Being a solicitor in a regional town gives you the chance to "do more" and for Dubbo girl Melissa Mastronardi, there's nowhere she'd rather be.
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Ms Mastronardi, director and principal solicitor at Mastronardi Legal, grew up in Dubbo and went to St John's College. She moved away for university and lived in Wagga with her husband, and also practised in Canberra, before returning "home " in 2014.
"I really enjoy regional practice. You get to do more, you get more involved earlier in your career. I've always been a big advocate for lawyers coming to the regions," she told the Daily Liberal.
Ms Mastronardi never thought she would own her own business, but five years ago she went out on her own, after working with another local firm as a family solicitor.
"We started just the two of us, myself and my assistant Wendy [Shepherd]. We've grown from there. We just do family law - we don't do anything else," she said.
Family law can be "very difficult".
"We deal with difficult situations - domestic violence, children being exposed, there can be clients going through physical violence, significant mental health and drug issues," Ms Mastronardi said.
"It can be extremely draining. You can have days where it feels like you can't do anything for your clients, you can't make the situation better. That can be really difficult."
Ms Mastronardi deals with these situations by leaving "work at work".
"In those moments where you do something well, and have a good outcome for your client, it makes it all worthwhile," she said.
"I have some hobbies I do so I can have a break from work, so I'm not thinking about it all the time. I also have a four-year-old who keeps me very busy and ensures I leave work at work."
Ms Mastronardi prides herself on her commitment to her clients, and her professionalism.
"We get people at one of the most difficult times in their lives, and we're trying to make it a bit easier," she said.
IN OTHER NEWS
Mastronardi Legal recently won the Excellence in Small Business Award at the 2023 Rhino Awards. Ms Mastronardi said she was "very excited" and "very proud" of her team.
"Five years ago I never would have expected us to be where we are today," she said.
COVID was a trying time but the team "pitched in" and "came together" and adapted.
Ms Mastronardi is currently training up the practice's newest lawyer.
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