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A lawyer for almost 30 years, Russell Hodge has authored a book about his struggle with mental illness which led him to life on the streets.

Russell Hodge is a natural decision maker. The ability to think swiftly and execute quickly guided him through more than 27 years in law, many of those as a sole practitioner. It landed him in Paris, age 66, to study philosophy at the Sorbonne with creditaverage beginner’s French in a class crammed with undergraduates. It also saw him leave his wallet, phone and all forms of identification on the seat of his car with a note to his wife, saying he was going to live on the street.

On a less life-altering note, it makes him an easy dining companion.

Russell is early for our weekday lunch at LoveFish Barangaroo and has decided on his meal before I even begin the process of dithering over the entrée choices.

“I was and am a risk taker,” he says, although as the lunchtime sun dapples over the ferry wharf, perhaps oysters and smoked trout are less calculated gamble and more sensible choice.

After practising as a solicitor for more than 20 years, specialising in aviation law, he became a director and shareholder of Pel-Air Aviation, which operated medical evacuation flights and freight. There were often difficult days, including a crash over Norfolk Island where the pilot and passen-gers were lucky to survive.

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