Making her own success story
‘‘We saw the best of people, and the worst of people,’’ says Rachel Black.
‘‘But I never lost my belief in the ultimate kindness of the human spirit.’’
Taking the leap from being a community advocate to family law felt pretty natural, says the former Marlborough Women’s Refuge manager.
Black has been appointed branch manager for Ebborn Law in Blenheim, where she will oversee operations across the top of the south.
Black is well-known to many community services, police and government agencies through her 16-year stint with Women’s Refuge.
Ebborn Law is the largest provider of family legal aid in New Zealand, which attracted Black to the job.
Black says she has always been a staunch advocate for equal opportunities and access to legal resources, especially for families.
‘‘During my time at Plunket, before I joined the refuge movement, I saw people struggling to feed their children and themselves and so they would go hungry.
‘‘Convincing my colleagues of this was an uphill battle, because they themselves had come from lives of privilege and found it hard to believe that deprivation existed in New Zealand.’’
Black says it was the success stories she saw through working at Women’s Refuge that motivated her to work in areas of social justice.
‘‘We ran an amazing women’s programme ... There were a lot of success stories.
‘‘When women contact you maybe months or a couple of years later, they’d say, ’Hey remember me? This is where I am, this is what I am doing now. Things are really great, you know, I’m safe, I’m healthy, and the children are doing great’.
‘‘That was really rewarding for me.
‘‘Every one of those stories is a success, but even a woman walking in the door is a success in its own way. Because that’s a huge step to take.’’
Black says Ebborn Law recognised her experience as an asset to the new role in family law.
‘‘My values and thoughts around social justice fit really well with this firm because they have the same values,’’ Black says. ‘‘I think my knowledge around working with clients, and my experience with domestic and sexual violence is recognised as a value.’’
And while it was hard to leave Women’s Refuge behind, Black is confident it’s in good hands.
She says things have changed for the better around domestic violence in the community.
For now, Black’s job begins with making connections with other offices in the top of the south.
‘‘My role and my aim is to make this branch office a success. I guess for me, I’m lucky that I know a lot of people in the social service agencies, and I’ll be making the same connections with similar agencies in Nelson and Motueka,’’ Black says.
Ebborn Law chief executive Jarrod Coburn says the firm takes a holistic approach to law, and that Black fits right into their philosophy of connecting people, communities and services.
Black’s first major event will be a free family law workshop in Blenheim early next year.
Rachel Black leaves Women’s Refuge after 16 years as she heads up operations for Ebborn Law across the top of the south.