Founders Dominating #NewLaw

Allow us to introduce you to Sarah Batholomeusz, Janelle Kerrisk and Kara Cook, the entrepreneurial #newlaw founders who are driving change in the industry and creating opportunities we should all be excited about.

First up, Sarah Batholomeusz.


If you’re interested in changing with the times as a legal professional and as an entrepreneur, then you’ll definitely want to hear about what Sarah Bartholomeusz has been up to.

Sarah is the founder and director of You Legal, one of the fastest growing corporate law firms in Australia with employees based throughout Australia and 5 other countries. You Legal represents a new category of law firm providing corporate and commercial legal services and resourcing with 24/7 support.

Sarah faced the challenge of being made redundant and ultimately used that challenge to rise up, start her own business, and thrive. Starting in a top tier law firm was the perfect career foundation to do so, says Sarah, who in 2015 was awarded the Telstra Business Women’s Award in the start-up category for South Australia and in 2016 You Legal was awarded the Thought Leader of the Year in the Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Awards.

“My mission is to transform the way that legal services are provided in Australia for corporate clients and for lawyers,” says Sarah.

“We listen to our clients, colleagues and the community to understand what they want and what they need.”

“Responding to the needs of our clients, we have reinvented the way they engage legal services. Our clients have immediate, direct access to top tier legal talent in the most cost effective manner ever devised and enjoy high quality, fast, transparent, flexible and efficient legal services.”

Everyone’s a winner there!

“Our collaborative approach provides a different coloured lens for our clients and colleagues to view the profession. We are passionate about providing leaders of growing companies with outstanding service, providing them with confidence to make bold decisions within their businesses,” says Sarah. Somewhere in there Sarah also found the time to launch her first book in 2015 “How to Avoid a Fall from Grace: Legal Lessons for Directors”, which was ranked as a #1 best seller on Amazon after its release. In 2016 she released her second book, “Kingpin: Legal Lessons from the Underworld”, which explores the crucial legal lessons mainstream businesses can learn from the inherently risky and volatile Underworld inhabited by the most infamous Kingpins in history.

We were fortunate to have Sarah on the podcast recently where we talked about how You Legal grew and attracted clients so quickly, You Legal’s approach to scaling, why pressure is a necessary impetus to creating valuable solutions, how ‘going out there’ is starting to become the safer option, the pros and cons of a remote, globally distributed team, Sarah’s take on AI and offshoring and how to make hiring decisions as a new law firm, just to name a few. You can listen to the podcast episode here.

Next up meet Janelle Kerrisk.


After establishing a successful career as a construction lawyer and partner with Holding Redlich, Janelle went out on her own co-founding, and ultimately becoming the director, of Helix Legal a construction and energy sector specialist law firm. She left her comfort zone, rode the entrepreneurial roller coaster and came out the other side creating something really impressive.

The result is the formation of a new law firm that has done away with the billable hour, implemented innovative project management approaches and has a culture that values happiness (imagine that!). Ultimately, and importantly, this has led her to be more excited and fulfilled in her career than ever before. Massive win!

Janelle also recently won a National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) for achievement as a business woman which she says is a reflection of the hard work put in to establish Helix Legal.

"The award is very validating and it's good to know that I haven't lost my mind!" she says

"In the beginning some people thought I was crazy to walk away from equity partnership in a big firm. I think there is something a little bit scary about walking away from what you've been building for your entire career.”

A focus on how technology and the law can be better used together and developing innovative legal-tech products, have seen Helix Legal elevate within the industry.

"Outside of law and construction technology is something that is used really commonly, but the legal industry has been a bit slower to take up some of those things," says Kerrisk.

"We have been able to embrace it. It means being able to work collaboratively on documents in real time, with clients in Germany and law clerks in Paris."

Janelle is also mother to twins, has dealt with caring for sick family members and sat on the board of the National Association of Women in Construction; so, she’s someone well-versed in the importance of finding a way to balance life and work.

We know you’re going to want to know more about Janelle. Thankfully she took the time to chat to us on the podcast recently where she covered a variety of topics including; why the phrase ‘work-life balance’ is a false dichotomy; how technological tools are shifting the workload within a law firm; the genesis of Helix Legal; why being happy and working in the law are not mutually exclusive; Janelle’s advice to her younger self; the value of a co-working space with an open floor plan; how social media has affected Helix Legal; the way law firms value people internally is changing; and the biggest risk Janelle ever took, plus a whole heap more. You can listen to the podcast here.

Finally, want to hear how one woman has conquered entrepreneurship, disease and motherhood?


Need some inspiration? Meet Kara Cook. For someone still relatively early in their career, Kara Cook has seen and done a lot. Kara is the Vice President of Queensland Law Society, has just been named as the newest councillor for the Brisbane City Council Ward of Morningside, has been previously named the Australian Young Lawyer of the Year by the Law Council of Australia, and is the founder of her own practice, CookLegal, which focuses on domestic violence and family law.

Kara has dealt with entrepreneurial speedbumps, faced a cancer diagnosis and managed her practice as the mother of two kids.

She founded CookLegal due to the enormous need for cost effective domestic violence and family law representation and the need for strong and expert domestic violence advocacy. She passionately believes in social justice for all and in founding CookLegal, Kara established Australia’s first private domestic violence law firm.

“I think the rewards that come from working in an area like this make you feel extremely grateful for your own circumstances,” says Kara.

It was a pleasure to have Kara on the podcast recently. We talked about Kara’s journey and in doing so touched on quite a few other things like: gaps that exist in the legal marketplace (that aren’t covered by legal aid); the stress and drama that comes with working on domestic issues; the importance of a supportive work environment and debriefings; what cancer can teach you and how it helps focus on what is most important; how a remote team can provide unexpected benefits; the value of having a supportive network around you and your business; why leaving work at the office is an imperative skill to have; why law societies need to be more nimble in adjusting to the changing nature of law practice; and why the ‘work-life balance’ is kind of a silly distinction.  You can check out the podcast here.

So there you have it. Three hard-working, super inspiring women doing amazing things for the industry. 


Find more articles on law startups, careers and ideas, and happiness in the workplace here.