Wagga local Kevin Foley is celebrating 50 years of work as a solicitor in the city, sharing the highs, lows and lessons learnt over his career.
After 14 years of working for Walsh and Blair solicitors in Wagga, Mr Foley opened his own practice in 1983 which would become the starting point of a roller coaster career.
“Depending on who you speak to, I’m either a hero or a lunatic, and neither of those are a bad thing,” Mr Foley said.
The passionate community man said his most memorable case would have to be suing J.K. Rowling in the High Court of London in the early 2000s.
“I’d be working six days a week from eight in the morning till 2:30am the next day, but it was worth it and I never felt like complaining - what would that achieve?” he said.
“The J.K. Rowling case was so huge, and we honestly had it in the bag but they requested money we couldn’t come up with in order to finalise the case, and so we had to let it go.
“But in a way, losing that case might have been a good thing – if I had have won, I would have been a million dollars richer and would’ve retired then and there and not gotten to experience the life I have now.”
Mr Foley said it is not the money that motivates him to keep working.
“Money has never been a motivator for me, I do it because I want to help people and that alone gives me great joy,” he said.
“Some of the cases I’ve gone through where people could have been in jail for years, or where young people are at that crisis in their life and if they hadn’t got a break they wouldn’t have come out to be the leaders in the community they are now - helping them at that crucial point to decide what their future holds is what makes my work worthwhile.”
Fluent in Latin and songs of six languages, Mr Foley’s skill set goes far beyond legal studies with interests in music, meditation, creative writing and poetry, and even fly fishing.
Speaking to Mr Foley even just for an hour revealed a deep wisdom of a life well lived.
“I think life is all about thinking outside the square, we’ve had the benefit of a great education, we’re lucky to be born in this great country, we’ve never had a day’s hunger in our life - we have an obligation to get out and help other people, and I’m committed to that,” he shared.
“Let us build Australia so that we don’t have any prejudice of class, colour, sex, nationality, or any other thing.”
When asked of his plans for the future, Mr Foley assured The Daily Advertiser that he had no intention to stop working any time soon.
“People always ask me when I’m going to retire, and I always tell them the same thing - the only retiring I’ll be doing is putting new ones on my car,” he said.
Mr Foley said he had one legacy he wished to leave behind.
“Happiness is inside, not out there in the world - It’s not even about how many friends you’ve got or anything like that, it’s got to start from in here,” he said, pointing to his heart.
“Never, ever apologise for being yourself."Kevin Foley
“Don’t try and seek out others to lean on or to get meaning from, find it within yourself and learn to be happy with who you are and what you’re doing.”