Family law



Mona Vale local, Janet Winn, has gone from humble beginnings living in a tent to following in her mother’s footsteps by pursuing a career in law.

Police officer turned lawyer, Janet Winn, recalls spending much of her childhood living in a tent, followed by a caravan, with her mother, father, and brother. 

“We lived off solar power and pretty much felt like we were camping for the better part of my early years,” Janet says. 

This start in life instilled in her a high level of resilience to hard times and a strong attitude to dealing with life’s challenges. 

Janet witnessed the hard work and dedication her parents put into supporting their family, while also striving for bigger dreams. 

Although she says her upbringing was difficult, due to not having much money, Janet affirms she still grew up with a lot of love and values her ‘humble beginnings’. 

“My parents didn’t have a lot of money, but they had a lot of dreams,” she says.

“My dad was an artist, that was his passion, but art doesn’t pay the bills.

“My mother didn’t have a passion for law, per say, she had a passion for helping people.”

She was only four years old when her mother decided to pursue a career in law, which saw her relentlessly working hard for eight years. Janet says she clearly remembers her mum sitting by candlelight in the caravan, studying and handwriting all her essays. 

“I still remember sitting on my bed watching her study at the other end of the van and she would sit there for hours and hours reading and studying,” Janet says.

“Mum taught me perseverance and persistence in the face of adversity. I’ve never met someone that has worked as hard as her in my entire life.” 

Janet’s mum accomplished her goals of becoming a solicitor in 1996 and opening a law practice in Eastwood. 

While Janet says she was initially ‘disinterested’ in law, much to her own surprise she found herself pursuing a career in the police force as a police prosecutor in court.

“I loved it. As my husband says, ‘I love to argue,’” Janet laughs. 

Despite this, being in the force was not something she saw herself doing forever and so, unexpectedly, after 14 years she decided on a career shift to start studying law. 

Life had come full circle, as Janet ended up studying the exact same course as her mother had done many years before. 

“I initially didn't really have a passion for law, but I saw it as something that was going to provide for my future and my family, and I saw that that's what it gave her,” Janet explains.

While her mother eventually retired from law, Janet says she remains her biggest inspiration and motivation.

“Whether I like it or not I have definitely picked up a lot of her traits and learned a lot from her,” Janet says.

“When you see someone work so hard, it’s very hard for you to sort of not apply that same drive, whether you want to have that drive or not.

“She definitely taught me that you're just going to keep battling on.”

Following her mother’s footsteps allowed Janet to fulfil her dream of moving her family back to the Northern Beaches. 

She says her love of the beach and family connection to the area made it feel like they were ‘moving home’. 

Janet is thrilled to be ‘back to where it all began’ and says she will continue to work on the foundations that she was passed down from her mum, locally.

“It’s just a great little community. I’ve never felt that kind of community actually, it’s pretty cool,” she says. 

“I want to build my practice on the premise that I have compassion and understanding of people.”

Jess Clarke, Journalist, North Shore Living Magazine

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