Dr Frank Dwyer could see the benefits of forging relationships with Japan back in the eighties and encouraged his son Frank to study Japanese and law.
That encouragement paid off professionally and personally for Frank, who not only met his wife Kairo in Japan but forged a successful legal career. His 25-year career was recognised at the Queensland Law Society (QLS) Celebrate, Recognise, Socialise Event on the Gold Coast on Thursday night.
“I fell into my legal career I suppose. I was 16 when I finished grade 12, so too young to know what to do with my life,” Frank, who is DW Legal firm’s Principal and QLS accredited specialist in Business Law since 2012, recalled.
“I got the entrance score to do a variety of courses but my father encouraged me to do the then combined QUT law course and GU Arts degree focusing on Japanese language and international relations.
“Once I started at law school, I quite enjoyed the logic of it all, and I enjoyed the workload. By the time I finished uni, I was then attracted to a career in law and in particular, I wanted to work at a private law firm.
“My father wanted us to study Japanese at school because he could see that there was a lot of money flowing into Australia from Japan back then (late ’80s to early ’90s) so he saw an opportunity.
“My high school John Paul College had exchange relationships with Japanese schools. I was lucky to be chosen to go to Japan as part of that, in 1986. My parents gave me an ear for languages, so I picked up the Japanese language fairly readily. Then I studied Japanese at GU as part of the Arts degree. Then after I finished at QUT in 92, I won a scholarship to study Japanese law at a Japanese university. A wonderful opportunity.
“So I spent two years in Japan studying law in Japanese between ’93 and ’94. I learned a lot and formed many lifelong relationships, including my wife. Then in legal practice, I was hired at my first firm mainly because I spoke Japanese. I have continued to act for Japanese clients throughout my career, providing advice in Japanese.”
Frank is the Founding Partner of DW Legal where he was Partner from 2008 – 2019, before joining Small Myers Hughes Lawyers in 2019 as Special Counsel.
In 2023, Frank returned to DW Legal as the firm’s Principal, specialising in business, property and workplace relations law. The firm also provides legal services in Japanese for Japanese businesses in Australia, and Australian businesses operating in Japan.
And Frank is “the happiest I have been in practice, right now”.
“Starting in ’95, I worked for seven years at a now national firm. It was challenging and I always enjoy working in teams, but I eventually figured out that I was better off on my own; implementing my own vision and finding my own future,” he said.
“In my own firm, I continue to work with my wonderful office manager, work with referrers who want the best for me, do a variety of interesting work, and work 12-hour days happily. I am growing and progressing. I receive satisfactory financial rewards, decide who I work for, in an office overlooking the Gold Coast skyline. As for challenges, I suppose that I don’t have a day off, but I don’t really want one.”
Frank said he was grateful for his experience working at other firms, and “wouldn’t want that adventure any other way”.
“I have been blessed and I am incredibly grateful for the career that I have had so far. Now to the future!
“Well, to get the most out of myself in the balance of my time in practice, then there is not a moment to lose. First priority is to grow my firm and have a team of enthusiastic and creative lawyers and support staff to provide excellent legal solutions and advice, with good service.
“Next, I would like to expand my skill set, probably into taxation law so I wish to study more. Next, I would like to teach more. For example, I would love to present at more seminars, including seminars with the Law Society which I enjoyed previously. I am thinking of a YouTube podcast about employment law. The future is so exciting and I wake up every day with a spring in my step.”
Frank said he was “ceaselessly grateful to my wife, my daughters and extended family”.
“Professionally, I thank all my masters for teaching me what kind of lawyer and what kind of man I should become.”
Past and present pin recipients on stage.
QLS President Chloé Kopilović, who presented the membership pins, also recognised the newly admitted practitioners at the event – Danielle Bunning, Marius Eden, Danielle Egan, Rhiannon Herne, Andrea Lee, Chantelle Martin, Joanna McNae, Alexandra Smiroldo and Benita Sorensen.
“It is vital we build on the foundations of past success by equipping the next generation of lawyers with the skills and knowledge at the heart of a thriving career,” she said.
“A career that will hopefully prove as long and illustrious as those exhibited by our pin recipients – both past and present.”