IF THERE is a common stereotype for the average litigation lawyer, then Gadens’ Rowena Specht-Whyte probably wouldn’t fit the bill. A solicitor by day, for the last four years Specht-Whyte has performed as lead vocalist in a Brisbane rock band.
Specht-Whyte’s band Never has been touring the Brisbane live scene, is promoted on Triple J Unearthed and launched their first album in 2007. While Never takes a six-month break before its next move, Specht-Whyte is still devoting her time outside of the firm to music — by writing for side outfit Black Collar Project.
And, despite living a very full life outside the law, Specht-Whyte spends her days specialising in commercial litigation and insolvency in Gadens Brisbane office.
So how do clients react to her life outside the box? “They’re usually a bit surprised,” she says. “They usually see me wearing a suit because I’m off to court, so they don’t expect it.”
It may be a surprise, but it’s one that Specht-Whyte says usually provokes a positive response: “I think a lot of clients see lawyers in their own minds as very one-dimensional. They think: ‘You love the law and we don’t understand it, so you’re a bit odd.’”
And, it seems, the rockstar lifestyle can actually assist in the recruitment process. “I had it (music) on my CV under leadership as to what I’ve been doing,” she says. “I also put a Myspace link in there as well.”
Meanwhile for fans, band-mates and friends outside of the law, the response to discovering her day job is even more fascination: “It’s an absolute shock,” she says. “It’s so different to the image. Law can be seen as very dry, where music is fuelled by passion and emotions.”
As for the venues Never performs at, Specht-Whyte ensures they fulfil their obligations and don’t attempt to sidestep any payments. “The music venues can’t get away with anything with us. I often throw the fact that I’m a lawyer into the first conversations.”
Describing her music as progressive rock, and a female vocalist version of heavy rock band Tool, Specht-Whyte dismisses any concern about a conflict between music and her work as a lawyer.
She believes that her passion for music is something any well-rounded person has. “I don’t see why music is such a concern, because people have passions for lots of different things. But there is always the glamour that people see in the music industry — they think: ‘Oh you’ll get caught up in it’,” she says.
Gadens, adds Specht-Whyte, has been instrumental in providing the space for her to explore her passion. They’ve not only nurtured her in exploring her music career on the side, but also been happy for her to promote her music and show internally.