Of all the branches of law, family law is truly one of the most heartrending. Lacking the glitz and media attention of criminal law, family lawyers regularly see bitter divorces and ugly custody disputes, sometimes with innocent children caught in the middle. And yet, it is this branch of law that Chandra Flett, local barrister and solicitor with McMurray Law Office, has chosen as her calling. She’s one of those rare lawyers whose clients enter her office during the worst moments of their lives and leave feeling better about themselves and their future.
“I love the feeling of having truly helped someone,” says Flett, whose resume is crowded with academic awards and volunteer experience. “I have been witness to clients who initially walked through my door completely scared, angry, helpless and confused about their rights, and walked out transformed into individuals who are independent, confident, better parents and ready to face any obstacle that their new life will bring them.”
Sometimes it’s hard to keep from bringing your work home with you, but Flett has managed to turn the difficult aspects of her job into an opportunity for self-improvement. “Leaving the emotional nature of my work at the office is something I struggled with very much during the first few years of my practice, and it continues to be a challenge for me once in a while,” she admits. “My ultimate payoff after spending my work days helping broken families is coming home knowing that my two little boys are still fortunate enough to have their Mommy and Daddy in the same home and still loving each other. There isn’t any greater reward than that. Unless you can be successful at home, success at work doesn’t mean much.”
An active volunteer, Flett is co-president of the Fort McMurray Bar Association, sits on the boards of the Fort McMurray Food Bank and Some Other Solutions for Crisis Prevention, co-facilitates the Parenting After Separation Course and volunteers for the Fort McMurray Historical Society, and the Annual Law Day committee, all the while raising two young children. Flett says volunteering helps her maintain balance in her life. “A person’s work life has the potential to take over and make you forget about the amazing things that are happening in the community around you. It can also turn your mind away from how fortunate you are as compared to the many other people struggling to meet their own basic needs,” she says of why she includes volunteer work in her busy schedule.
Though she’s accomplished much already, Flett says she still has a lengthy “bucket list” that includes learning to surf, returning to university for another degree, travelling to Australia and adopting a sister for her two boys. “There are so many things and experiences I still want to do in my life,” she says.