Thriving on Change and Challenge
Author: Kristen Beckhaus
When someone says they grew up on a farm, one instantly imagines an idyllic childhood, spent playing in grassy fields, riding horses, feeding chickens, or milking cows.
For Kristen Beckhaus, catching crayfish in dams on a lazy Saturday afternoon was a favourite way to pass the time in Northwestern NSW.
But everything changed for her when she was sent to an all-girls boarding school in Sydney at the age of 12. While educationally, she believes it was the best thing that could have happened to her, living with loads of teenage girls for the majority of the year, and only visiting her beloved farm home during school holidays, definitely challenged her.
However, she believes those challenges, and the skills she acquired to deal with them, helped develop the woman she is today, as director and sole private solicitor at Beckhaus Legal in Nambour.
“I know now that I need that constant change and challenge to keep me interested in what I’m doing. I also get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people,” she said.
These qualities subsequently led her to obtain a Bachelor of Commerce and Law at the University of NSW, and pursue a career in the legal profession.
Returning from an 18-month work assignment with an IT company in London, Kristen completed her Law degree and relocated to Brisbane. Her legal career began as a prosecutor for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, in the regional office at Beenleigh.
After two-and-a-half years and, by now, quite familiar with the Criminal Code (Qld), she made the decision to move into private practice in 2006, working for H Drakos & Company in West End. It was a job she loved. For seven years, she worked on civil and commercial litigation, criminal matters, wills and estates, and leasing. There was never a dull moment, and there were challenges aplenty!
“I love that the law is always changing and evolving and you’re continuously required to keep learning new things,” she said.
For some time, however, the Sunshine Coast had been beckoning. Her family had been living there since the 1980s and Kristen always wanted to join them, but hadn’t found the right employment opportunity. It arose on a trip to the Sunny Coast for Melbourne Cup Day in 2013.
Word had spread that she was looking for a new position, and when long-time family lawyer, Warren Gardiner, offered to sell her his law practice, the deal was done. Ms Beckhaus found herself the head of her own legal firm and, by Christmas 2013, she had moved to her dream location for family, and her dream job.
Kristen prides herself on being a little different from most lawyers. Having learned from two of the ‘most approachable’ lawyers she knows, as a solo practitioner with a general practice, she is wholly dedicated to providing personalised, hands-on service to every client who comes through the door. With one staff member to assist with conveyancing, being constantly available to answer client queries has placed her in a class all her own.
She helps clients with a range of different issues, from the elderly couple seeking to renew their Wills, to the young couple buying their first home, to the person wanting to purchase a new or existing business. Being willing to share her personal experiences with clients as well, has added to her point of difference.
“I’m quite open to discussing my personal experiences with clients, particularly as a new business owner. I find a lot of my commercial clients appreciate this. I know the laws that govern what they’re doing, but I also understand first-hand, issues with employing staff, paying taxes, getting paid, and more. It sometimes makes me a little more human to talk about these things, I think.”
Being vested in her community is something Kristen is quite passionate about. As a board member of the Nambour Tramway Company, she has become involved in Tramfest events, council meetings, and securing approximately $500,000 in federal funding for the new Tram project.
“I’ve seen how passionate people are about Nambour, and watching it change and evolve has become quite exciting. The implementation of the tram has the potential to change the whole character of Howard Street. I had no idea what potential it had and what amazing things it can do for Nambour!”
She’s a woman who has learned to thrive on change, new challenges, and helping others. And it will be exciting to see what lies in store for her future.