find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
The call of the country life

The call of the country life


Cairns lawyer John Bottoms reveals the many perks of being a regional practitioner.

I suppose it was trips with my general surgeon father to the various country towns around Albury (where I grew up) during the long lazy days of summer that really hooked me on Australian country life.

I vividly remember my father’s medical work trips – where I would sit in the back of the parked car in a little country town, with the windows down, my favourite book to hand, listening to the birds and smelling the scent of eucalyptus trees.

I would go for walks around the streets of the sunny bright and lazy country towns, admiring the comfortable red-brick bungalows while my father was busy in the local hospital. Someone would always remember to come get me from my wanderings and I would be brought into the large comfy verandahs while talks of medical procedure wafted over me in the background.

The houses always had pleasant (if sometimes, because of their busy occupants’ occupations, dishevelled) gardens – but it was the sunshine, the birds and the scent of flowers that persuaded me that one could lead a very busy, interesting and involved professional life in the country.

It was walking along the beach at Palm Cove, north of Cairns, on another holiday when I became infatuated with Far North Queensland. As I looked at the rainforest-clad hills gently dipping into the coconut-fringed beaches and coral seas, I thought: “I’d love to live here.”

I fell in love with the tropical nights, the warmth – the constant warmth and never cold – then the people. Real people.

I am sure I would have been just as happy in a NSW country town, but there was something extra-romantic about the reef, the rainforest and the wilderness beyond that made the move far away from family and friends seem more than worthwhile. In fact, the family decided to retire up here and friends seemed to visit far more often than when I lived down south.

Now, with a Supreme Court judge, two District Court judges, five magistrates and lots of barristers – from a legal point of view, the town is more than busy.

Palm trees, mangoes and avocados aside, the quality of legal work offered in provincial Australia generally is excellent.

As a regional practitioner, I have been to the High Court three times, once as the instructing solicitor in the Wik case for the Thaayorre-speaking peoples of Pormpuraaw, instructing the late Sir Maurice Byers QC.

On a later occasion, I was less successful in trying to convince the High Court that the right to drink was a human right.

The two American divers, Tom and Eileen Lonergan, who disappeared off Port Douglas some years ago, resulted in the prosecution of the dive company and we represented the dive boat skipper, who was acquitted.

Work-life balance is very easy to talk about, but very hard to achieve. My suggestion for the easiest way to do so is to put yourself in a place where it is very nice to live – be that country NSW, country Victoria or tropical Far North Queensland. That gets you in the right place.

Thereafter, it is up to you: it is my strong view that pleasant homes, pleasant people and a generally relaxed existence is much more easily obtained in the country than on the 32nd floor of Grosvenor Place.

Everyone works hard, but legal professionals in regional Australia tend to all know each other so they are polite and friendly.

I am very content, and I suggest you will be too if you throw away your three-piece pinstripe suit and come out to the country.

John Bottoms is the principal of Bottoms English Lawyers in Cairns.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

The call of the country life
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
Dec 15 2017
Timing ‘critical’ in unusual contempt of court ruling
A recent case could have interesting implications for contempt of court rulings, according to a Ferr...
Dec 14 2017
International arbitration and business culture
Promoted by Maxwell Chambers. This article discusses the impact of international arbitration on t...
Papua New Guinea flag
Dec 14 2017
World-first mining case launched in PNG
Citizens of Papua New Guinea have launched landmark legal proceedings against the country’s govern...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...