Clarissa Rayward, Director of Brisbane Family Law Centre and more commonly known as ‘The Happy Family Lawyer,’ is a divorce lawyer with a twist. Instead of taking her clients to the courts, she specialises in helping separating families stay out of court and remain friends.
Not typically the most cheerful of subjects; building a brand that aims to show divorce in a positive light has been no small feat. Bring on a rebrand, a refined pitch, creating a conversational blog and publishing best-selling book ‘Splitsville’ and Clarissa has increased client intake by a massive 30%.
I’ve met Clarissa many times and she’s as colourful and lively in per-son as she is in her approach to business, here’s what I uncovered about ‘The Happy Family Lawyer’.
HOW DID YOU BECOME “THE HAPPY FAMILY LAWYER”?
My personal brand ‘The Happy Family Lawyer’ developed really by chance one evening when I decided to set up a blog. From there, I developed social media platforms that sat around the blog and it has now become a platform and a business of its own right.
HOW HAS IT HELPED YOUR BRAND?
Becoming a Key Person of Influence was essential in assisting me to better understand why both my business brand at Brisbane Family Law Centre and my personal brand “The Happy Family Lawyer” set me apart from my competitors. Once I had that clarity, it became much easier to articulate that message, primarily through social media and other visual platforms, in a way that has enabled me to then connect with potential clients with clarity.
SO, YOU’RE A LAWYER, A BLOGGER & TALKING ABOUT THE ‘TABOO’ SUBJECT OF DIVORCE – WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S WORKING?
I think what has set my blog apart from others in my industry is that my site and my writing is purely for writing sake. What I mean by this is I am not adding a blog to an existing business site to improve rankings, I am writing for the sole purpose of sharing information and experiences and growing a community of people who are interested in reading what I have to share as a result.
I don’t write complex legal articles, I write as if I am talking to a best friend and helping her through her own divorce. My style is therefore conversational, personal and at times humorous which I think is par-ticularly unique in an industry that is generally focused on anything but those traits.
WHAT DIFFERENCE HAS BLOGGING MADE TO YOUR BUSINESS?
By blogging as a separate identity to my business I have been able to create a personal brand and a new business that has the dual purpose of feeding work back into my legal and mediation practices while at the same time opening up new business opportunities.
As my blog is not a law firm it’s been much more warmly engaged with, particularly on social media, than my legal firm. I sense it is a less threatening, and the title – ‘The Happy Family Lawyer’ is clearly an oxymoron that gets people thinking and asking questions.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS ON STARTING A BLOG?
1. Just get started. The worst that happens is you write some words and a few people read them! Trying to understand ‘why’ you are blogging should set you up really well. I have noticed two styles of blogging – the blog that is designed to build SEO content on a busi-ness page versus a more personal blog that tends to be a platform in its own right. Both have their own benefits, and understanding your ‘why’ will make it so much easier to be clear around what you hope to achieve.
2. Don’t give up. When you begin there is every chance that what you are writing will only be read by your Mum and maybe your part-ner! Over time that will change, but to make it change you have to keep going. It takes time and persistence even when it seems no one is interested.
WHERE DO YOU GET INSPIRATION FOR YOUR ARTICLES?
As I have written more and more I have developed a better under-standing of what interests my readers, what makes them want to click a link and read on. Most of my ideas seem to come from things that happen during my working day- it might be things I say to clients or things they say to me.
If I am completely lost for ideas I go to the bigger sites that are in my field and see what others are writing- Huffington Post Divorce and Divorced Moms always have a huge amount of content that can help to trigger some ideas. And the other great source of ideas are my readers – I will regularly ask on my Facebook page for topic ideas and I always end up with a few great ones!
HAS THERE BEEN A MOMENT WHERE YOU REALLY FELT LIKE A KEY PERSON OF INFLUENCE?
Last year I had a group of soon-to-be lawyers approach me at a pro-fessional Christmas event and they were excited to meet with me after they had been following my writing online. I like to call them my ‘groupies’ and whilst it’s been somewhat ridiculous, it’s been really interesting as an employer because now lawyers who have read my book and follow my writing are approaching me constantly for em-ployment based on their knowledge of my approach and ideals when it comes to family law.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE WORK YOU DO?
My favourite thing, and what at times is also the most complicated or difficult thing, is working with people who are in significant stress and grief, and are managing all that comes with falling out of love. Rela-tionships in my life are very important to me and I am really privileged to work with families through all that relationship breakdown can bring.
Tweetable kudos: (Copy and paste to your Twitter)
Kudos to @ClarissaRayward on warming up the legal industry through your #HappyFamilyLawyer Blog. We love your work!