Leah Johnson is a Solicitor at CDG Law Newcastle and heads up their family and residential property law specialty divisions. This is where both Leah’s professional and personal passions lie.
Leah has been practising her legal vocation for over half a decade now and is only just getting started. She embraces not just the professional side of her legal career, but most importantly the caring side of her career.
Her dedication to the law and our community includes assisting two non-for-profits: Secret Book Stuff with their licensing and entry into their new space at The Station Newcastle and Hassle Free BnB with contracting.
Plus, until her recent six-month sabbatical working and travelling abroad, she also sat on the board of Newcastle Art Space.
- What career path led you to where you are now?
It might sound a little bit strange, but actually when I was a child I watched the movie Liar, Liar – which has Jim Carrey and he’s a lawyer and he’s a very good one because he lies a lot. And I thought as a 9-year old, “I could do that, I could be a good liar.”
Ever since then I wanted to be a lawyer, and that has basically been it. I’ve only ever been a lawyer. I worked in other areas while studying in hospitality and in cinemas, but otherwise it’s just always been more.
Thankfully more is not like Liar, Liar, and I’m a terrible liar, but hopefully a good lawyer.
- What motivates and drives you?
Challenges, I really like to be challenged in my professional life, but also my personal life as well.
So, in law no day is the same, no matter is the same, so I like to look at everything differently and see how we can be creative and see how you can manage clients and really push myself to the limits there, and sort of as a counterbalance to that I like to push myself in my personal life as well and do things outside of my comfort zone like running and triathlons and trying to learn languages. And yeah, that really motivates me and drives me every single day.
- What has been your biggest learning curve in your career?
It’s probably being that not everyone has your best interests in mind. I learned that in a job that I worked in in Sydney.
I’m an advocate for my clients, but I’m my own worst advocate. So, it’s been an ongoing challenge and lesson for me to learn to look after myself as much as I look after clients.
- Where would you like to be in 10 years?
It might sound really boring, but right here in Newcastle. I was born and raised in Newcastle, I’ve got all my family and friends here, and I feel really fortunate that I’ve found full-time employment in Newcastle. I really like the people that I work with as well. And when you find people like that – you hold on to them and you don’t let them go.
So in 10 years I picture myself being out in the suburbs with the families, still working at the same law firm with hopefully all of the same people, and just loving life.
- Have you had any significant Hunter-based mentors during your career that inspire you?
Yes, I have. I’ve got a few.
He will cringe at me saying this, but my boss, Ian Gray at CDG Law. I find him really inspiring, he runs a successful law practice, he’s got two locations, multiple staff, he works really hard in his job. But he also maintains balance in his personal life.
He’s got four beautiful girls, and he always finds time to take them to sports, for training on the weekends, he even actually coaches one of his daughters’ all-girls cricket team and they won their grand final recently, very exciting.
So it’s really amazing to see that you can have both, you can have it all in your personal and your professional life, and you can do it really well. And he’s someone that looks after himself, his mental health and well-being, and he encourages his staff to do the same. Some of the staff have been there for 30, 35 years, so I think that really says a lot about who he is as a person.
Other people that I get inspiration from actually are my clients, and one that springs to mind is the women behind The Grateful boutique and bouquet which is located in Carrington or Carrados as they affectionately call it.
They’re doing really amazing things, they started up a boutique here, and from the profits raised part of that goes back to Got Your Back Sista, which helps women who find themselves in domestic violence situations. And they’ve also got a bouquet program where for every bouquet purchase they donate another one to the John Hunter Hospital.
And I’ve been really lucky in helping those women find their lease in Carrington and helping them get their foot in the door and start and roll out those amazing initiatives across the Newcastle community.