HE’S laid bricks, worked on the roads and admits to taking a “gap decade” before settling into his legal career.
But this month one of Nowra’s most respected solicitors, Mark Douglass, will be sworn in as a magistrate of the Local Court of NSW.
Attorney General Greg Smith SC announced Mr Douglass’s appointment on Wednesday.
Mr Douglass has been a solicitor for almost 15 years, working primarily in Nowra, where he has earned a reputation as a person of strong ethics.
“I’m no better than anyone else. Everyone just does what they can,” Mr Douglass said.
“I don’t have any barrows to push. I haven’t pushed a barrow since I was a bricklayer.
“My dad was a wharfie, mum was a shop assistant and I lived in a fibro house with the odd smashed window from cricket balls.
“I followed my brother and took up a trade as a bricklayer and I’ve worked on the roads and did a lot of surfing.
“I guess you could say I had a gap decade before going to uni to study arts/law as a mature age student at 30.”
Mr Douglass is the principal solicitor at Douglass and Ford Criminal Law and the president of the Shoalhaven Regional Law Society.
He has frequently appeared in the Local, Children’s and District courts and instructed counsel in matters before the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeal.
He has conducted prosecutions for government bodies in matters relating to education, fisheries and human resources.
He has also lectured in law at University of Wollongong.
Prior to establishing his own practice in 2003, Mr Douglass worked as a criminal lawyer at the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS).
While at the ALS, he established a legal component for the Serious Traffic Offender’s Program in Nowra.
Mr Douglass has performed extensive community work in the Shoalhaven.
As a coach of rugby league and rugby union teams, he has worked with disadvantaged Aboriginal young people and encouraged them to participate in sport and gain an education.
Mr Douglass has assisted the Schizophrenia Fellowship with fund-raising and has appeared as a guest speaker at a number of its events.
While he said it was an honour and a privilege to have been appointed to the position of magistrate, he likened it to being selected to play in a grand final.
“While I appreciate all the congratulations and celebrations going on around me, I think I have a lot of work to do,” he said.
“In a little over two weeks I will be sworn in and working in Sydney and then as far as I know I’ll be on active duty.
“It’s a steep learning curve.”
Mr Douglass will be sworn in as a magistrate on February 25.