2020 Winner of the Small Business Award, Mellissa Larkin epitomises the ethos of The Telstra Business Women’s Awards of “undoing traditional business for the better”.
Flinders University law graduate, Mellissa Larkin (BA/LLB/LP ’01) founded Peripheral Blue in 2016, with a powerful vision of creating a firm that emphasised emotional intelligence and treating clients as thought partners, while charging for the value of services received instead of a rigid ‘time spent’ billing model.
‘There will always be a place for BigLaw but its one-size-fits-all approach just didn’t fit the way I wanted to practice law,’ says Mellissa. ‘I’m driven to help the industry service its clients better and improve the way practitioners are supported.’
Walking away from almost two-decades in BigLaw took a giant leap of faith but Mellissa’s willingness to consider different ways of doing things, coupled with her vision to change the legal industry for the better, were her driving forces.
It was through adapting to the dynamic law school environment at Flinders that Mellissa experienced what it meant to be truly flexible in her approach.
‘There’s nothing quite like transitioning from high school as a merit winning humanities student, to having your work seriously red lined,’ says Mellissa. ‘The ability to be flexible and adjust to new ways of working has been integral to establishing a new firm.’
As a business leader, Mellissa models emotional intelligence with self-awareness and self-belief, alongside her entrepreneurial skills to form the foundation of Peripheral Blue.
Mellissa says her greatest learning since starting the firm is to have enough self-belief in your influence to affect change.
‘You need to be confident in the value you can provide and objective enough to quantify that value.’
While Peripheral Blue was formed to provide a new and more responsive service to clients, the mission has grown into advocating for much broader change in the traditional legal industry.
Winning the Telstra Business Women’s Small Business Award is recognition of accomplishing that change, but Mellissa hopes the award will become a greater platform.
She says, ‘I want to share our powerful vision for the future of legal practitioners in this country, promoting flexible and equitable legal workplaces.’