Principal lawyer Brian McGowran quotes rock lyrics when reflecting on 25 years as a Queensland Law Society (QLS) member.
“The best description is probably in the words to the AC/DC song: Getting old, getting grey; Getting beat up, underpaid; Getting had, getting took… I tell you folks, it’s harder than it looks,” he joked from Rockhampton.
And his long way to the top at McGowran & Cagney was celebrated on Friday at the Central Queensland Law Association conference. Brian was presented with a silver QLS pin by QLS President Chloé Kopilović.
QLS CEO Rolf Moses congratulates Brian.
Brian said he was inspired to practise law by a primary school teacher, Mrs Bannerman.
“In grade six, my teacher spoke about my friend Tony Martin’s dad Brian as being the top dog in the Northern Territory,” he said.
“He was Solicitor General of the NT at the time and I slept over Tony’s house which I thought was pretty fancy.
“As it turned out, his father became Chief Justice of the NT Supreme Court and he became a police officer.
“The thing that stuck was how reverentially Mrs Bannerman spoke about him. That’s when I knew I’d be a lawyer.”
Brian studied Law at Northern Territory University (now known as Charles Darwin University), graduating in May 1995. He began his career at Jeremy Moore & Associates in Adelaide in January 1996 and was admitted to practice in South Australia in March that year.
In 1997, Brian returned to Darwin and started work at Cecil Black & Associates. He also volunteered at the North Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service.
Brian relocated to Rockhampton in 1998 and was admitted to practice in Queensland on 5 February 1998.
“I ended up coming to Rocky simply because I was in Alice Springs and got offered a job with David Mills. I would have actually gone anywhere,” he said.
“After Brisbane though, I came back to Rocky because I met my wife on the way through to Brisbane, and I’m starting to think she’s been in charge since.”
He held several positions in the years that followed starting at David Mills & Associates in Rockhampton. Brian spent seven years working in Brisbane at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS) (1998-2001), and Legal Aid Queensland (2002-2005) which included a six-month secondment to the DPP.
In 2006, Brian established his own practice in Rockhampton, initially as Brian McGowran Solicitor, then McGowran Lawyers and now McGowran & Cagney Lawyers.
CQLA President Myles Heath at the function.
As for the challenges of establishing as a sole practitioner, Brian sets it out like this:
“I used the kids’ computer (sorry kids). Borrowed money against the house and told them, if it runs out, we’ll lose the house and we’ll be poor. After that, things worked out, and I thank my old employer Legal Aid Queensland for the assistance.”
Brian said being able to teach young lawyers was the best bit about his setting up the practice.
“The firm has won the Justice Dutney Award for Best Young Lawyer three times now, so I’ve got a bit of a handle on that.”
Brian is a sitting member of the Rockhampton Rugby Union Judiciary and has sponsored many community sporting groups, as well as the Rockhampton CQYLA Law Ball.
And it appears he enjoys attending functions.
“The 25-year pin meant that I got to give a speech and now be in Proctor! That’s the best bit. Yes, there’s stability, commitment and achievement and that sort of stuff, but giving a speech to the law crowd was the best bit of the milestone.”