“Families are complicated business” might as well be the understatement of a century, especially when you take into account the documentation and law-work that goes into having one.
We’re talking birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce papers, property settlement and a whole slew of anxiety inducing terms that most people just can’t do themselves.
How lucky we are then, that there is a class of professionals entirely dedicated to helping families by lending their legal expertise in such matters, sometimes in the most delicate situations.
Sharni Mwenda, the guest for episode 45 of the personal branding exposed podcast is one of such professionals, a children’s lawyer who works independently to defend what are some of the most vulnerable members of society.
On this episode we talked about her work as a children’s lawyer along with her up and coming law firm, “align Family law”, which will be focused in helping couples through separation. Here’s how that went:
Between Flowers and Families
Now, helping people through divorce may not seem like your average teenager’s dream career, but Sharni recalls how she knew from a very young age that advocacy was likely to become a part of her future.
“ Funnily enough I actually did want to be a lawyer at fifteen, it’s one of those things where I’m not sure whether it was my parents idea initially or my idea, but I remember, for instance, that for as long as possible I either wanted to be a lawyer or a florist.”
She then went on to explain that while her parent’s did push her towards the “lawyer side”, even though she loved flowers, their part on her career choice was less one of pressure and more one of enrichment
This participation happened in the form of them feeding their daughters voracious appetite for books from a very young age, as they were readers themselves, that and her natural skills as a debater, even though she argued that was not a big part of what she did.
Fiction x Reality
Speaking of what Sharni does, it is very common for the only examples most people have of legal practice to come from fiction, be it books, tv series movies or other forms of entertainment.
This sparked in me the curiosity to know how close these representations of lawyers got close to the real thing, and having Sharni on the other side of the screen was the perfect opportunity to have it sated.
“A lot of people have this image that we are like Suits (the TV series), you know, in these amazing offices, storming into the courtroom, and family law is nothing like that, and if it is like that, they’re probably doing it wrong.”
As Sharni then explained, much like any other profession that gets a turn under the spotlight, advocacy is highly glamorized on TV and that her particular area of activity is “very emotionally draining”, as it often pertains to families in delicate situations.
But in this, she also says, there is also a great payback in seeing a child get adopted, or someone who went through separation come out on top.
Helping People at Their Weakest
Naturally, from there our conversation flowed into the field of family law and all the inherent human complexity tied to it that makes Sharni’s as hard as it is admirable.
“ A lot of the issues that we’re dealing with are really intimate personal data, when I have a client come to speak to me, generally they’ve just separated, and this is whether it’s their decision to separate or it’s not.”
As a family lawyer, Sharni is there at some of the most significant moments in peoples lives, be it the dissolution of a marriage, the introduction of a new member to a family, the execution of the will of one who has passed away.
All of these situations require a more personal and human approach from the lawyer who, according to Sharni, has to appear more approachable in return.
Advice For Those in Need
Divorce is never easy, and though I hope that you, my reader and listener never has to go through it, I also understand that there is likely to be people in my audience went, or are going through this arduous journey.
So, with this in mind, later on in our conversation, before I could say goodbye to Sharni, I asked her if there were any tips or advice to give people involved in separation of any kind.
This is what she had to say:
“Really have a think about what it is that you think would work for your family in a way that isn’t just “well, this is what I want and the other person will have to agree.” Have a think about your reasonings behind what it is that you think might be a way through this.”
She also advised for anyone going through a process of separation to take into account the long and short term effects this would have on your life, and if you are a parent, on the lives of your children.
That is to say, separation is never an easy process and its effects can ripple for years, so if you are in a situation where you must consider it, think it through very carefully.
Sharni Mwenda is a fascinating woman with a fascinating line of work that is tied with the very essence of modern life, and I never would have met her were it not for her use of social media and her willingness to make herself known.
If you would like to do the same as her and broadcast who you are and what you do to the world, you are likely to see opportunities, not just to star guest in podcasts, but also to grow your business and career.
Then, why not start off this new enterprise on the right foot by contacting me in any of my social media, or even through this very website for a full coaching program on personal branding to learn how to unlock the full power of social media?