Today I’m joined by Caralee Fontenele, director of Collective Family Law, a Gold Coast and Brisbane-based law firm specialising in family law. As a divorcee herself, Caralee wants to help families get through the process as quickly and as easily as possible. Now she’s learning what it means to manage up-and-coming lawyers who share her passion for doing law differently (she won’t hire you if you don’t). In true DLD fashion, she is a total powerhouse who turns challenges like Covid-19 into opportunities for real change.

We begin by talking about Caralee’s path to becoming a lawyer, starting with her own divorce and the disappointments that led to her decision not to retain a lawyer. Caralee is far from alone in this move, with a staggering 70% of people not retaining a lawyer when they go through divorce. 

Why? In Caralee’s case, like many others’, she had no professional knowledge of law at the time and found the experience, in her own words, terrifying. The costs – even for an initial consultation – can be overwhelming for single parents and the advice she was given was flimsy and withholding. So, she gave up on it and that led to a less-than-ideal outcome.  

Fortunately, Caralee’s experience has not gone to waste. Instead of succumbing to the brutal realities of traditional law, she set out to create a better situation so that newly-single parents wouldn’t have to go through what she went through.  

Collective Family Law is a modern law firm in all the senses; they offer a free initial consultation, they don’t have a receptionist or a front counter and they’ve put time and effort into creating a low cost online program specifically tailored to that 70% who don’t hire a lawyer. Caralee is also making great waves with her style of management, learning to let go and empowering her team to structure their jobs the way they want to. 

In the episode, we break down Caralee’s philosophy of business which comes down to finding freedom and, as she says, ‘working ON the business, not IN it’. She leaves us with solid advice on how to modernise your 21st Century business, from choosing the right people on your team to making your Instagram and marketing campaigns more fun and engaging. 

What we talk about: 

  • The systemic issues that deter divorcees from retaining a lawyer. 
  • How to modernise your law firm and de-centre yourself as a business owner. 
  • What Covid-19 has taught Caralee about management and why working in your slippers and PJs might just be the ideal way to do things.  

About Caralee Fontenele

Caralee is a multi-passionate and ambitious business woman based on the Gold Coast. She is the director of Collective Family Law a law firm based in SOQ with offices on the Gold Coast and Brisbane. She loves to lead and grow her skilled team in a way that they can all enjoy and benefit from a positive lifestyle as well as the career progression that they want and deserve.  

Collective Family Law is a modern law practice with a focus on helping people going through separation and divorce to move on with their lives in a positive way. They offer full-service family law, fixed fee and online solutions. Their online solutions are for people who don’t need to retain a lawyer, but still want legal guidance to be able to negotiate an outcome. We focus on our client’s goals and practical solutions rather than litigation. 

In Caralee’s own words, the ways she’s doing law differently are: 

  • Offering legal services in a modern way that is less expensive for clients 
  • We have a focus on team culture and lifestyle, because work is only part of our lives and we ultimately work to impact other positively including our clients and our families 
  • We offer flexible solutions for our team 
  • We are not a traditional firm, we don’t have a reception area, but rather a cafe kitchen for clients to feel welcomed into a relaxing environment 

Caralee Fontenele quotes 

  • “When hiring, I don’t care about how someone did at uni, it makes zero difference to me because it doesn’t mean they’re going to be a good or a bad lawyer. Being amazing means having really good customer service focus, keeping the client at the forefront, having a positive influence on their lives and helping them move forward as quickly as they possibly can.” 
  • “Go with your instinct rather than just saying ‘that’s what we do in law’ because law is just like any other business. If you see another business in another sector that you admire, there is a way to replicate parts of what they’re doing.” 

Find Caralee online 

Like this show? 

  • Please leave me a rating and review on Apple Podcasts – even one sentence helps other people to find out about the show! 
  • Never miss an episode – subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify    
  • If you’re doing law differently and want to share your insights on the podcast, get in touch here.  
  • Download my latest e-book, 80 ways to modernise your law firm, full of short, sharp and practical tips to help you firm your foundations, sort your strategy and optimise your operations  
  • Connect with me on LinkedIn   

get the book!

it's time to do law differently
Listen now:
Want to be a guest on DLD?

Are you doing law differently and keen to share your story on the podcast?

Get in touch here