Parramatta lawyer leads by example

Family lawyer Susan Warda, the principal at Parramatta's firm Coleman Greig Lawyers, was named as the "woman lawyer of the year in a private practice" at the 2013 NSW Women Lawyers' Achievement Awards. In a candid chat with reporter Flora Cauchi she talks about how she started her career and the people she draws inspiration from.

■ How did you feel winning about the award?

I was overwhelmed. It made me feel that my efforts within the profession had been recognised and were worthwhile. I have spent five years as the front face of Women in Business. While we understand we are the fastest growing networking group for women in the north-west, it was another thing to get this award that marked that achievement.

■ What does the award mean to you on a professional level?

It will help me inspire other female lawyers. The legal profession has made significant progress in accepting the promotion of women in the law, but I think there is certainly still some work to be done.

■ Should there be separate awards for men and women?

Any process that acknowledges achievements regardless of it recognising men, women or a specific group, enhances that industry. It makes those being nominated strive for excellence and that is a good thing.

■ What inspired you to become a lawyer?

I am not quite sure it was one thing, person or event. I was in the debating team at school and public speaking competitions. I guess that coupled with enjoying the mock trials I participated in at school gave me some exposure to what a legal career may look like.

■ Why did you chose family law as a speciality?

I have always enjoyed working with people, so family law was a great match. I find that it is an area where you can often make a difference. More so as my client base has grown, keeping my work interesting and allowing me to spend time with people I enjoy assisting.

■ Do you have a message for young female lawyers starting out their careers?

Work with people who inspire you — male or female. I have been inspired by a number of men I have worked with and others, whose careers I have followed with great interest. Take every opportunity that comes your way and try very hard to distinguish yourself . . . work hard and accept you will be judged all the time. That's life.

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