Written on the 28 April 2015 by Jenna Rathbone


GLENN Ferguson is the Managing Director of Ferguson Cannon Lawyers and a Solicitor of the High Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of Queensland.

As an experienced lawyer, he has acted in complex disputes and transactions for a range of clients both nationally and internationally and is also an Accredited Specialist and Registered Migration Agent acting for Business, Corporates and Individuals.

Ferguson is a past President of the Law Council of Australia and the Past President of LAWASIA - the Law association for Asia and the Pacific and a Past President of the Queensland Law Society. He is also a Senior Counsellor with the Queensland Law Society and an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

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What prompted your interest in law and why are you passionate about standing up for the rights of Australian's?

I started life as Police Officer and I think at that early stage it really opened my eyes to how many people in our society are so disadvantaged as compared to what the perception of everyday Australians are.  When I joined the legal profession it really expanded my appreciation of what a great amount of work so many lawyers do in the area of protecting people's basic freedoms and standing up for people's inherent values.  I have been fortunate to be involved in numerous human rights organisations, charities and foundations throughout my career and that work has been for me the most rewarding I have done.  I have been energised, inspired and overwhelmed by the people I have worked with who are usually totally selfless and often at great personal risk to themselves and their families. It is inspiring to rub shoulders with people who are not just a credit to the profession, but to humanity.  

What is your favourite part about being a solicitor and why?

That is easy.  It is the people I work with and the people I meet.  I really enjoy talking with people and dealing with their legal and business issues.  I often say at functions I am fortunate that so many people who have started off as clients have become lifelong friends.  I don't think there is anything better than being able to act for someone professionally and have them regard you as their confidant and advisor.  I have been fortunate to travel extensively during my career and have met people from all walks of life and various ethnic and religious backgrounds.  Those experiences have played a significant part in shaping who I am.   I am constantly amazed by the energy and dedication of young lawyers and always enjoy my time spent working with and interacting with them.  Being a solicitor is not often easy, but I would not change it for anything.

What have been some of the highlights of your career?

I think being president of the Queensland Law Society, LAWASIA and The Law Council of Australia have been professionally the most rewarding.  It gave me not just a national, but international perspective of the law and legal issues. I have also been fortunate to sit on a number of Boards in a range of industries, professions and charities.  The breadth of experience and the people and issues I have dealt with has not only made me a better lawyer and a better businessman, but most importantly a better person I hope.  However the thing I received the most personal satisfaction from was being a member of the expert panel in relation to Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.  I consulted widely in my role and it really confirmed to me what a great culture we have in Australia and we should be incredibly proud of being part of it as Australians.  I hope one day to see it happen.

What do you consider to be the main challenges you face in your industry in the year ahead?

The legal profession is facing the greatest challenges it has ever seen.  We are in uncertain times economically not just in Australia but worldwide.  The way we do business is changing and our clients are demanding us to adapt.  In Queensland we are seeing a downturn in certain sectors and it will have a significant effect on the legal industry.  Now more than ever before we are under scrutiny in relation to our standard of service, our fees and the way we deliver them.  It is clear to me we need to grow closer to our clients and understand what they want not what we think they want.  Engagement and communication with both clients and potential clients is a must.  We have to be an adaptive profession whilst still maintaining our high standards.  That is easier to say than do.

What conversations should those in the legal profession be having to improve the overall industry?

We need to have conversations about how we will practice law in the future, the type of law we want to practice and how do we want to train our lawyers.  There is no doubt the number of lawyers we are producing is not sustainable if they all go into practice, but as I have always said getting legal qualifications is not always about practicing the law.  A legal qualification provides you valuable skills.  It gives you amongst many others skills the ability to analyse, to question, to negotiate, to collaborate and to challenge.  We need to be looking at how we can expand the offerings we provide to clients, the community and to our own profession in an ethical and professional manner.

How did it feel to be awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015? 

I like so many who have received such and award say it is very humbling and a great honour.  That can sometimes sounds trite, but it is true.  It is very hard describe how immensely proud it makes you feel.   One thing it did make me realise is that receiving such an award is not as a result of my efforts, but the fact I have been able to do undertake so many wonderfully gratifying roles due to the people around me.  For me it has been a great journey but I could not have done it without my family including my wife Debbie and my children, who I am so very proud of Ashley, Aimee and Sean.  To all the people I have worked with in the many roles I have been so fortunate to serve in including my long suffering business partner Byron Cannon (we celebrate 20 years as a legal practice this year).  My sister Gloria and to my parents Marion and Maxwell who both passed away in recent years.  My father was the greatest man I ever met and I dedicate the award to him.

Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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