Snedden Hall & Gallop’s newest associate, Jonathan Statham, knows exactly the kind of lawyer he wants to be, and the kind of values he wants at the forefront of his work.
Practicing in the family law space, he knows first-hand it’s an area in which emotions run high, and the nitty-gritty and minor details sometimes obscure the bigger picture.
When there are young children involved, as there so often is, Jonathan says it’s even more important that this doesn’t happen.
That’s why at all times he tries to be compassionate to his client, the other party and to the children.
“Our clients are generally going through what’s likely to be the hardest times of their lives,” says Jonathan, acknowledging that making decisions about parenting arrangements and children when a relationship has fallen apart is never an easy job.
However, if there’s one place where Jonathan is less likely to display compassion, it’s on the rugby union field.
Still an avid player, the Melbourne-born flanker grew up in Fiji, where he moved at the age of 10 before coming home to Australia for university.
Jonathan made the move to Canberra in 2013 for a graduate job, but says a big element of the time he spent in Fiji playing rugby union stuck with him.
“It’s a big part of the culture over there as it is here, and I grew up playing it in school and at university,” he says.
These days, Jonathan plays for Easts Rugby Union Football Club at number six.
Like on the rugby field, he says his work in the family law space “is not about being aggressive, it’s about having a game plan and executing it”.
“It’s not about attacking someone or discrediting them,” says Jonathan. “It’s about getting a result that’s in the best interests of the children.”
Outside of the court process, Jonathan is a firm believer in mediation as it gives the parties an opportunity to control the outcome. This occurs as a result of strategic negotiation.
“I find that matters often settle when there is a win-win outcome, but rarely ever as a result of a win-lose,” he says.
Jonathan has honed his negotiation skills throughout his career, particularly during the years he spent as a commercial property lawyer where contracts were always more likely to be agreed upon when parties benefited mutually from their arrangements.
Although Jonathan relished his role as a property lawyer, he says there was something about the idea of getting back into court, rather than being a black-letter lawyer, and advocating for his client’s needs that really appealed to him.
“Prior to being a family lawyer, I spent most of my time in the office negotiating contracts, but wanted to have the ability to represent clients in court,” he says.
“Part of this is about dealing with people – finding out what is at the core of what my client wants and then articulating this to the judge in a way that fits in with the mechanics of the law.”
Jonathan adds that his experience practising as a property lawyer has given him stronger insight into the implementation of property orders.
“I can take my clients through private treaty sales, auctions, stamp duty, CGT, recommend mortgage brokers, real estate agents and so on,” he says.
In negotiations, he is able to advocate on behalf of clients to achieve what is just and equitable with the property split to ensure nobody will be left struggling in the future.
When Jonathan isn’t in the courtroom or on the rugby field, you’re likely to find him volunteering his time for another cause close to his heart.
He is a subcommittee member for Queanbeyan Junior Brass, a not-for-profit organisation that provides instruments and musical education to children between the ages of seven and 14 who otherwise wouldn’t have access to it.
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