During 35 years of legal practice, Gus Irdi has never yelled “I object” in an open court room but he is eager to debunk the myth of the stereotypical, power-hungry lawyer. The man behind Irdi Legal and a graduate of the University of Western Australia in Law and Jurisprudence, Mr Irdi tells Juanita Shepherd how his faith has helped him during his career and the struggles and triumphs he has faced.
What is the best legal advice you have received?
When interviewing clients always remember that there are three sides to every story, namely the clients, the other side and the truth in the middle.
Why did you choose law as a profession? What do you find appealing about law?
At the time, I happened to be living next door to a lawyer who encouraged me to consider law as a profession. I am very grateful to him for that advice and believe that law has suited my personality well.
I have enjoyed the challenges that the profession brings in dealing with complex and diverse matters, assisting clients in achieving their outcomes and creating a basis from which I can undertake community service.
How did you feel when you received the Order of Australia?
Extremely honoured and proud not only for myself but for my family who have equal right in sharing the award with myself as without the support of my wife Anelia and children in allowing me the latitude and flexibility in undertaking community service, none of it would have been possible.
What has been the worst moment of your career?
In the early part of my career I was embarrassed in Court by not having spent sufficient time preparing for a case. It was salutary lesson learnt early.
What has been the best moment of your career?
Moving admission for my sons, Christian and Adrian, as qualified lawyers of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.
How does your faith help you in your line of work?
Immensely, as it keeps reminding me that all that I do and have in my life is a result of God’s grace. It also enables me to act compassionately and pastorally in difficult situations when the need arises. I am often called to provide mentoring support to various clients and friends and my faith allows me to introduce them to the concepts of a faith system and prayer life.
Who is your inspiration?
The disabled in the community who I have had the honour and pleasure of meeting and who have taught me not to sweat the small stuff and to keep things in perspective and to appreciate that all things are possible regardless of your handicaps.
What is the hardest thing you have ever had to do as a lawyer?
Attending to terminally ill patients in hospital for the purpose of taking instructions for bedside wills knowing that in some cases the client had only hours to live.
What advice would you give to an aspiring lawyer?
Law is a honourable profession (despite the public perception of lawyers) and it is important to understand and maintain the vow give, to the Supreme Court on your admission, have interests of your client as your primary concern, to act with integrity and transparency and not to see the profession as simply a means of making money. Sometimes your integrity may be called into question and it is in these times important to hold true to your personal principles regardless of the consequences. In my experience, clients always appreciate honest and regular
communication on their affairs.
What would you say about the ‘stereotypical lawyer’ who is portrayed in TV shows etc?
Law is a difficult profession and requires a commitment to work long hours with little or no glamour involved. Most of the TV shows portraying lawyers at work are fanciful and not the reality of most lawyers.
Have you ever wanted to yell ‘I object’ or ‘You can’t handle the truth!’?
Not that I can recall.
Tell us about the patron Saint of laywers.
St Thomas Moore; he was a very successful lawyer and an outstanding intellect and a prolific writer and a man of great virtue and a defender of his faith. Notwithstanding that he achieved high office under the reign of King Henry VIII (occupying the office of Chancellor) and wielding enormous power, he remained a man of integrity and true to his principles regardless of the consequences – which in his case led to his beheading as he refused to bow to the King’s preposterous demands. St Thomas Moore is a person that we should all try and emulate.
What do you do on your days off?
Catch up with family and friends and generally try to relax.
What are your hobbies?
Exercise, reading and enjoying a good movie; there are too many fine movies produced for me to have a favourite. However, one of the best movies that I have seen in recent times is The King’s Speech, fantastic acting and great dialogue. It was an engaging movie and one in which you could immerse yourself and feel good about the outcome.
What is the most important quality a lawyer should possess?
Capacity to work hard and to have the ability to engage with clients.