30 July 2023
Joining FLS this month after volunteering for over a year, we meet with paralegal Christina Potts to hear her experience of volunteering and now working in our Family Law and Family Violence Team, and the values that pulled her to this work.
- What was your role as a volunteer at FLS and what did it largely involve?
I worked as a paralegal in the Family Law and Family Violence Team and also at the Divorce Clinic. This mainly involved assisting with client intake, completing tasks on files and supporting legal research. I was also able to shadow the duty lawyers at the Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court which was a great experience.
I absolutely loved being a paralegal at the divorce clinic and assisting clients with their online divorce applications. It is such a great learning opportunity, and an opportunity to directly help people in taking such a big step in their lives.
- What prompted you to get involved in this type of work?
I had a friend who volunteered with the Night Service and who always raved about the experience and the friends she’s made. I knew FLS had a great reputation for supporting the community, and I had referred to The Law Handbook a couple of times during university. This really drove me to want to get involved.
- How close was this to what you were expecting?
There is a strong sense of camaraderie and respect amongst the volunteers and staff. Something I did not expect is the real impact that you can make here as a volunteer. Even though I was not an admitted lawyer during that year, I felt that the work I was able to do could really make an impact within the local community.
Something I did not expect is the real impact that you can make here as a volunteer.Christina Potts, FLS Paralegal and former volunteer
For example, when I was working as a paralegal with the duty lawyer at the Heidelberg Magistrates Court, an affected family member/victim survivor of family violence asked me to sit with them whilst their matter was heard. Afterwards they told me they felt they were supported just by having someone else to sit with them and make them feel a bit safer during court.
- How would you describe the work and culture of FLS as a service?
There is a real sense that everyone is working towards a common goal of providing the community with meaningful access to justice and legal outcomes to benefit the whole community. Having this shared goal is so motivating and inspiring. All jobs are challenging at times, but having such a strong sense of community and a common goal helps sustain work ethic, sense of purpose and enjoyment of a role.
- Could you tell us a bit about what your role as a paralegal involves?
My role now largely involves working on family law case work, and assisting at the Heidelberg Magistrates Court and Neighbourhood Justice Centre in Collingwood. Once I am admitted I will be assisting by giving advice appointments at our Health Justice Partnership organisations.
- What drives you and gives you most passion?
I am most passionate about community access to legal advice. You could assume that with today’s technology, that legal information is readily at everyone’s fingertips. It is true that there is a flood of information on the internet and social media that is readily accessible. However, there is also a flood of misinformation, disinformation and sometimes the law is complicated and hard to understand.
I believe everyone has the right to sit down with a legal advisor and have laws and rights clearly explained, no matter their background or financial situation.
- What’s the top piece of advice you’d give to other FLS volunteers looking to build their legal career?
My top piece of advice is to seek out mentorship, preferably from people who have a different life experience to you, and who will challenge your way of thinking. A great mentor who encourages critical thinking can build your confidence, and legal skills.
Christina Potts joined FLS in July 2023 as a Family Law and Family Violence Paralegal after volunteering with the team for over a year. Prior to this, she worked in family law at Nevett Ford Lawyers in Melbourne and criminal law firm Kingsley Napley in London. Christina has graduated from Deakin University with a Bachelor of Laws and is currently undertaking her Practical Legal Training to become admitted as a lawyer.