Ten years ago, I embarked on a journey of working as a criminal lawyer in Sydney. I wanted to provide clients and the community with the right guidance and a high quality of service at an affordable price, without compromising on quality in preparation and representation in court.
Getting a foot in the door as a young lawyer trying to make it in this big world is extremely difficult in today’s competitive world. It was no different for me, who first started working for free for over half a year desperately trying to gain some valuable experience to be worth an employer giving me a job.
As excited as I was, I had no idea what I was in for. After working for free for some time, I was offered my first paid job as a young criminal defence lawyer from the same law firm in the city.
I then began my career working in one of Australia’s busiest and largest criminal defence law firms in Sydney at the time. This allowed me to broaden my skills to a level I would never have achieved in any other firm at the time. I learned my strengths and weaknesses, which I later developed and perfected over the years. I travelled all over the country, representing clients from all walks of life, and those in need at remote areas where there is limited to no experienced criminal or traffic lawyer available.
In the beginning of my journey, I experienced the “goods and bads” of this job. However, going through those hard yards, hard work and experience, I wouldn’t have become the kind of experienced, results driven lawyer, I now am.
For example, my experiences there shaped and narrowed my view of what a criminal defence lawyer should do, but actually ends up doing. I immediately discovered the level of pressure young lawyers are faced with in having the pressure of budgets to meet every month. This often caused young lawyers to take on more clients than they can handle in a desperate attempt to meet a budget for the month, in order to justify to an employer as to why they deserve to stay in the job. This more often than not compromised the quality of preparation, communication and representation in court for cases. All at the expense of the person who is placing complete trust in their lawyer to put them in the best possible position in their case.
It shouldn’t be all about the money, but about helping people in very difficult times. Having obtained my experience in representing people from all walks of life in all corners of this country, I was then offered an exceptional opportunity to work for my next employer, where I commenced as a senior lawyer, and then the Managing Senior Lawyer in not only representing high profile and complex cases, but managing up to 7 senior lawyers in the firm.
Whilst working here, I was faced with no budgets to meet, a great work environment, and excellent support staff which allowed my skills to truly flourish to provide an exceptionally high quality of service without the burden and pressures of meeting budgets, instead a focus on high quality legal advice and court representation.
Here, I learned the importance of providing a high quality service, which encompassed direct and regular client communication, and a focus on getting charges dropped at an early stage of the case, regardless of the fact this would result in the client paying less money for their case – a concept other law firms would often avoid for obvious reasons.
To my surprise, my experience here taught me that success can and does in fact come from providing high quality service without the focus on trying to bill clients as much as possible.
Without having budgets allowed me to be less stressed, work in a more peaceful environment, and truly enjoy being a criminal defence lawyer in achieving exceptional results for clients.
After gaining this experience through hard work, I decided to provide the same quality legal representation and advice with a focus on getting charges dropped early in the next step of my career in now starting my own specialised criminal defence law firm in Parramatta.
My journey has carved me opportunities in TV interviews, Radio talk shows, and newspaper articles over the years.
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in being a successful criminal defence lawyer isn’t about meetings budgets, and making as much money as possible for an employer, at the expense of clients. It’s about helping and guiding people in very difficult times of their lives, good level of communication, high quality service, hard work, and a focus on achieving the best possible outcome in the situation, all at an affordable legal cost.