Ever since Andrew Ekert was a little kid, he had a passion for helping people through tricky situations. In high school, his love for music took up most of his time and he was determined to make a career out of it.
“Music can be healing for people,” he says. “You can put on your favourite song and forget about the world for a while. My family was extremely supportive of my choices and in high school, I focused on my music probably to the detriment of all my other studies.
“I went on to study saxophone at the Victorian College of the Arts and spent some time busking, playing music festivals and teaching music classes at primary schools. Overall, I loved the experience of working as a professional musician, although I got a bit sick of Careless Whisper song requests.
“However, when I was in my final year at Victorian College of the Arts, I decided to change my plans and study law. I saw this as a way to broaden my skill set to help people in a different way. I have always felt a strong urge to help people through tricky situations in whatever I’m doing. I think you can do it both through music and through the law.”
The 30-year-old holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Music (Jazz Improvisation) from Victorian College of the Arts.
Hailing from Melbourne, Andrew’s first legal job was with the University of Melbourne’s inhouse legal team where he helped manage the legal side of innovative scientific research projects. He moved to Canberra in 2017 to take up a position as an associate to a judge in the Federal Circuit Court, dealing mostly with family law matters.
“Family law is an area where you are able to help people during what is usually one of the most difficult times of their lives,” he says. “It is an extremely challenging space to work in, but for those same reasons it is also extremely rewarding.”
Andrew joined local firm Snedden Hall & Gallop in 2020 and works primarily in the family law practice.
His love for music endures and he often plays at local Canberra jazz jams whenever he has time to spare.
“COVID-19 has put a little bit of a dampener on things this year, but prior to events being cancelled, I still played the odd gig here and there,” says Andrew.
He says there is a strong connection between being a jazz musician and a lawyer.
“There is a fair bit in common between the two – more than you would expect,” says Andrew. “When you are improvising in jazz, you are drawing on ideas you have learned in the past and repurposing them to the present context. It’s the same in law sometimes; you often find yourself drawing on concepts that have arisen in other areas, which often become unexpectedly relevant to the matter at hand.
“The ability to improvise helps, too. Sometimes in law you need to do the best you can with the time and information you’ve been given. That’s a bit like being given a solo without knowing the song, which has happened to me more than a few times.
“Court work can be quite performative at times, too. There is a degree to which having that performance background helps in working out the best way to construct a story and feeling confident about getting up and presenting it.”