Perhaps it’s Patrick’s significant backpacking experience, meeting fellow travellers and talking to locals from so many different countries, that instilled this philosophy. Or maybe it was trading stories back and forth with fellow cyclists during various grueling races around Australia?
Whatever the reason, as you watch Patrick assist his clients you could be forgiven for thinking the law had always been his passion. But as it turns out, as the tale is often told, it wasn’t his first choice. Patrick explained:
“When I came back to Adelaide after travelling for 12 months, I didn’t think I wanted to be a lawyer. I’d enjoyed the adventure and spending my time passing through different countries. My love of the country and my fondness for a glass of wine gave me a strong desire to work in the wine industry. Unfortunately the industry was struggling at the time and it was difficult to find work. Ultimately I came to a crossroads and decided to reinvest my energies into pursuing a legal career. When I got an opportunity with one of the premier Employer Industrial Relations firms in South Australia, I felt at home and didn’t look back.”
Patrick soon realised why workplace law suited him so well… his inherent people-skills are almost a prerequisite for successful results.
“The ability to effectively liaise and negotiate with other parties in any transaction or dispute is critical to being able to get the best outcome for your client. A lawyer with good relationships and good personal skills will get better results, whichever side of the table they’re sitting on, and will ultimately be much less expensive.”
Patrick has found that workplace law is a lot more unpredictable than corporate law, with parties continually finding ways to surprise. He’s also realised that disputes are not just about money… of course it is an important factor, but he explains that workers’ motivations are more complicated than cash alone.
“If you can work out where the other side is coming from, you’ll be able to negotiate with them much more effectively. An example of this was a dispute I resolved recently regarding a worker’s knee injury. My client’s main concern as the employer was the risk that the worker would be classified as a ‘seriously injured worker’. During the settlement conference, it became clear that the worker enjoyed her job and wished to stay on. Her prime concern was ensuring she could have surgery on the knee when required, and ongoing medical support. I was able to negotiate a settlement based on avoiding a liability of the worker being classified as ‘seriously injured’, but ensuring that she would have an entitlement to be reimbursed for the relevant medical expenses on her knee.”
With the ‘Fair Work Act’ in the news of late, Patrick comments that the current industrial relations framework generally works well, but that enterprise bargaining has become difficult for all parties involved, particularly small business employers. He advocates a less technical and more holistic approach would serve workers and employers better.
“In my experience, it’s too easy for disaffected parties to have agreements struck down for technical breaches that either don’t affect the outcome or might adversely affect only a very small minority of workers covered by the agreement.”
Away from the negotiation table, Patrick is an avid reader, traveller and bike rider. Memorable moments in his story so far include watching Cadel Evans on the Alp D’Huez in the Tour De France 2012 (the year he won), and riding 220 km up Doi Inthanon in Northern Thailand.
“My mate and I badly misjudged how hard the ride up Doi Inthanon would be and how long it would take. In a moment of genuine cold hard fear, we ended up riding over an hour in the dark with no lights on a busy Thai highway back to Chiang Mai. We felt lucky to be alive!”
The experience of so much overseas travel in different countries and cultures has left Patrick quite philosophical about how good life is Down Under.
“I had a lot of fun and some profound adventures travelling the world, but the one lasting thought I was left with is how lucky we are to live in Australia.”
Patrick is now firmly settled back in Adelaide, but he’s not sitting still. With his recent rise to become a DW Fox Tucker Director, plus his upcoming marriage on the horizon, we look forward to the next few chapters in Patrick’s story.