Mel's Story

Melanie Dye - 14th Victorian Legal Awards Finalist, Mentor of the Year Award

IMCL is pleased to announce that our Principal Lawyer, Melanie Dye, has been nominated as a finalist for the Mentor of the Year Award at the 14th Victorian Legal Awards.

Held in the evening of Friday 18 May, the Victorian Legal Awards are dedicated to acknowledging the outstanding achievements of Victorian legal professionals, and publicly recognise those who demonstrate excellence in legal practice.

Melanie leads a dynamic and talented team of lawyers and volunteers to deliver the best quality legal service and support to those most in need in the local community.

In her 18 years within the access to justice sector, Melanie has become a well-recognised community lawyer, known for her management of legal teams and projects and strategic leadership (as well as her large and playful earrings).

“I am honoured to be nominated for a legal award in an area that I am passionate about,” says Melanie.

“I am passionate about supporting people who strive to make a difference”.

As IMCL’s Principal Lawyer since 2014, she has had an unwavering commitment to creating a positive workplace culture that enables staff to achieve their full potential. This means supporting staff to feel purposeful, motivated and energised at work.

In her view, key to achieving this is creating connection. 

“When people feel connected to and cared for by their organisation and the community they serve, and find meaning in the work that they do, they will bring forward their best selves.”

Importantly, Melanie believes that if a lawyer is happy, it will undoubtedly have flow-on effects on the culture of an organisation and outcomes for clients.

“In the community legal centre context, this can positively impact our clients. When my staff are at their best, I can be confident that this will lead to positive client interactions, and ultimately the best possible legal and health outcomes for them.”

A lack of professional guidance in the early days of her own career motivated Melanie to take on a mentoring role, including establishing and chairing a Principal Lawyers Network, a forum convened to allow senior managers in the sector an opportunity to learn and share best practice management experiences.

“The old-school method of management does not bring out people’s best self or their best work,” she explains.

“There are benefits for everyone in taking a more person-centered approach to management,” Melanie says.

“What we do is more than just a job. It’s a big part of who we are and we can’t lose sight of the personal toll it can have. The very nature of working in the law requires that lawyers must strategically stop and build in a resilience plan,” says Melanie.

Melanie explains that resilience is about recharging not enduring so that performance can be sustained and burn out avoided.

"Just because work stops, doesn’t mean we are recovering," she says.

Melanie looks to Andrew May’s Recovery Rocket, a model that builds in regular periods to recharge, revitalise and renew. 

Melanie also sees her mentoring role as an opportunity to build the capacity of the community law sector. In Melanie's view, at present there are very few opportunities for the growing number of law graduates and she hopes to see more pathways for new lawyers into community law.

Mentoring also allows Melanie to develop enduring relationships. One of her greatest joys is contacting a community lawyer that she mentored early in their career and asking them in turn for help and guidance. 

"Mentoring is a two way street – and the benefits just keep giving," she reflects.

IMCL wishes Melanie the best of luck, and congratulates all other finalists.

You can find out more about IMCL's current staff here.