Johanna Byrne is not your average florist.
She’s a mum to seven kids, for one thing.
Five of her own, and two step-children to her partner, Jaimie. She was living in Coffs Harbour, doing her floristry thing when her eldest son, who has an intellectual disability, got in trouble with the law.
He was an 18-year-old with an intellectual disability. So so she did what any mum would do, she went into bat for him, but had trouble finding a legal eagle who would help her.
Then he finally found one.
Scott James, a Coffs Harbour Solicitor, who told her to go away and build her case.
And when she did, presenting him with her argument for a scheme that would divert him out of the criminal justice system, and into the treatment he needed, he told her she was wasting her time as florist.
Instead, he said, she should pursue a career in law.
So the 45-year-old took this advice, swapped tulips for Torts, and went back to University as a mature age law student. After 16 years arranging flowers, she says it was….well….a culture shock.
“It was scary. I had no idea. After not studying after twenty years, I thought, ‘Oh my God, what have I got myself into? I have no idea what these people are talking about.” she said.
Her friends said she was crazy, too. Insane.
“They said ‘Why are you swapping? You are leaving a career you’ve known all your life. Why would you want to do this?'”