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Regional Profile: Griffith

Regional Profile: Griffith

Cater & Blumer Solicitors was established in 1923 in Griffith by Rupert Cater and Paul Blumer. The firm has had an office in Leeton for about 13 years and has been visiting Hillston since…

Cater & Blumer Solicitors was established in 1923 in Griffith by Rupert Cater and Paul Blumer. The firm has had an office in Leeton for about 13 years and has been visiting Hillston since before World War II and Coleambally for 10 years.

The practice is incorporated and employs 34 people across its offices including nine legal practitioners. The firm also offers the services of a rural counsellor, Peter Gerard-Smith, who provides financial advice to farmers and rural businesses as well as succession planning.

Gerard-Smith is also a qualified mediator and conducts bank debt mediations when farmers or businesses have difficulty meeting their loans.

Ian Geddes, who joined the firm in 1981 and is now the principal, says the firm is a general country practice. It provides services in probate, litigation, criminal and family law, commercial disputes, personal injury and also acts for local governments.

The firm's conveyancing arm relates to land and business, but also water sales, which has been a big growth area over the last seven years since the deregulation of the industry, says Geddes.

The economic climate has not had much effect at all compared to the drought, which has impacted on the area for eight years, says Geddes.

"A lot of farmers don't want to sell or purchase other farms. They're just battening down the hatches and not spending money and then that affects a lot of business in town ... So that has an effect on our conveyancing side and business advice - or buying and selling of business or farms in particular. There just hasn't been a lot of that happening," he says.

Geddes says the great thing about working in a country firm is the broad range of work.

"I have a matter at the moment where there is an irrigation project which has not taken place properly and the property owner has lost significant amounts of money and it will probably end up being worth about three or four million dollars. So something like that can come across your desk and then the next client might have a power of attorney, so it's always interesting and varied work," he says.

Geddes says one of the biggest myths is professionally trained people across the board and those who have grown up in Sydney or in capital cities who don't think that life is as good in the country as it is in the city.

"Whereas your quality of life is generally far better [here]. Unless you go to the beach all the time or the opera every week you have all the facilities, especially in larger country towns. But you don't have to put up with the problems of the city and in particular [long] travel [times] to and from work," he says.

Geddes encourages those considering their legal career to think about a country firm.

"You get a great variety of work, a lot of face-to-face contact, sometimes a lot more responsibility at an earlier stage of your career than you get in larger city firms," he says.

"The other good thing in the country is, especially around our area, we've got a great legal profession and professional camaraderie which just makes it so much easier in dealing with people's clients and being able to resolve matters or issues ... we can have frank discussions which are in the client's interest to try and resolve problems to the client's benefit."

- Sarah Sharples

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