trust can make important decisions for them if they lose the ability to make their own, or negotiating better outcomes in estate disputes.
“We can do a lot to prevent things happening. But life happens at us. And the sooner you address it, the better your prospects of avoiding negative consequences later on,” she says.
Helping people with their legal issues is the realisation of a childhood dream for Christine. Growing up she knew she wanted to be a lawyer.
“I always thought of a lawyer as being a person who is there to champion the rights of those who can’t champion their own rights,” she says.
“It’s something that has always been quite dear to me.”
It was no easy road to get to where she is today. She juggled her legal studies with jobs as a cocktail attendant, a waitress, and part time work in the legal industry, in order to support herself.
“I was a pretty skilled cocktail bar attendant. I can hold five beers in one hand and continuously pour. I could once spear a keg, but I’m not sure if I could still do that now,” she laughs.
After graduating and working as a lawyer for a few years, Christine took maternity leave in order to care for her children full time - but that didn’t stop her building her legal knowledge.
“In order to bring myself up to speed, I would take my children to swimming lessons and be reading legal text books from cover to cover,” she says.
“While some mothers were reading Women’s Day. I was reading Lee’s Manual of Queensland Succession Law. I’m a fun girl to take to a party.”
Christine is now considered one of Queensland's leading Wills and Estates lawyers and is the Deputy President Elect of the Queensland Law Society.
“There’s a real difficulty in bringing the law, which is very complex, and in a lot of cases quite rigid, and applying it to a very fluid set of circumstances, and apply it to a person’s life,” she says.
“A client's perception of justice is borne of their own life experiences, it's borne of their cultural background, it's borne of their own economic stance, there’s so many aspects that come into it. Trying to help people navigate their way through the system is where I find a great deal of satisfaction.”
If you’re looking for legal advice visit Christine’s LawAdvisor profile where you can request a consultation, or browse a series of articles she’s written to help people deal with common legal issues.