Five minutes with… Sarah Bartholomeusz

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Sarah Bartholomeusz, CEO and senior lawyer at You Legal, tells Australasian Lawyer what she loves about her role.

What made you decide to become a lawyer?
I have worked as a corporate and commercial lawyer for over 12 years now. I always wanted to be a lawyer – I love problem solving and working one-on-one with clients, often at times that they are quite vulnerable to help them to achieve their business goals.  I may also secretly have been inspired by the film, ‘Legally Blonde’, so much so that I have Trade Marked the words!

How long have you worked at You Legal and what brought you to this position?
The firm begun in October 2013. When I was 32 weeks pregnant with my second child, I was made redundant from my job working as an in house lawyer.  The subsidiary of the public company I was engaged by was sold to private equity owners.  The new owners of the company approached me and asked me to work for them as a contractor.  From there, I set up my own boutique law firm specialising in legal consulting.  I started out as an independent, internal lawyer for my clients.  I saw how well it worked for my clients, so I wanted to give the opportunity to other people to work this way! 

What’s the strangest case you’ve ever worked on/been involved with?
I was acting for a real estate agent on a matter which involved a tenant that was renting one of their properties.
The tenant had gotten really drunk and climbed out a second story window on to a pergola - the pergola had then collapsed (as it was not built for people to stand on) and he had fallen through it and broken his arm.

If you could invite three people for dinner, dead or alive and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
  1. Beyonce
  2. Gail Kelly
  3. Naomi Simpson
I find these personalities to be incredibly inspiring women in business - I would love the opportunity to speak and share ideas with them.

You’re based in Adelaide – where’s the best place to go for a drink and/or dinner after work?
Adelaide has many up and coming bars. Pop up bars seem to be the new trend at the moment – there are some great pop up bars along the newly developed Peel and Leigh Streets in the West-End of the city.  2KW is a new rooftop bar which looks over the city – great for dinner and drinks on a Friday night after work!

What’s the best piece of advice (work or personal) you’ve ever been given?
Trust your gut and back yourself.  Making decisions as an entrepreneur can be difficult but only you know the best way forward.  There is no time for self doubt.

Do you have any hobbies/interests outside of work?
I love spending time and going on outings with my two children, and my husband. Being present to them is an important part of my life outside work because I don’t want to miss out on precious time with them while they are still small.
I am also a member of the local Sunday Assembly in SA – a secular congregation that celebrates life. I’m also a board member at Carrington Cottages Management inc – a not for profit that assists homeless men with lodging.  I love to exercise with my friends so we go for early morning walks, or do a class at our local personal training studio together.

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…
A CEO, because I find uniting people to work towards goals as a team so rewarding.

What do you think will be single biggest issue facing the legal space in Australia in 2015?
Clients have become increasingly concerned with the value they are receiving when engaging professional services.  The increased competition in both the Australian and global legal services industry means clients can choose to be more picky. The implications for firms means tailoring their service to fit the client.

If you had Tony Abbott’s job for one day, what would you do?
 1. Make childcare and nannies a tax deduction. At the moment the system is terribly complicated, we have sliding scales and means tests and subsidies and benefits. It should be much simpler and the economic rationale for tax deductible child care is solid; and  
2. Appoint more women to Cabinet.
 
What do you love about your job?
Everything!  I love the flexible working conditions we provide – our firm’s unique structure means the team is able to have greater control over their commitments.  I am grateful for the opportunity to work with a diverse range of clients.  Success to me is helping our clients to meet and achieve their business goals.

What would you change about your job right now if you could?
The business has expanded so rapidly that it has become difficult to oversee every function completely. I would love the superpower to be in more than one place at the same time!

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