Giving back to the community in their time of need

Giving back to the community in their time of need

Monday, 18 March 2019

Mikarla Perisic, family lawyer at Perisic Lawyers
Mikarla Perisic, family lawyer at Perisic Lawyers

Having practised family law for 13 years, family lawyer Mikarla Perisic of Perisic Lawyers, Geelong is well versed in all things family law.

‘I graduated in Arts/Law from Deakin University, Geelong and completed my articles at Rowe Lawyers. I remained at Rowe Lawyers for a while and after Rowe Lawyers became Cahill and Rowe Lawyers, I worked for another couple of years at the firm.

‘During 2009 I was approached to go into partnership with Christine Thomas and together we created Perisic and Thomas Lawyers. I subsequently created Perisic Lawyers in 2013,’ said Mikarla.

Pressed on what attracted her to do legally aided work, Mikarla believes her personal beliefs and early work experience played a large role.

‘I have undertaken legally aided work throughout my career and joined the panel as soon as panels were introduced.

‘I have long been involved with the Family Law, Family Violence and Child Protection panels, as well as being an independent children’s lawyer.

‘I even completed work experience at the Geelong office of Victoria Legal Aid while at university, and have always been drawn to helping people.

‘Doing legal aid work means I can help people who may otherwise have not been able to get legal assistance, and undertaking this work is my way of giving back to my local community.

As for what personal and professional attributes make a good panel practitioner, Mikarla believes good people skills are vital.

‘Family law practitioners need to have great interpersonal and communication skills.

‘So much of what we do is trying to help our clients during one of the hardest times of their lives, and family lawyers must be able to deal with highly emotional situations. I encourage all my staff to have interests and hobbies outside of work in order to ensure that they don’t get overwhelmed by the issues we deal with each day, as balance is important.

‘I think you also need to have a keen interest in helping people and a belief in access to justice.

‘Additionally, you need to have excellent time management skills, and be a diligent record keeper, with good processes in place.’

Mikarla believes that our quality audit process delivers benefits for panel practitioners.

‘The audit really made our office consider our processes and whether there were ways that we could improve further.

‘We were already committed to providing a high level of service to our legal aid clients, but the audit enabled us to really focus on what could be improved.’

As for advice on how fellow panel practitioners can prepare for a Victoria Legal Aid audit and pass it with ease, Mikarla has some handy tips.

‘I think the key to passing an audit comes down to good record keeping.

‘Be as detailed as you can in file notes and cross-check information clients provide with information that becomes available during the matter.

‘In our case, the preparation for the audit itself was straight forward. What was more challenging was making sure that we had the right processes in place, well before the audit occurred.

‘Together, my team and I created forms to ensure that we were complying with our panel requirements, both when opening and closing files. I also ensured that we regularly reviewed our matters to ensure that clients continued to meet the guidelines.

‘My staff and I also frequently discuss our matters and brainstorm ideas so we can get more than one perspective on them, and I ensure that I keep a close eye on all matters within the office.

Mikarla encourages any firms and practitioners to take up the opportunity of providing legally aided work.

‘Legal aid work is a great way to give back to the community and help disadvantaged clients navigate what is often a difficult and emotional pathway.

‘If you are unsure about doing legal aid work or the audit process, reach out to Victoria Legal Aid or other firms that are on the panel.

‘I am more than happy to talk to other practitioners about my experiences, as it’s how we all learn and improve.’

Legal Quality Auditor Richard Concha said Mikarla Perisic was an outstanding example of a panel practitioner exhibiting best practice in file management and client service.

‘Mikarla and her firm have provided excellent service to her clients via regular contact, being responsive to client requests for assistance and advice, and displaying a willingness to provide a service beyond what was required.

‘Her file management was of a very high standard with all relevant documents being on file and organised in a clear and logical manner, and her file notes were detailed and comprehensive.

‘These practices deliver a consistently positive outcome for her clients,’ said Richie.

More information

Read about the Section 29A panels conditions.

For more information contact the Quality Audit team on (03) 9269 0605 or (03) 9269 0558.


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