It’s been a huge 12 months for Paul Catchlove, a former chief operations officer of the Go Australia Group who was balancing his work with full-time study at the Queensland University of Technology up until December 2017, when he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours/First Class).
The winner of the Rising Star of the Year award and the Lawyers Weekly Excellence Award at the recent Australian Law Awards, Mr Catchlove only graduated from the College of Law in April of this year but his early career success is a testament to his hard work and dedication to the legal profession.
The Rising Star of the Year Award recognises outstanding performance by an individual who has recently commenced their legal career, while the Lawyers Weekly Excellence Award does not accept nominations, instead being awarded to the highest-scoring lawyer across the individual categories of the Australian Law Awards.
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Talking to Lawyers Weekly, Mr Catchlove said he is overwhelmed by his success across both award categories, noting “no one ever wins an award like this on their own.”
Reflecting on the last year, the 2018 Rising Star said it is “encouraging of the work that I have done to date, but even more so of the amazing people I have around me who have enabled me to do what I do.”
Acknowledging the high calibre of nominees on the night, Mr Catchlove said “to have been part of a group of such talented finalists (who are representative of an exceptionally talented profession) and have been chosen from among them is exceptionally humbling.”
Since commencing in Gadens’ corporate advisory group, Mr Catchlove has worked on a number of complex corporate transactions, including the restructure of a multimillion-dollar charitable foundation. He also works agreements between government and infrastructure providers, provides client advice on IPOs and capital raisings, and makes appearances in the Federal Court and Queensland’s Supreme Court.
Understating his talents, the lawyer says he has been “fortunate to receive such positive feedback from the clients for whom I have worked”.
“Ultimately the practice of the law is a business and so performing well for your clients is incredibly important,” he said.
As well as his corporate knack, Mr Catchlove uses his legal skills for Gadens’ pro bono work and in his position as a sessional academic at the Queensland University of Technology, where he is a tutor across corporate law and ethics.
He also founded the first Australian chapter of Legal Hackers, a global movement for lawyers and policymakers to combine with technologists, designers and academics to explore and develop creative solutions to issues at the intersection of law and technology.
Mr Catchlove sees the onset of technology in the legal industry as “much needed” for the improvement of efficiency and productivity and a continuing trend for the next twelve months. He also considers growth “in the application of legal design principles and legal project management” as a way to add significant value for clients.
Confessing to being “a little nerdy”, Mr Catchlove sees law “as a vocation, a calling.” He offers up that he tries to learn as much as he can about as many things as he can, and is “always reading or attending seminars to grow and develop.”
“I want to add value for the firm that I work for and the clients for whom I serve. As much as I can, I want my clients to see me as their trusted advisor,” he continued.
This development also comes in the form of mentoring, with Mr Catchlove telling Lawyers Weekly he has “three key mentors.”
“Two of which are law firm partners and one is a leader in business.”
Mr Catchlove explained that these mentors are people who each provide him with “invaluable”, “honest” and “much needed feedback and advice.”
With their guidance, and a continued yearning to learn, Mr Catchlove hopes to “continue down the same path” he is now on. He hopes to be able to provide “the highest levels of legal advice, advocacy and assistance” to his clients.
To other young lawyers, he has the following advice: “Work hard and apply yourself to your craft, develop your soft skills, grow your networks and find yourself a good mentor or even a few.”