Principal: Walker, Gibbs & King, Cooma
Chris, you’re a keen outdoorsman and participate in ski marathons around the world, but what is the best thing about working in Cooma?
Where to start? Cross-country skiing in the mountains, bike riding, road-gravel mountain biking. It’s a seven-minute walk to work, a five-minute drive to get anywhere in town. We have four seasons and cool nights, even in the heat. In terms of work, lots of variety and really good, loyal hard-working support staff. But the main thing is, Cooma is the centre of the known universe and everyone has a connection with Cooma. I moved here for three years 41 years ago and never left.
What are the challenges working regionally?
The biggest one is keeping up with so many areas. You have to be a generalist. I honestly think you need to be smarter and more capable to do a good job in the country because you’ve got to be across more areas. Another challenge I’m having is that I’m 64 and many of my friends are retired so are riding and skiing faster than me. They have more time to do it. I’ve got to find the right person to work as a solicitor and take over the practice, so if you’re out there give me a call.
What are some lessons you’ve learnt in your career?
Millions of them, but there was a great article published years ago in the Victoria Law Institute Journal called “21 handy hints for legal beginners” or something like that. There were tips like “beware the client bearing gifts” or “the client who gives you a bottle of scotch will be the first to report you to the Law Society for some imagined slight” and “the law is fascinating but worry much more about the facts”.
What are you passionate about in the law?
My passion is to do a good job and see other people do a good job. I like to see competence, effectiveness and ethics in the profession. I think if you do a good job in whatever field you’re in, that’s what matters. I often tell clients in family law, if there is a good competent practitioner on the other side, whatever the end point is, they’re going to get there quicker and cheaper.
Any quirks to working in Cooma?
Cooma is sophisticated for a country town, because in the Snowy Hydro days it was the first multicultural place in Australia. There were lots of people from overseas and post-World War II migrants who worked on the scheme. We still have lots of people from those days here, and lots of engineers for the size of the town. When Blue Cow first opened in the 1980s, before they were part of Perisher, I went downhill skiing there. At the time I was doing Legal Aid work and I skied down to a lift and recognised one of the staff. He realised who I was and that I knew his deep dark past, which he may not have told Blue Cow about.