A look at Ben Duggan’s list of legal achievements would lead you to believe he’s a workaholic lawyer with little or no time for life outside the practice, but when digging a bit deeper it’s clear the opposite is the case.
Somehow in between nurturing an impressive nationwide reputation in industrial relations, workplace relations, and work health and safety, Ben finds time to binge watch the latest Netflix series with his wife Amanda, be a Dad to three grown up children, a serious triathlete, a keen crab fisher and an Australian Rules footy coach.
“Actually, I’ve hung up my boots with the footy coaching”, Ben corrects. “But I do still dine out on the story of been a part of a Premiership in 2015, which was extra special given my son Charlie was playing for them at the time. He, despite being a Carlton supporter, still has a passion for football and plays for Payneham Norwood Union, whose senior team is currently coached by ex-Norwood legend Garry McIntosh… so I’m in esteemed company!”
The big game in Ben and Amanda’s personal life these days is for them to be around to see his kids grow into their adult world. “It’s a wonderful thing to watch”, he says with a smile. “They are at those ages – Charlie 17, Harry 18 and Alexandra 21 – where hanging out with mum or dad isn’t very high up their agenda, but still from the sidelines it’s fascinating to see these three very different personalities address the big moments in their life like their first trip overseas, first job, and first love. When the extended Duggan family comes together at Easter, Christmas and birthdays for some crabbing and surfing at Ben’s parents, Kevin and Rose’s, place near Middleton, getting the juicy updates on their lives is a great way to spend a few hours.”
Ben’s not known to be a name dropper on the legal circuit, but it’s a different story when it comes to his bike. “It’s a ‘Lapierre’”, he proudly proclaims when asked about his triathlon pursuits. His love for Triathlon has led him to a level of performance which has seen him photographed by the Victor Harbour paparazzi and a serious contender to win his age category in the big yearly event. “I’ve competed in the annual triathlon at Victor Harbour for the last 3 summers” Ben reports, “I was stoked to take two minutes off my time this year, and next year I’ve set myself the target of winning my age category for the event.”
When it comes to feeling like a winner in his professional life, Ben looks to his peers for judgement on his performance. “I have always felt that a pretty good reflection of your own skills and ability is what your peers think… after all, they are the ones who deal with you on a day to day basis. To that end I’m extremely proud to have been named in the Australian Financial Review’s Best Lawyers publication, which is recognised as the leading peer-based assessment of lawyers in Australia.” Ben’s huge number of referrals from right across the country is another prime example of peer-based approval, and solid proof that there’s a growing number of cases and clients which will follow this detail-driven people-person, wherever he goes.
Ben’s reputation for possessing an astute affinity with the legal intricacies of his field precedes him, driven by a deep desire to help Australian businesses and their workers understand, navigate and succeed within the country’s complex mix of legislation around Employment Law.
“One of my main professional aspirations is to help small businesses in the face of increasingly confusing workplace law. When I started practising, workplace law was regulated by a State Act that was easy to follow, understand and comply with, but new Federal Laws changed all that. Large companies and unions have the benefit of advisors and other experts to help them understand their obligations, but it’s tough for small businesses and my passion is making sure as many as possible get the same informed guidance as the big end of town.”
But what if he wasn’t a lawyer? What if a few things had gone differently in life and directed him along a different path? “Oh that’s easy”, Ben concludes. “My other passion is history, so a career as a history professor would be my second choice to lawyering.”