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Juliana Smith Barrister and Solicitor
A unique approach to the law
Juliana Smith brings a unique perspective to her role as a lawyer, having worked as a nurse and in the corporate world before moving into criminal and family law.
Her business, Juliana Smith Barrister & Solicitor, provides services in family law, Magistrates Court criminal law and traffic matters to clients in Bendigo, the Macedon Ranges, Woodend, Kyneton, Gisborne, Melbourne, Ballarat and Sunbury.
Before qualifying as a lawyer, Juliana was a Registered Nurse. In 1996 she moved to the corporate sector, working for several multinationals before commencing legal practice in Bendigo. Her background means she has a variety of interpersonal and business skills that combine to provide clients with a unique legal service.
When Juliana started her business in 2011, she was confident it could carve a niche in the competitive legal market. But she wanted to ensure she covered all bases and decided a mentor could help.
After hearing about the Small Business Mentoring Service (SBMS) through Small Business Victoria, Juliana was matched with mentor Janet Cropley, who is based in Maldon.
Janet has a strong general management background in a range of private and public organisations. Since 1994 she has run her own training and consultancy practice, working with small businesses, not-for-profit organisations and educational institutions to seek business improvement through understanding.
SBMS is a non-government, non-profit organisation of volunteer expert mentors who give their time and experience to help small business. It is supported by Small Business Victoria, which refers clients to it.
Juliana had eight face-to-face sessions with Janet, starting soon after she established her business. Mentoring continues and they are still in touch when Juliana needs advice.
Among other things, Janet and Juliana discussed a Human Resources system and structure, which was new to Juliana and an important part of setting up a business, however small. Initially Juliana worked alone, but she soon hired an assistant.
Janet explained the need for KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and supervision meetings, and helped Juliana to set them up. This helped to quantify roles and improve communication with staff.
“Small businesses are very small and therefore your personal relationship with your staff is very sensitive,” Janet says. “Juliana has full control of all that now by being very clear about what she wants from staff and they fell safer knowing what she wants”.
They also discussed marketing the business and how to create an effective marketing and advertising strategy to make the most of her diverse background, range of talents and people skills.
This involved discussing marketing options and how to attract word-of-mouth referrals. Janet also advised Juliana to join the local women’s business network, which she did. This proved helpful for contacts and ideas.
Juliana has also worked to build community links. “She’s done some lovely positive work with the Law Society in Bendigo and she’s offered to talk at schools for careers and all of those sorts of things,” Janet says. “The word of mouth is starting to happen and her business is seeing the benefits.”
While Juliana was experienced in the corporate world, she has found Janet’s mentoring to be invaluable as she develops and grows her business. Janet has provided her with ideas and guidance, while validating what she was already doing right.
As well as providing a personalised service drawing on a wealth of life and legal experience, Juliana is now well placed to run a successful business. She now has a full-time employee and several casuals and is doing well in a competitive market.
“Being a small business it’s good to have[CC1] [D2] another person to bounce ideas off,” Juliana says. “Janet was great. It’s an invaluable service.”
Janet says Juliana had the basis of a solid business with a good point of difference. All she needed was some guidance and reassurance that once she had the correct structures in place it would thrive, which it has. “She’s been a delight to work with,” Janet says.
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