08/06/2004 - 22:00

No argument about Martin’s win

08/06/2004 - 22:00

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THROUGHOUT his career Wayne Martin has had the knack of being in the right place at the right time, and this year he positioned himself perfectly to win the barristers’ section in the WA Business News Legal Elite.

No argument about Martin’s win

THROUGHOUT his career Wayne Martin has had the knack of being in the right place at the right time, and this year he positioned himself perfectly to win the barristers’ section in the WA Business News Legal Elite.

Something of an all-rounder, Mr Martin says working on a high-profile Royal Commission was “almost like a holiday” compared with his regular job, still finds the High Court a “pretty scary place”, and loves nothing more than catching a wave or two when there’s a good swell at Cottesloe.

Born and bred in Western Australia, Mr Martin joined the bar in 1988, 15 years after graduating from law school.

“Being a solicitor in the 1980s in Perth was great,” he said.

“There was an exposure to a lot of high-profile work that young graduates today don’t have. Throughout my career I have been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.”

But Mr Martin hasn’t ridden his wave of luck without giving anything back. He said he tries to do as much pro bono work as possible, and declared that he has a “Robin Hood approach to the law – take from the rich and give to the poor”.

Mr Martin was assisting counsel on the HIH Royal Commission and considers this the highest profile and most exciting case he has worked on.

The list of Mr Martin’s inspirations includes High Court chief justice Murray Gleeson (“one of the best barristers in Australia”), Supreme Court chief justice David Malcom (“inspiring to watch in action”), and Federal Court justice Dick Conti.

Although Mr Martin has had access to these extraordinary legal minds, he said the legal system for the lay person remained a huge issue.

In fact, Mr Martin said one of the main thrusts of the recommendations of the WA Law Reform Commission, which he worked on, was related to access.

“We need to actively look at ways of making the system more accessible, relevant and intelligible to people,” he said.

But on the flip side, Mr Martin said the community underrated the legal profession.

“Some very good things are done by lawyers that don’t get acknowledgement by the public,” he said.

“Like every profession, there are members who do things that they should not do, but there is an assumption when something bad happens that it is someone’s fault. Sometimes bad things just happen.

“Society is too litigious, we seem to have caught the American disease.”

Mr Martin mainly practices in commercial litigation, defamation and administrative law, but also does pro bono work.

“The main area where I do pro bono is with asylum seekers,” he said. “If it is an individual who is going to suffer as a consequence of a loss, I take it much more personally than a commercial corporation.

“I worked an immigration case in the early 1980s where, due to the outcome, my client could marry his fiancé, and they invited me to the wedding.

“It makes you realise that you have made a difference. You do have to develop defence mechanisms – that way madness lies if you don’t.

“You have to be able to walk away at the end of the day. If you can’t shut off and go home to play with your five-year-old, what is the point?

“My children are the happiest, most interesting and rewarding thing in my life – they help me keep perspective, realise what is important and stop me becoming too self important.

“I’d like for them to grow up in a clean and safe environment safe from violence and war.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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