Most people just want to wind down and switch off after a long day at the office, but that’s not the case for lawyer Dominic Cookman, a senior associate at Snedden Hall & Gallop.
When he’s done assisting clients with their visa applications or superannuation claims, Dominic is smashing out the next thrilling chapter in his new book.
After releasing his first novel, Villains in the Night, on 28 November, 2021, Dominic is hard at work on his second book which is centred around an international student who mysteriously goes missing in Canberra.
“My main character, Paul, lives near Glebe Park and is an ex-army guy who gets hired to look for missing students,” he says.
“It’s still early days, but I am enjoying injecting some colour into his backstory.”
Dominic remains tight-lipped about the rest of the storyline, but hopes to have his book finished within two years.
He hasn’t had a great deal of spare time to write during the past two years, with COVID-19 keeping him on his toes as part of Snedden Hall & Gallop’s migration team.
“I’ve given advice to a lot of people living here who didn’t want to go home during COVID-19,” says Dominic.
“We’ve also given advice about extending visas and border exemptions, as well as leaving the country or coming into Australia to work with exemptions in place.”
Dominic has helped international students remain in Australia during the pandemic, and he says many businesses wanted to continue to employee or sponsor overseas workers.
For the past eight years he has been helping people resolve issues relating to the Department of Immigration’s visa application processes, and find a pathway towards permanent residency or Australian citizenship.
“It’s not always an easy system for people to navigate,” says Dominic.
“Sometimes I’m advising people who would like to bring their parents out to Australia, or locals who have a business and want to hire someone from overseas.”
A member of the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA), Dominic liaises with the Department of Home Affairs to help international students navigate the strict rules about what they can and can’t do while studying in Australia on a student visa.
He is also a part of Snedden Hall & Gallop’s superannuation litigation and wills, estates and elder law teams.
Dominic conducts claims on behalf of government employees who were incorrectly advised about their superannuation entitlements.
“We have been able to resolve quite a number of claims for people who had their entry to the Commonwealth Government superannuation scheme delayed in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, or who never joined at all,” he says.
“It’s always very rewarding when we can resolve these claims out of court and make a huge difference to people’s lives as they enter retirement.”
In 2007, after litigation, Snedden Hall & Gallop was successful in an important and acclaimed case that came before the High Court in the matter of Cornwell v. Commonwealth of Australia.
The firm acted for John Cornwell, a former Commonwealth Government employee who had been told that he was ineligible to join the Commonwealth superannuation fund because he was a blue-collar worker. Subsequently, he did not join the fund for many years.
Snedden Hall & Gallop brought a claim for damages for Mr Cornwell against the Commonwealth Government, and since then, the firm has been assisting other former and current employees with similar matters.
Dominic joined Snedden Hall & Gallop in January 2014 and was appointed as senior associate in December 2020.
Prior to entering private practice, he enjoyed a successful career in the Australian Public Service, working as a lawyer, policy officer and economist in agencies including ComSuper, the Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of Regional Australia, and the Department of Finance.
Dominic graduated from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Economics, Bachelor of Laws and Master of Laws, and now tutors in administrative law at ANU.
He is a former board member of the ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service, and is the chair of the Inclusion and Diversity Committee for the ACT Law Society, where he has an opportunity to contribute to the process of law reform in this area.
Dominic likes getting out and about in Canberra, particularly photographing animals at the zoo, and he is learning Japanese and Korean languages in his spare time.
Snedden Hall & Gallop has provided legal services in the Canberra region for more than 60 years, with services ranging from corporate and commercial, including commercial litigation, through to private client services such as wills and estate planning, conveyancing and personal injury claims.