By Brett Kennedy
TAKING the reins of the highly regarded DeGaris Lawyers legal firm, Donna Jaeschke knows she has big shoes to fill as Bill and Lyn DeGaris enter semi-retirement.
Forging its reputation over 44 years trading at Mount Gambier and Millicent, Ms Jaeschke (nee Edwards) proudly became a full partner of the legal practice earlier this month and will now manage the business’ daily functions.
While Ms Jaeschke always held high hopes she would one day lead the practice where she has honed her craft for almost 11 years, that reality has arrived quicker than anticipated.
As Bill and Lyn DeGaris plan to relocate closer to family in Adelaide, four decades on from the promise Bill made to return to the capital city “shortly”, Ms Jaeschke is proudly forging her own path in the city which helped shape her.
Moving to Mount Gambier with her family as a five year old, Ms Jaeschke was educated in the region before moving to Adelaide to study law.
After four years at university, Ms Jaeschke returned home in December 2009, ahead of the final year of her degree, and completed all practical assessments while at DeGaris Lawyers.
By February 2011 Ms Jaeschke was admitted as a lawyer in South Australia and has been an Associate Partner of the firm for the last seven years.
“Being in a rural legal practice as opposed to a city firm, there is a such a large scope for the work you can do,” Ms Jaeschke said.
“In a city firm you can often be relegated to one area,” she said.
“Here I’ve been able to experience a vast range of law.”
Community is a core motivator for Ms Jaeschke and her regional roots have helped fuel her career pathway.
“I’ve always loved the community aspect of Mount Gambier and the region,” she said.
“I enjoy all those things that everyone does – like playing at a local netball club and being involved in a local football club.”
It is Ms Jaeschke’s community-minded approach which appealed to Mr DeGaris and fills him with confidence that she will continue the legal firm’s sterling legacy.
“I think she is a natural listener, a good recorder of facts and I think she provides advice to people in a very matter of fact way,” Mr DeGaris said.
“I am delighted, we are very lucky to have a good group of lawyers and practitioners in the practice,” he said.
Mr DeGaris will continue to practice, visiting Mount Gambier fortnightly to consult with clients, provide professional services to the community and support the firm.
Ms Jaeschke is supported by lawyers Heidi Hancock, Nick Kidman, Jonathon Brohier and Dajana Vujica, conveyancer Amanda Pascoe and loyal staff Kris Allen, Amber Kidman, Deb Van Riet, Angela Turner, Emma Soper, Anna Haskas and Nikki Blackwell.
“With the group we have working with us now I am sure the future of DeGaris Lawyers is assured and I look forward to watching the firm increase its service provision to the Limestone Coast community for many years to come,“ Ms Jaeschke said.