I didn’t want to be a ‘lawyer’, I wanted to be an advocate and Criminal law is really where advocacy shines, so naturally, it felt like the best area for me. Or maybe is just comes from being an argumentative sod – in a constructive way of course! I studied and I got good grades … but I had no idea how I was going to get there, but I’d be darned if I didn’t!
Born in England, my career began 20 years ago. I’ll never forget my first court appearance. It was very straight forward – just a hand-up committal hearing – but I was absolutely petrified. I was headed to a Magistrates court in North West London; the court itself looked like some sort of concrete nuclear bunker, and to get there you had to walk past several wreckers’ car yards. I was dressed in my newly pressed three-piece suit, my stomach churning, dust and dirt blowing all around me as I trudged on. I arrived with absolutely no idea what I was doing, hoping I wouldn’t make a complete arse of myself. Which thankfully… I didn’t. I still remember getting the cheque for the matter – something like 60 pounds – about 2 months later and I photocopied it and still have it to this day.
When I passed my Bar exams in England in 1995, I swore blind I would never sit another law exam again. Except when my wife and I came to Australia in 2012, I had to complete another 9 academic units to be admitted as a lawyer over here. So, I started from the bottom, pouring over notes and completing assessments late at night. Except this time, whilst being a husband, working full time and a father to three young girls.
I remember a week before my 30th birthday, my tenancy was accepted into a chambers. A feat my university self had only dreamt of, but I’d done it. I’d finally been accepted into this new ‘family’. I soon realised how important these professional relationships would be throughout my career. A sense of family in this profession, is everything – personally and professionally. As a lawyer, I think it’s important to surround yourself with ethical practitioners who can be your sounding board and your support network.
Do law if it’s really want you want to do and if you value practising it in the right way. If you’re going into the profession just to make money – that’s the wrong attitude. By all means, set goals, but if that’s your main focus, I think that’s going to lead you down the wrong path and you could be lead astray and forget your true responsibilities. Work hard, be ethical and remember collegiality – that’s the key to this game.
While we were working from home, I managed to snaffle the office espresso machine because nobody else wanted it…but now we’re out and about – I’m back to my cappuccinos!
Lexi Kehl is the Queensland Law Society PR & Media Executive. If you’d like to sit down for a beverage or know someone with a great story to tell: firstname.lastname@example.org.