Jacky Campbell, December 2013

Having it all

Each generation of women faces different challenges with careers and family. I believe the generation before mine faced greater ones than I did. Bizarrely, I also believe the current generation of female law graduates face greater challenges than me.

I was born in 1961, the last Baby Boomer year. Older Baby Boomers and the pre-war generation were the real trail blazers. Female lawyers were an extremely small minority. They faced open discrimination on the basis of gender, and often had to choose between having a career and having a family. Women usually did not have the opportunity to attend university, let alone dream of becoming Prime Minister, the Governor General or the Chief of Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria. My generation was told that we should have those dreams.

I was fortunate to have parents who expected me to attend university. They expected me to be able to “have it all”. I was also fortunate to attend university in the heady post-Whitlam years when university education was free. My parents encouraged me to explore professions other than teaching and nursing, which were seen as the main options by many of my school class-mates.

At university I met other women who believed they could have both a career and a family. Some of us were fortunate to have partners who believed it too. For example, my husband has done his fair share of looking after sick children. We often split the day and each spent half a day in the office and half a day working from home with the sick child. Later, I discovered the benefit of having a large office so a sick child could sit in a comfortable chair with a book when they weren’t watching DVDs in the boardroom.

I was wary of studying family law at university as I had heard that women were often stereotyped and placed in family law departments because they were female. In retrospect, I realise that whether or not I studied family law was irrelevant to prospective employers. In any event, I now say that I stereotyped myself, did my Masters in Family Law to catch up and have practised solely in the area of family law for over 20 years.

Despite my expectations, acquired through the media and at university, to encounter gender discrimination in the workplace, it was not until my fifth professional job that I was aware of being treated differently because I was female. I did my Articles in a small country firm and was encouraged by my principal, Clem D’Alessandro and the female lawyers. I was welcomed into a bookclub and the local community. Later, I worked in a suburban practice, Purcell Balfe & Webb, where the supervision and encouragement I received as a lawyer and a person, particularly from Tony Balfe, was fantastic. In none of my early jobs did I perceive that I was judged other than on merit.

It was in a mid-tier city firm that I finally encountered gender prejudice. It was a shock. I was not “one of the boys”, was treated differently and socially excluded – not by the partners but by male colleagues. Also, I think the commercial “boys” considered that family law wasn’t real law. They were unaware of the depth of commercial knowledge family lawyers required.

My next move was to Aitken Walker & Strachan which had a long history of ethical and quality practice, and well-regarded senior practitioners such as Phillip and Bob Aitken and Robert Davey. I was there 12 years and was again treated as a lawyer first and a female second. Allowances were made for me whilst I was pregnant and had children, allowances for which I will be forever grateful. It seemed an accident of history for me to be their first female equity partner.

Looking back, most of my in-house mentors have been male. However, I have also been supported and encouraged by male and female lawyers in the broader family law community in my career and personal challenges, including setting up a specialist family law firm, Forte Family Lawyers. One of these supportive colleagues, Caroline Counsel, is also writing in this journal.

When I was pregnant with my first child I started writing for CCH to help me stay up to date with the law whilst I was home with a baby. Fifteen years down the track I am still writing for CCH and have developed close personal relationships with the various female editors there, sharing the highs and lows of juggling work and family commitments.

I tried part-time work but found it difficult to deal with a baby, faxes, emails and phone calls on both the land line and mobile as well as trying to type my own letters. Too much technology demanded my attention at the same time and I missed the convenience and filtering roles of my PA and a receptionist. I was confident with the choice of a city-based crèche which encouraged parents to drop in. Later, a string of well-adjusted university students helped with after-school care and provided good role models for my children.

Although I have almost always worked full-time, I have managed to attend day time class concerts, help with reading in my son’s classroom, help with maths in my daughter’s classroom, attend daytime school functions and be a parents’ class representative. In exchange for this flexibility, work often leaks into evenings and weekends.

I have more than 4 weeks of holidays per year, but in exchange for this, I work during holidays. In part, this is to avoid the extra work involved in doing long memos on my files, but it also means that I am available to answer emailed queries from junior lawyers and not leave all the burden of managing the practice to my partner. In part, it’s because, unlike a file, reading and writing about the law doesn’t have an end point. The only holiday when I didn’t work, not even my beloved CCH writing, was when we holidayed in the United States, seeing the Grand Canyon, Disney World and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This break was not for a lack of trying, but the time difference and IT issues completely defeated me.

My children roll their eyes at my Blackberry addiction and my recently acquired glued on i-Pad. However, they give me freedom to work at odd times so I can be available for my children during working hours and not always be in the office next to a fixed phone line.   I know what’s happening before I enter the office after a school commitment rather than have the stress of several bombs exploding the minute I return. I can consider the legal issues, start drafting in my head and even handwrite or type a response. I feel I have more control. By contrast, my children believe my Blackberry controls me. They don’t want me to check my emails out of the office at all.

This brings me to the generation of recent graduates. They tell me that they don’t want my life – they think it’s hectic and stressful. Maybe it is, but I don’t know what I would change. I have a challenging and interesting career, am a partner in a successful legal practice, have a fantastic partner at Forte Family Lawyers in Wendy Kayler-Thomson, a supportive husband and two wonderful teenage children. Through writing for CCH I am able to combine my love of learning with maintaining my professional profile. If I had to press the “delete” key, what do I remove?

My generation didn’t want the lives of our parents and our parents didn’t want the lives of their parents. But whatever the current generation does, like me, they will be criticised by others for their choices by people who made different choices.

My generation seems marked as a generation where many career women kept their maiden names when they married (they also didn’t have to change them back when they divorced) and use the title “Ms”. From my observations, the current generation of graduates seems determined to move from “Miss” to “Mrs” when they marry and change their surnames at that time too. The title “Ms”, adopted by me and my university friends when we were aged 17 or 18, meant that we, like men, did not go through life identified as single or married. I have been told that this title now dates us. Some recent graduates think “Ms” is for old people and “Miss” means they are young. Do they also think their marriages are more likely to be successful if they have their husband’s surname?

I worry about the current generation of law graduates (and my children). I hope they will believe they can “have it all”, if that is what they want. If they don’t want to, that is their choice, and I hope they don’t encounter too much criticism for choosing either family or career. Whatever they decide, I hope, like me, when they reach their 50’s, they embrace the decisions they made about how they lived their lives. They may have some regrets – we all do – but for me they are not major ones. I hope they don’t want to press the “delete” key, or even worse, press “re-wind”.

Jacky Campbell


University qualifications

Master of Laws, Monash University

Bachelor of Laws, Monash University

Bachelor of Arts, Monash University

Graduate Diploma of Professional Writing, Deakin University

Other qualifications
Accredited Family Law Specialist,
Law Institute of Victoria

Email Jacky Campbell

Connect on LinkedIn

To read Jacky Campbell’s articles and papers click here.

In 2020, Jacky was recognised as a leading family lawyer in Melbourne by Doyle’s Guide to the Australian Legal Market as well as one of Melbourne’s leading family lawyers in High-value and Complex Property matters, and a recommended lawyer in parenting matters. Jacky was also a recommended lawyer in the Doyle’s leading family and divorce lawyers in Australia. Jacky writes extensively on complex aspects of family law and her up-to-date knowledge means that she is able to provide accurate information about the law. She combines this with offering strategic advice to clients and guidance as to the best approach to take in their particular circumstances.

Jacky wrote her Masters thesis on the relationship of bankruptcy and family law. She continues to have a special interest in matters involving bankruptcy, insolvency, liquidation and receivership.

Jacky received the Law Institute of Victoria Rogers Legal Writing Award 2004—for the article “Splitting the Super…and Selling the Home”. She is experienced with complex superannuation interests such as defined benefit funds and self managed superannuation funds.

Jacky is the consultant editor of Wolters Kluwer/CCH Australian Family Law and Practice and contributing author to Wolters Kluwer/CCH Australian Family Law and Practice to the Property, Spousal Maintenance, Financial Agreements, Maintenance Agreements, Procedure and Precedents tabs. She writes several chapters of the Wolters/Kluwer CCH Australian Master Family Law Guide, and is the author of the family law chapters in the Thomson-Reuters Australian Financial Planning Handbook and in the CCH Australian Master Superannuation Guide.

Jacky is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, a board member of the Asia Pacific Chapter of that Academy, and an Associate of the American Bar Association. She acts for many clients who are overseas or where there is an international element such as overseas assets and international child abduction under the Hague Convention. She is also experienced in Australian and overseas surrogacy arrangements and in disputes about the role of a sperm donor. She is a member of the Maintenance and Property Committee of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia and Victorian Women Lawyers.

Jacky is keen to assist clients to resolve matters before trial through alternative dispute resolution processes including mediation. She is a trained arbitrator and is an arbitrator with The Alternative Courtroom.

Wendy Kayler-Thomson


University qualifications

Master of Laws, Monash University

Bachelor of Laws, University of Melbourne

Bachelor of Commerce, University of Melbourne

Other qualifications
Accredited Family Law Specialist, Law Institute of Victoria

Email Wendy Kayler-Thomson

Connect on LinkedIn

Wendy Kayler-Thomson is a partner of Forte Family Lawyers and has practised as a lawyer specialising in family law for more than 25 years. Wendy is recognised as one of Melbourne’s leading family lawyers in Doyle’s 2020 Guide to the Australian Legal Market.

Wendy is the Immediate Past Chair of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, the peak body for Australian family lawyers, and has been a member of the Executive of the Family Law Section for more than 10 years. The Family Law Section is regularly consulted by the Federal government and the Courts about changes to family law and court procedures. As a result, Wendy is able to offer her clients the most up to date advice on family law and strategies to take advantage of future changes.

Wendy’s time as Chair of the Family Law Section (from 2016 to 2018) coincided with a period of great controversy and unprecedented attention on the reform of family law and the family law system. This included the Victorian Royal Commission into family violence, the Federal Parliamentary enquiry into the family law system and family violence, the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Family Law Review and the Federal Government’s proposal to restructure the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court.

Wendy was a member of the Advisory Committee to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Family Law Review, the most comprehensive review of family law and the family law sector in 40 years.

Wendy was also a member of the Advisory Committee to the Law Council of Australia’s 2018 Justice Project, chaired by former High Court of Australia Chief Justice, the Hon. Robert French. The Justice Project is one of the most comprehensive, national reviews into the state of access to justice in Australia in the past 40 years.

Wendy develops close and trusted relationships with her clients and the wide network of professionals that refer her work. Wendy’s approach is tailored to each individual client’s needs, recognising that for most people, the breakdown of a relationship is one of their most stressful and challenging experiences. Wendy brings a high attention to detail, strategic advice and a depth of expert knowledge about family law. Wendy has a commercial background and has acted for many clients with complex financial arrangements. She works closely with her clients’ accountants and other professional advisors to ensure that all the complexities of those arrangements, including tax impacts and restructuring, are dealt with as part of any settlement.

Wendy has undertaken extensive training in a wide range of social sciences that impact on families and their children, including family and domestic violence, parental alienation, personality disorders, drug and alcohol addiction and high conflict. Wendy’s clients benefit from her knowledge of the most up to date approaches by child psychologists and other experts to managing the post-separation care arrangements of children. Wendy has particular expertise in cases where one parent wants to relocate with the children interstate or overseas.

Wendy is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators and Victorian Women Lawyers.

Jemma Mackenzie

Senior Associate

University qualifications

Bachelor of Laws (Hons) Monash University
Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Monash University

Email Jemma Mackenzie

Other qualifications
Accredited Family Law Specialist,
Law Institute of Victoria

Connect on LinkedIn

Jemma is a Senior Associate at Forte Family Lawyers. She has worked predominantly in family law since being admitted to legal practice in December 2009.

Jemma obtained Specialist Accreditation as a Family Lawyer from the Law Institute of Victoria in 2015. Accreditation recognises the high level of knowledge and practical skills Jemma brings to each family law matter.

Jemma is mindful that the breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship can be a stressful and often overwhelming experience for clients. She works with her clients to identify appropriate pathways for resolving both parenting and property matters.

Jemma prides herself on her ability to effectively communicate what can be complex legal principles and to provide realistic, up to date and accurate legal advice at each stage of a matter.

Jemma has experience in a wide variety of family law matters including division of property, maintenance (including urgent applications), Financial Agreements (including Agreements made prior to marriage), care and living arrangements for children, child support and family violence – including Intervention Order proceedings.

Prior to joining Forte Family Lawyers, Jemma worked in a Bayside family law firm and a boutique firm in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. She has conducted litigation in both the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne and interstate.

In addition to her daily work with clients, Jemma has made presentations to financial advisors and medico-legal professionals about the family law system in Australia and what clients should know about family law prior to separating.

Jemma is a member of Victorian Women Lawyers, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia and the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria.

Jane Bentley

Senior Associate

University Qualifications

Masters of Applied Law (Family Law), College of Law

Bachelor of Laws, Victoria University

Bachelor of Science, University of Melbourne

Email Jane Bentley


Other Qualifications

Accredited Family Law Specialist, Law Institute of Victoria

Jane is a Senior Associate at Forte Family Lawyers. Jane is an Accredited Family Law Specialist as a recognised by the Law Institute of Victoria. Accredited Specialists demonstrate superior knowledge, experience and proficiency in their specialist area of law.

Additionally, Jane has undertaken a Masters of Applied Law in Family Law.

Prior to joining the firm, Jane has worked in both the private and community sectors where she worked on both complex parenting and property matters, regularly appeared in the Family Law Courts and through her work at a commercial firm Jane was able to build and enhance her commercial skills. Throughout her career, Jane has worked collaboratively with commercial lawyers providing advice where both family and commercial law intersect, as well as working directly with professionals on family law matters including psychologists, mediators, accountants and financial advisors.

Jane has a wide range of experience in different family law matters including financial agreements, family violence, parenting, IVF issues, matters involving grandparents, Hague Child Abduction Convention, child support, property and spousal maintenance.

Jane prides herself on her ability to communicate effectively with her clients during an emotional and challenging time. Jane builds strong relationships with her clients as she recognises that the legal system can appear complex and daunting and works with her clients to guide them through the process.

Jane is a member of the Courts Practice and the Property and Maintenance Committees of the Law Institute of Victoria which ensures that she is appraised of recent developments in family law and at the Family Law Courts. Jane is also a member of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia.

Matthew Beckmans

Senior Associate

University qualifications

Bachelor of Laws, University of Western Sydney

Email Matthew Beckmans

Connect on LinkedIn

Matthew commenced his legal career practising in a medium-sized rural law firm. Matthew is able to draw on his broad experiences over a number of practice areas, prior to practising exclusively in family law, to offer clients a well-rounded approach to tactically resolve complex legal issues.

Matthew has developed a special interest in complex disputes involving companies and trusts, insolvency and bankruptcy, taxation, and international/domestic relocation.  He also has a particular expertise in child support.

Matthew is aware and mindful of the financial challenges and restraints when attempting to resolve family law disputes, and sets out to achieve negotiated and cost effective outcomes which avoid court where possible. Matthew recognises the emotional issues attached to the breakdown of a relationship, and draws on his strong communication skills in demystifying the family law process, and to identify and explain possible options for resolution in a concise manner.

Matthew was a member of the steering committee of the Riverina Family Law Pathways Network, secretary of the South West Slopes Law Society, and a mock trial magistrate for the Law Society of New South Wales.

Prior to practising law, Matthew was rookie listed by the Sydney Swans, where he enjoyed a brief career.  He now plays for the Monash Blues in the VAFA.

Matthew is a member of the Family Law Sections of the Law Council of Australia and the Law Institute of Victoria.  He is on the Court Practice Committee of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria.

Vinh Nguyen


University qualifications

Bachelor of Laws, Deakin University

Bachelor of Commerce, Deakin University

Email Vinh Nguyen

Connect on LinkedIn

Vinh first worked at Forte Family Lawyers as part of his Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at the Leo Cussen Institute for Law in 2017. He joined Forte Family Lawyers as a lawyer after his admission into legal practice in October 2017 and has, since then, worked solely in family law.

Prior to his admission as a lawyer, Vinh worked as a paralegal in a community legal centre and in a property and commercial law firm, where he gained valuable experience in property transactions.

Vinh is a member of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, the Law Institute of Victoria and the Asian Australian Lawyers’ Association. Vinh also volunteers at the Darebin Community Legal Centre.

Vinh is fluent in Vietnamese.




Natasha Mastroianni


University Qualifications

Bachelor of Laws (Hons), Latrobe University

Bachelor of Arts, Latrobe University

Masters of Applied Law (Family Law), College of Law

Email Natasha Mastroianni




Connect on LinkedIn

Natasha Mastroianni has experience in a range of family law matters, including property settlements, financial agreements, parenting matters (including interstate and overseas relocation issues), child support and intervention order proceedings.

Natasha was admitted to practice in August 2014 and commenced her career in a generalist practice where she gained experience in family law, property law, wills and estates. Natasha worked in a boutique family law practice prior to commencing at Forte in February 2020.

Natasha has a Masters of Applied Law (Family Law) from the College of Law and speaks conversational Italian.

Having practical experience in other areas of law assists Natasha to understand the interrelated issues involved in her clients’ family law matters. She regularly appears on behalf of clients at Duty List Hearings and other Court events in the Federal Circuit Court, Family Court of Australia and the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria. Natasha also appears as a solicitor agent for interstate or rural practitioners when required.

Natasha prides herself on being able to understand and manage her clients’ expectations whilst providing realistic and practical advice. She acts with empathy and compassion when striving to achieve the best possible results for her clients.

Natasha is a volunteer lawyer with the Women’s Legal Service and is the Vice President of the Northern Suburbs Law Association. She is also a member of the Courts Practice Committee of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia and Victorian Women Lawyers.

Mark Di Donato


University Qualifications

Bachelor of Criminology and Justice, Navitas College of Public Safety

Juris Doctor, Monash University

Email Mark Di Donato


Connect on LinkedIn

Mark started work at Forte Family Lawyers as part of his Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at the Leo Cussen Institute for Law in 2019. Mark was later admitted into the legal practice in September 2019 and transitioned into a lawyer role with Forte Family Lawyers in February 2020.

Prior to his admission as a lawyer, Mark volunteered as a paralegal at Darebin Community Legal Centre and interned at a commercial law firm, where he gained valuable experience in property transactions and in intellectual property. Mark also completed a Professional Placement whilst completing his law degree where he provided legal advice on various family law matters through the Monash Law Clinic.

Mark is a member of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, and the Law Institute of Victoria. Mark volunteers at the Darebin Community Legal Centre and has provided advice on a range of issues including family law.