March 21, 2017
The framework of your practice determines the impact of your creativity.
I am fortunate to have met and interviewed one of my community’s amazing female leaders. I love speaking to different people from all different industries and perspectives and asking them about creativity in their work or in their practice.
Khayshie Tilak-Ramesh is 19 and in her third-year studying Law with La Trobe University. Nervously, I Facebooked her to see if we could meet and talk about how creativity informs what she does as citizen of the world.
She passionately believes in delivering her profession within a practice of compassion. A practice of compassion empowers people to be better at creatively addressing a problem and understanding how everyone may be impacted. This ensures outcomes that are good for everyone. In her profession, she calls this a “lawyer as healer”.
In the feed of LinkedIn, I first discovered her and the roles she holds in our community. When you read about them, I think you will know why I was a little nervous contacting her. But I am so glad I did. One of my clients imparted upon me a small but highly useful pearl of wisdom—change happens when you step out of your comfort zone and ‘smile and dial’.
Perhaps if I put them together into a list for you to be impressed by (remembering that this young woman is 19 years old).
Khayshie is a:
• Red Cross Young Humanitarian,
• Junior board director of Community Leadership Loddon Murray,
• Co-founder and Vice President of Young People for Refugees,
• Named in the Top 100 Future leaders of Australia,
• and is the 2017 Bendigo Young Citizen of the Year.
Her sister and a lecturer showed her how to be what she calls a ‘light.’
“Social justice is something that is intrinsically driven within me,” Khayshie shares with me. “When I see something that isn’t right, it makes me mad and I know it makes others mad—social justice is a great mover”.
She describes her older sister as a “crash test dummy,”—unlike her sister, Khayshie is loud and outgoing. Her sister taught her with her quiet and reserved way, the importance of being an individual, showing her right from wrong. She laughs, “My sister really has it all together—she showed me that it is OK to be in the nerdy group and not involved in the status quo”.
“I never did law at high school,” Khayshie grins. “It was my sister who did legal studies and raved to me about it.” Now her sister is a student of medicine. “I put down law as a joke for my sister and I got in! “Now I find myself in a place compelled to be a lawyer. I remember when I started studying, she said to me, ‘It might not feel right at the moment, but you can push through’. She believed in me, so I believed in myself.”
It was her lecturer, Chris Casey, who introduced her to the concept of “lawyer as healer”.
Khayshie explains, “Instead of the traditional practice of lawyer and client interaction of ‘I know more than you,’ it is the practice of ‘I see you have a problem. I have some extra knowledge that I can help you with.’ ”
Her true desire is to explode the notion of a lawyer being a “gun for hire,” and that law is seen instead as a service of healing and compassion.
At her first placement at the family law court, her role was to interview applicants and listen to their issues and identify the legal issues. “I was exposed to the emotional side of the law very early.” She goes on to say, “It is easy for a lawyer to forget that they work with people and not cases. I am passionate to bring empathy to law.”
As an intern under Chris and her recent scholarship award to travel to Candia to Longueuil, Montreal in Canada. She has been chosen to be a research assistant to a professor who is studying alternative dispute resolution processes and how to move away from litigation.
Again, here is Khayshie’s sister’s influence. “My sister was complaining to me that she lost marks because she didn’t refer the patient to community support groups. It hit me that doctors are learning how to be compassionate and to care for vulnerable people—why aren’t lawyers?”
Khayshie’s scholarship is to study the benefits of empathy training from medicine, and discover how these learnings can be transferred into law. “When lawyers are empathetic, we can solve more problems and save people from further painful mental anguish.”
Read a recent story by ABC Radio National how lawyers have adjusted their style to manage trauma associated with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
“People are drawn to light.” Finding that when she started talking to friends and family about people who are refugees and the issues that they face in their life, she found there were lots of people who felt the same way. “People want to get involved and they are attracted to innovation.”
“Lots of people have ideas but are afraid to say them. If you give them a safe platform to speak out, they will.”
Wearing her PJs with a nice top, Khayshie recorded a YouTube video singing with her guitar, as a pitch to her friends to join her on ‘live below the line’. “I was so surprised when I won the pitch competition (adding an additional $500 to her fundraising campaign). I didn’t have any professional equipment—it really showed me that even when you are just one person, you can make a difference. I was inspired to do more.”
“If you create little instances of inspiration, and people grow in power to believe in themselves and then they inspire others—it is like a train of inspiration.”