Going out on your own as a Criminal Defence Lawyer
Moving on … and up …
by Uzma Abbas, Solicitor
Working is a daily essential part of our lives, we feel valid, we want to be our best and achieve a great outcome for those we work for and with.
However, after working for the government and various agencies like Legal Aid and the Attorney General, I discovered that this can involve a change and shift in goals. I wanted to aspire to be something different, so after 10 years of public service, I did something most people would think is just a bit irresponsible, I left my full time and permanent job in public service, a safety net I had known for so long and walked out into the world of private legal practice on my very own.
Upon reflection 6 months after the big leap, I feel I have achieved a goal that actually now seems to come naturally, I feel I do can more for my client and for my sense of self.
I work at the hours that suit my client, I talk with my client through a plan, an end goal and most of all, I develop a useful caring rapport with my client that I didn’t have time to nurture before. Spending time is crucial to helping me develop a useful way to talk to the court about you as a person and helps my delivery come naturally and with certainty.
So why leave the comfort of the public service…
Public service provided an excellent platform to build experience, practice and develop ethical standards be exposed to a many clients each day with different problems, different cases and mostly unique lives. You master the skill of time management, handling different tasks at one time, being pulled and challenged by time restraints. I loved the rush, but like all things in life, the pace catches up with you and I asked myself if I wanted to ride this roller coaster for my whole career.
My first point of research into this conundrum was to look at what immediately was in front of me, my peers.
I was lucky to have developed immediate access to a rich mixture of practitioners including Magistrates, Judges, Public defenders, barristers, prosecutors, Aboriginal Legal Aid regional lawyers who I will always have the highest respect for and other well-established professionals with brilliant minds and experience.
The pattern that remained constant to achieve success was to remain challenged and keep moving, feeling the shift of almost being uncomfortable. I broadened the spectrum of seeking advice from all kinds of professionals both within and outside the legal field so I could make a move that I had really thought through. Using examples of great sportsman I had read about in (auto) biographies taught me that talent is born through change, good intentions and a whole lot of heart.
He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
So I changed, I felt uncomfortable and it was frightening but unreal.