Today’s guest is the inspirational NewLaw advocate Sarah Jefford. From her home in Melbourne, Sarah runs a Family Creation Law firm, produces the Australian Surrogacy Podcast and has now written a book called ‘More Than Just A Baby’ which, on reflection, had a longer gestation period than humans do. Sarah is one of those lawyers whose work is so intimately connected with her personal life that she can’t help but be the best at what she does. Read on – and listen on – to see what I mean!
In the episode, Sarah and I track her past and the journey that’s got her to where she is now, from family law to management to running her own firm and loving it. This is the point in her story where things get interesting. She started a family law practice after having kids and around the same time she became an egg donor. Shortly after that, in 2016, Sarah became a surrogate and, at the same time, started practising surrogate law.
Working in family law, Sarah says, came with high stress levels. It almost always turns nasty. Now, every matter starts with the same joyous idea: ‘Let’s have a baby!’
“I get to engage with [the clients] on a human level. I get to see baby photos, hear birth stories, talk to the surrogates and spend a lot of time talking about what it feels like to be a surrogate. I get to talk it about it all day and it’s amazing.”
Having been a surrogate herself, Sarah can relate to her clients like nobody else can. Sounds like the definition of a niche to me. The important part here is that she didn’t plan this; when she was studying law and making her first professional decisions, there’s no way Sarah could have known that she’d one day be the surrogate for someone else’s baby. So, to all my young listeners, don’t panic. Instead, do things, experience people and get to know yourself. A niche is not something you can force yourself into, it just happens.
We also talk about NewLaw and what it means to us. According to Sarah, it’s everything that traditional law firms aren’t doing. Wedded to their tier structures, partnerships and billable hours, trad firms are bad at changing with the times and never take responsibility for the happiness of their employees. When she was told that she CAN’T do fixed-fee family law, she CAN’T work from home and she HAS to keep expanding and hiring more staff, Sarah just said no. I like that a lot.
“My practice will change according to what my needs are. But yeah, try it, but if it doesn’t work, move onto something else. That’s my philosophy.”
Listen to the podcast for a fascinating explanation of Australian Surrogacy Law and the factors involved that can be the difference between a positive and a negative experience. Towards the end of the episode, we get into the two things that Sarah remains staunchly focused on; the child (who, though they don’t exist yet, will need to have their future interests protected) and the surrogate (whose bodily autonomy must absolutely not be up for grabs).
I’ll leave you with my favourite thing anyone has ever said:
“My philosophy in terms of how I practice is that I’ll always be authentic and I’ll always be kind.” – Sarah Jefford
About our guest
Sarah is a family and surrogacy lawyer, practising across Australia from her home in Melbourne. She has been an IVF mum, an egg donor and a surrogate. She now practices exclusively in family creation law, produces the Australian Surrogacy Podcast and has recently published her book, More Than Just a Baby.
She runs a NewLaw firm that is paperless, essentially running everything from her laptop and a Zoom account, but Sarah gets the most joy from the non-lawyer activities like writing and podcasting. She loves the human connections she makes with clients, who are often also her friends. Having been a surrogate herself, Sarah has a unique insight into surrogacy arrangements that inform her practice every day.
Find Sarah online
- Buy Sarah’s new book – More Than Just A Baby here!
- Sarah’s website
- Connect with Sarah on Facebook and LinkedIn
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