Kirsty Salvestro is a family law specialist and the author of her first book, What Are We Fighting For?: A peaceful pathway for separating couples.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I always knew I wanted to work in an area that involved law and helping families as I grew up in a broken home and wanted to make a difference.
I initially worked in personal injury, however after my daughter was born, my need to spend time with my baby girl overrode my need to succeed in my industry and I made the very easy decision to leave my firm and look for more flexible work.
I moved to Cooma in the Snowy Mountains and began working in a rural practice in Cooma and took on the family law work. It suited my family life perfectly.
After my son was born, my husband and I sadly separated, and I became a single mother. I still only ever worked 9am to 3pm so they didn’t go into after school care, and somehow, I just made this work. 5 years later I re-married.
As much as I loved my rural firm, my secure partnership, and my family law clients, about 4 years ago I came to the realisation that I was tired of fighting. I saw couples walking away from the process, souls destroyed, bitter and not to mention spending thousands of hard-earned dollars. This did not sit well with me.
So, I realised that I needed to make a difference somehow, I realised I needed to stop families from fighting and help them avoid a fight. I left my partnership, trained as a mediator and created Flourish Family law, a boutique firm practicing solely in out of court solutions.
Over the past 3 years this passion has grown into a thriving firm that has assisted hundreds of couples, has given me the strength and courage to write my first book, What are We Fighting For, A Peaceful Pathway for Separating Couples to guide couples on reaching amicable agreements.
The book was so much fun to write and publish and has now led me to an online course and allowed me to build up the divorce coaching side of my business. I couldn’t be more thrilled with where I am right now and honestly, wouldn’t change any of my history as it has led me to where I am today.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I am still very focused on my children. They are now in year 10 and year 11. So, after getting up and making them breakfast, packing lunches, and getting them to school, I return home to be in front of my home computer.
I do rent a small room in a beautiful little building here in Cooma to see local clients face to face, but most of my work is done at my home office, just where I like it. I also do a great deal of my work by phone and zoom. I offered this even before Covid so that I can offer clients a very flexible arrangement and also assist couples outside my area.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Definitely! The majority of my work is from home. I would say I spend one half day a week, but not a whole day, in my meeting rooms. I have everything I need at home, my computer, phone, office supplies, and I have no need for a shopfront.
I work solidly from 9am to 3pm, pick up the kids and get them to work/sport and then come back and do another hour or so if I can. All of my work is saved in my Client Management System so I can also take my laptop and work away from my desk if I need to. I can really work from anywhere.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I think this is my superpower. I am very strict on equally balancing these two. My family is my priority and will always come first, but I also offer my clients personal care and support at any time, so I work flexible hours to fit around both.
I find that by not restricting my clients to set hours, they are very respectful and careful not to encroach into my weekends and after hours. Just knowing that I am there for them seems to be enough.
My family also knows that I sometimes have to take calls to help people, but I make sure that it is not interrupting anything important I am doing with them. I love being able to work and be home for my family, it means so much to me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
My world has been stable over the last 12 months with little change to my routine. I have found that as my children get older, the running around increases as they become more social and they are also working, so I think I would add ‘taxi driver’ to my resume.
My son did start playing football in Canberra, so twice a week I drive him to training after school and this means I am in the car a lot more.
So, to entertain myself, much to my son’s disgust, I have definitely increased my use of audible and listening to podcasts. I find it a great time to focus on self-development or interesting business books I wouldn’t otherwise have the time to read.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I am a book nerd and surround myself with lots of books, some I haven’t even read yet as I have too many! My two favourite books are The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Elanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman. Love these two so different but so wonderful!
I have read and listened to every Simon Sinek and Brene Brown book, and recently listened to and loved The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga.
As for podcasts, although my son tries to slip in some football ones, I listen to Stevie Says Social every week (she is one inspiring lady), Doing Law Differently with Lucy Dickens, Unlocking Us with Brene Brown (anything Brene Brown actually) and Conversations.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Oh, I just purchased a Remarkable so amazing for taking notes. Still getting used to it, but so far, I highly recommend it.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I would have to say Brene Brown. How does she do it all?!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think the best advice I can give is just do what you want, not what you think you should do. You don’t need to listen to or impress anyone else. If you are happy doing things your way, then do it that way.
We often get too influenced by what others say we should be doing or how we should be doing it. I really don’t like the word should. Just be yourself and do what makes you happy. If you start to think “I should”, turn the sentence into “I would love to” and see whether you still like the answer!
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