As we continue to celebrate International Women’s Day for the month of March, we welcome our next guest Fiona Kirkman, FamilyProperty CEO & Co-Founder, who is an advocate for women in legal technology and educating the next generation of family lawyers and mediators.
Fiona Kirkman is an Accredited Specialist in Family Law, Nationally Accredited Mediator, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner and Collaborative Professional. As the Principal of Kirkman Family Law and co-founder and CEO of the legal software product FamilyProperty, Fiona’s vision is to utilise dispute resolution and technology to empower separated families to resolve disputes more efficiently and amicably. Fiona understands the challenges family lawyers and mediators face, particularly time and cost pressures, and believes that we can positively change our growth through resilience.
“I’m passionate about educating the next generation of lawyers and mediators. But the most important role of a good mentor is building a professional relationship that encourages continuous support, scaffolds a professional identity and endures.”
In this interview, we learn how Fiona almost overnight decided to dip her toes in the legal tech market and now a few years working in this space, she is not looking back. Importantly, Fiona shares her own experience with health challenges, how she has successfully managed them, and her top tips for overcoming life hurdles. Watch the video below to learn more:
What motivated you to start your law firm?
The journey started working at three different law firms throughout my career, each for four years. My passion for family law grew, and so did my interest to specialise in family mediation and wanting the flexibility to be with my young family.
These were the main drivers to be more innovative in running my own legal practice. I felt a little burnt out at one stage and achieving a work-life balance was my goal. Running the business, Kirkman Family Law, was a journey in itself and led to other passions of mine. Which have included lecturing at The College of Law Australia and the University of Wollongong, to facilitating the Family Law Fundamentals course at The Law Society of New South Wales. This brought another level of opportunity for family mediation to be seen in ‘practice’ for the students I mentored. I am passionate about supporting others and started a law student program within Kirkman Family Law.
The rise of FamilyProperty
With an unexpected redundancy of my tech husband Tim Kirkman in 2017, the path was not clear, but the idea was born and led us to build and create FamilyProperty. Tim saw a gap in Kirkman Family Law's processes, as we were completing a large volume of manual administrative work.
“Where there is lots of admin, there are lots of opportunities for automation”.
With the help of a visionary, Professor Patrick Parkinson, Professor of Law, he created the template for the client intake questionnaire. He wanted an entry point for people who do not speak legal jargon that collected all of the information required and was written in plain English. Putting his template into practice was the beginning of the FamilyProperty platform.
FamilyPropetry has come a long way in the last five years. We now have a team of over ten staff with extensive family law experience and software developers. The journey started as a questionnaire and automating the matter intake process. Today we have an expert family law system that automates and streamlines the time-intensive and manual aspects of family law matters, empowering lawyers to do more of what they love.
Resilience is that ineffable quality that helped me when I was knocked down by my health but came back stronger than ever. Whilst I was in the hospital, I received great news on the outcome of a legal technology competition we entered for FamilyProperty. Not only did we win the Sydney division but a world tour, so I was determined to get better and go on this trip.
Mentoring future leaders
I’m really passionate about educating the next generation of lawyers and mediators. I started my practice, Kirkman Family Law, as an avenue to bring law students in to gain real experience. I’ve continued educating and mentoring at different forums, being on the Board of The College Law, lecturing at other universities, and creating a family mediator support group on Facebook.
The best software for family lawyers and mediators
Smokeball legal practice management software integrates seamlessly with FamilyProperty, bringing greater efficiencies to your family law matters. FamilyProperty simplifies the manual, time-consuming and repetitive aspects of family property matters, enabling family lawyers and mediators to focus on their clients.
Want more information? Give us a call on 1300 33 55 53 or book a free online demonstration