2021 Agnes McWhinney award recognises a ‘resolution revolutionist’

Zinta Harris, winner of this year’s QLS Agnes McWhinney award says this career highlight means the ‘resolution revolution’ she introduced to the world of Succession law wasn’t such a crazy idea after all!

The Agnes McWhinney award is named after Queensland’s first admitted female solicitor. Agnes was an ordinary woman who broke new ground – an ‘accidental hero’. Each year, the award recognises a woman in the legal profession who has facilitated a pathway in the profession for those around her.

“I LOVE that this award is given to ‘accidental’ trailblazers,” Zinta says.

“Because it means that anyone who feels that they have something to give back to the profession can blaze the next ‘accidental’ trail, just by using their voice and experience to challenge the status quo.’

“That’s all I’ve done. I’ve have just looked for a way I can leave my estates law world a better place; then put my shoulder to the wheel.”

A successful author, Accredited Succession Law & Business Law Specialist, Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator, Zinta is also the owner and founder of Resolve Estate Law’ (formerly Harris Law).

She champions an untraditional approach of applying the ‘collaborative practice’ dispute resolution model to the wills and estates space to offer those who have lost a loved one an early, out of court settlement pathway.

After 25 years of practising wills and estate law, Zinta’s focus changed once she had her own children and began to consider how she could really contribute to the legal profession in her ‘twilight years’.

After thinking long and hard about the type of legacy she wanted to leave for the next generation, she soon realised she needed to think outside the traditional legal box.

“The biggest thing I’ve learnt is that it’s okay to practice law to solve client problems in a real, human way,” Zinta says.  

“If I could change one thing in the legal profession, it would be to spread more compassion, kindness and constructive communication within the profession.’

“I would love to see us operating collaboratively as positive problem-solvers rather than as adversaries – and to see more of a focus on the humans we serve rather than on the ‘win’ that always comes with a cost.”

Zinta is currently working on a legal tech specialist probate and intestacy program called ‘Navigating Inheritance’, which she hopes will meet the needs of clients who can’t necessarily afford a lawyer but don’t want to take the risk of cheap service that doesn’t cover all the bases.

Her ‘big picture dream’ is to witness Collaborative Practice for Wills & Estates spoken about as a “mainstream” dispute resolution option for families and to encourage others (particularly women) who may be questioning themselves and their purpose in the legal profession, to keep on keeping on.  

“[To those] who might be feeling battle-wearing and perhaps questioning their place in the profession – there is a new horizon coming. As women, now in numbers begin to use their collective voice and experience to challenge the status quo in a profession built largely by men for men – things will begin to change,” Zinta says.

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