What does it take to become one of the country’s top-performing specialist lawyers?
According to Craig Gregson – who consistently snags a spot in Doyle’s Guide for his work in Wills and Estates – a healthy dose of ambition is key. And so is plenty of quality education.
We spoke with Craig about his career so far. Why he decided to specialise. And why he chose the College of Law to help get him there. Not once. But three times.
How Craig found his passion for law – and learning
Originally enrolled in a Psychology and Criminology double major, Craig quickly discovered it wasn’t the mystery of the mind that excited him – but the mystery and history of the law.
He transferred to a Bachelor of Law at Edith Cowan University and was gripped from the get-go by the intricacies and depth of the law in everyday life.
‘It was an eye-opening moment when I realised that society is regulated so deeply,’ says Craig. ‘I started considering the purpose of the law. And how the social contract between the government and society works.’
So began Craig’s journey into the legal profession.
He completed his Bachelor of Laws in 2010, then his PLT with the College of Law before launching head-first into practising at a suburban law firm. After five years of experience across practice areas, he decided it was time to specialise.
Diving deep into succession law
Like most lawyers who choose to specialise, Craig was faced with a choice. Should he upskill via formal education – or through experience?
‘Between my degree and the PLT program at the College, I had already done a large chunk of study. But I wanted to have the deepest knowledge possible. So, I researched which course would help me get there, and the College’s Master of Law (LLM) stood out.
‘The program's applied law and reality-based structure were very influential in my decision-making.’
So, alongside his full-time legal work, Craig spent the next four and a half years completing his LLM in Wills and Estates online.
‘I was reading so much content every night after work. But it was amazing. We learnt from the top succession lawyers in Australia. And I can safely say it expedited my career in succession law by a decade.’
Craig says he sees the benefits of specialist study every day of his legal career.
‘The law is unnecessarily complicated, so it’s easy to miss a particular section, especially if you’re appearing in other jurisdictions.
‘I know that because of my study, I make fewer mistakes, work more efficiently, and produce safer outcomes for my clients. And I see that reflected amongst my colleagues, too.
‘I’d much sooner work with other succession law specialists who have completed a course like the College of Law’s LLM over somebody who’s a specialist by virtue of work experience.’
The pull of private practice
Armed with his new credentials, Craig found he attracted many new clients. So, he decided to make the leap into running his own practice.
‘I learned a lot about running a practice by working for others. And with my strong technical knowledge, I felt confident that I could brand myself as an expert in succession law.
So in 2018, with a small credit card and a decent dose of ambition, Craig founded his firm Gregson & Associates and started acting as a principal lawyer.
‘I didn’t necessarily have the money to open my own practice,’ Craig laughs. ‘But I was willing to deal with the challenges that came my way.’
And every year since he opened the practice, Craig and his firm have been named in Doyle’s Guide as leading Wills and Estates Litigation lawyers.
‘I think we’re building something special here. We’re Western Australia’s only large-scale specialist succession law practice – and one of only a few Australia-wide. Every lawyer here has an applied law LLM background.’
And that’s because Craig set the standard that all his lawyers should complete their LLM – and his firm even pays for their tuition.
‘For me, it’s a no-brainer. The program fast-tracks your technical abilities, opens the door to higher degree study, and allows you to grow your network exponentially.
‘All of us have a STEP accreditation, and we’re moving towards a Quality Practice Standard. So our clients know that we’re operating at the highest level of performance and expertise.’
It’s all part of Craig’s commitment to personal excellence – and fostering an environment where individuals can grow into their potential.
The vibrant road ahead
With so much already achieved, Craig could be settling into his role as a firm manager and leading succession lawyer.
But he’s not one to get comfortable.
‘My plan is to one day obtain a judicial appointment as a magistrate, master or registrar of the district or supreme courts. Until then, I’m trying to upskill and get as much quasi-judicial experience as I can.’
Craig's days are full and varied, with a PhD at the University of Western Australia nearing completion and a new appointment as a legal member of the Mental Health Tribunal (Western Australia).
‘I’m enjoying all my roles and looking forward to what’s to come. One day, I would like to study philosophy more deeply – but until then, I am focussing on my litigation and tribunal experience.’