Solic­i­tors’ cham­bers move raises the bar

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAMIE KRON­BORG jkro­n­borg@ne­me­dia.com.au

BEECH­WORTH solic­i­tors He­len McGowan and Matt Gro­gan have raised the bar with their cham­bers’ re­lo­ca­tion next week to Old Beech­worth Gaol.

The pair and their staff for three years have, as Hal­l­i­day Solic­i­tors, prac­ticed from Beech­worth’s Angli­can Church rec­tory in Ford Street, which the dio­cese let while its par­ish pri­est lived else­where.

But with the ap­point­ment of a new pri­est later this month Ms McGowan and Mr Gro­gan had to find new cham­bers.

“There’s the ob­vi­ous ele­phant on the dance floor – that the lawyers are prac­tic­ing from the gaol,” Mr Gro­gan said on Mon­day.

“As com­mer­cial of­fice space ready-made in Beech­worth is not that easy to come by, there was a lit­tle bit of ne­ces­sity.”

So when the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self to take space in Old Beech­worth Gaol, owned by a con­sor­tium led by the Aus­tralian Cen­tre for Ru­ral En­trepreneur­ship and in which there are nu­mer­ous lo­cal in­vestors, they moved.

“We’re pretty in­spired by the idea of what’s hap­pen­ing here at the gaol and the op­por­tu­nity to be first fol­low­ers – to sign on the line and com­mit to it – was im­por­tant,” Mr Gro­gan said.

“We’re not re­ally first fol­low­ers in one sense be­cause so much of the com­mu­nity is be­hind (the gaol project) al­ready with their com­mit­ment and money.

“But to make the de­ci­sion, sign a ren­tal agree­ment, move in and make this lit­tle part of it our own has been im­por­tant.”

The new cham­bers are in what is known as “the gaoler’s” on one side of the main gate. Its mir­ror – “the turnkey’s” – is on the op­po­site side in the front wall.

“Matt’s been very keen be­cause we sup­port the so­cial en­ter­prise cul­ture (of ACRE),” Ms McGowan said.

“We’re re­ally im­pressed by the vi­sion and en­thu­si­asm of not only the in­vestors but also the peo­ple who are car­ry­ing it out. “We want to be part of that. “With us, our theme is tran­si­tion. “Our work is of­ten with peo­ple in tran­si­tion – from cer­tainty, through un­cer­tainty, to cer­tainty again.

“We’re mod­el­ing some of that here – tran­si­tion law.”

Ms McGowan said there was a strong sense of jus­tice in their new cham­bers, to which they move on Mon­day.

“Yes,” said Mr Gro­gan, “to get to our deed room we’ll ac­tu­ally walk un­der a beam that has been made out of the old gal­lows beam on which peo­ple were hanged.”

Ms McGowan said the law could be a harsh mas­ter.

“As lawyers we pride our­selves in that very prag­matic line, not only know­ing the law but also re­ally giv­ing prag­matic opin­ions in a timely way for peo­ple,” she said.

Mr Gro­gan said the pair had ap­pre­ci­ated the help of the Wan­garatta Angli­can dio­cese and Beech­worth par­ish while the prac­tice leased the rec­tory.

PHOTO: Jamie Kron­borg

NEW MOVE: Beech­worth solic­i­tors He­len McGowan and Matt Gro­gan at the door to their new cham­bers in Old Beech­worth Gaol’s front wall.

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