Law can be a magnificent obsession, says Roger Batrouney. To this Melbourne-based practice group leader practising law is still richly rewarding after 45 years in the profession.
‘Law is a fascinating area of intellectual endeavour and human interaction and has been a great source of enjoyment and satisfaction for me over many years,’ he says. ‘I have helped clients with difficulties and have been able to steer them through what must be truly troubling times. The fact that I am acting for third-generation clients does give me satisfaction that my advice has meant something.’
Roger is one of the most experienced and highly respected lawyers at the firm whose list of achievements reads like an encyclopaedia. He is an Accredited Specialist in Environmental, Planning & Local Government Law as well as in Mediation, and in 2005 he was presented with a Honorary Life Membership of the Law Institute. When Roger speaks; you listen. So what advice does he have for our young solicitors coming through the ranks?
‘To be successful at anything, not only law, you must enjoy what you do,’ he says. ‘You set your standards high and maintain those standards irrespective of your client’s appreciation of them.’
Roger also urges young lawyers to get involved in the Law Institute and other committees. Throughout his career he has found this to be a terrific way to learn by rubbing shoulders with the leaders in the field. Through these endeavours you learn much more than you give back, he says.
Back in 1973 Roger began his career working as a lawyer at Secombs specialising in property and wills and estate planning. The firm’s founder Ian Secombs died at a young age leaving Roger and his partner Rod Jones to carry the torch. Roger was asked to take over the firm’s litigation files that included Family Law, compensation claims and general commercial litigation, which he handled with great success.
To accommodate the firm’s burgeoning workforce they built a new office in Melbourne’s western suburbs, which continues to operate as our Footscray office to this day. By the time Slater and Gordon acquired the Secombs practice in 2008 it had grown to 35 staff members covering a diverse range of expertise.
‘The western suburbs is a cost-sensitive area so my emphasis has always been on putting the best systems in pace to improve efficiencies and keep client costs down,’ says Roger. ‘In doing so, Secombs became the first small firm in the nation to achieve an Australian Standards Accreditation.’
‘I consider myself to be very fortunate to be working with younger practitioners,’ says Roger. ‘I enjoy my role as mentor and hope that some of my experience can help in the development of my colleagues.’
Roger’s experience in local government and town planning acquired during his 40-year tenure at Secombs has been invaluable in his current role. In Compulsory Acquisition cases, in particular, his knowledge has been called upon on such issues as planning schemes, the Local Government Act, the acquisitions process and to advise on how councils operate.
Outside of work Roger says that most of his time is taken up by family. ‘My wife Margaret has been very tolerant with my magnificent obsession of the law and I have three children who are all successful in their chosen professions,’ he says. ‘I am also an enthusiastic home renovator and gardener. Generally, I like working with my hands, whether it is gardening, carpentry or bricklaying.’
There is a lot to be thankful for in working at Slater and Gordon, according to Roger. The firm has a great attitude to work-life balance and solicitors are fortunate to have an abundance of resources at their disposal by way of IT technology, our law library and ongoing learning and development. He also says that he is impressed at the attention that is given here to practice standards and the prima-face obligation to our clients.