Mark Savic, Criminal Lawyer

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Tell us what your connection to the Coffs Coast is?

I purchased a holiday home in Red Rock 14 years ago. This has become my permanent home over the years, as I have come to love the environment here. My three children love to fish, camp and dive, so this is just heaven.

How did you come to pursue a career in law?

I left school when I was 18 and left home that same year to travel around Australia for a couple of years. During that time, I spent a lot of time in very remote places in predominantly Aboriginal populations. I worked doing bouncing (security work) in pubs such as the Roebuck Hotel in Broome and the Spinifex Hotel in Derby. These places are gentrified now, but were blood baths back then. I experienced many people who were being used and abused in their own country and learned that those in power often exploit those without it. 

My interest in the law was borne of altruism. After my couple of years of adventure, I worked as a private investigator (commercial mercantile agent) for an organisation doing repossessions and document servicing, where I saw first-hand how those without power are exploited by those with it. By the time I was 23, I had decided to study law. I studied at Bond University while working three jobs part-time, so it took me a bit longer than most. I graduated in 1994.

Where have you worked in your career to date?

In the 24 years since my graduation, I have worked in the law for about 12 years. Outside of that, I have worked in education, hospitality, film and magazine production and project management. The most marked thing about my legal career is how much I have learned about people. I have met so many interesting people who have found themselves in trouble through a unique set of circumstances. I have come to accept that most of us could be in the same trouble, given the right set of circumstances. It is true that I have encountered people who could only be described as evil, but fortunately they are a rare breed. I am usually dealing with “normal” people in “abnormal circumstances”. 

Most recently, I have been working for Aboriginal people. I had the good fortune to work with the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Legal Service in Cairns a couple of years ago. To represent Aboriginal people from country who are very connected to language and culture was a great privilege. 

My entire working life has been an amazing journey. The journey of learning continues, and it excites me. As I get older, I am starting to feel like I am transitioning into more of a mentoring/teaching role, which feels very natural to me.

You recently started your own legal practice; tell us a little about this?

I have started Mark Savic Legal so that I can service my clients, without having to deal with the bureaucracy of a large organisation. Having my own firm enables me to dedicate resources to my clients, rather than organisational compliance. My oldest son is planning to study law as well, so an opportunity for us to work together was also a driver. My new business can be accessed on the web at
www.marksaviclegal.com.au

What’s your approach to client service?

Make it personal. I like the fact that my clients speak directly with me. This is also an issue of accessibility. There are many firms where your first point of contact will be a secretary or personal assistant to the lawyer. Matters are often subject to triage through this third party, and the client rarely receives any advice until they have paid money in to trust. 

Working on my own, I am able to establish a rapport with my clients more easily and I am able to give them some simple advice directly. One of the most important things is that I am able to give clients a fixed price for service. I am also able to apply for legal aid on behalf of clients.

What tools are you using to build awareness of your new practice?

My primary tool is my website. I am working on Search Engine Optimisation to ensure my website is ranking well for user searches, and I am just starting to see results. I am also using “keep it handy” style business cards, which I am distributing in a variety of ways.

When you’re not in court, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to be in the natural environment. I scuba dive, free dive, spearfish, skydive, and ride my skateboard too when I forget how old I am (51). I also love to cook and arrange flowers. Both bring warmth into my home. I am very fortunate that my three sons have developed a love for all of the things I like to do, so I am often in their awesome company having another adventure.

Do you have a mentor; if so, who and why?

Yes, I do. Mr Collin Greatorix and Mr Sunil Dutt are my mentors. Both of these men are very experienced criminal lawyers from whom I have learned the value of humility, the dangers of ego and the love and care for those less fortunate than myself. They also help me with the application of the law and with ethical issues. Having mentors is critical to my wellbeing and continued development as a criminal lawyer.

Why do you love the Coffs Coast?

I just love the Coffs Coast. It has the best climate, wildlife, hinterland, water, air and overall abundance of life and opportunities. I have met some amazing people here who have become lifelong friends. My children have been able to live a life of freedom in Red Rock, which is slowly disappearing in many places. Perhaps the biggest reason is that I feel that this part of Australia loves me. I am embraced by it every day.

Tell us something funny, Mark …

I had an older female Aboriginal client in the cells one morning. She had been arrested and charged with Public Nuisance. She had also been detained on several warrants as a result of not appearing in court. The interview is conducted with each of us on the opposite sides of a thick piece of Perspex, so you have to shout a bit. This was the first time I had met this lady. I started to ask her some questions, to which she had no answer – just a perplexed look on her face. 

I confidently identified signs of hearing loss, which is common among Aboriginal people. I very slowly and deliberately mouthed, “Are you deaf?”, which she immediately affirmed. No problem. I needed to seek an adjournment to arrange an Auslan interpreter. She was brought into the dock before the magistrate, where I confidently announced that my client was deaf, and that she should be released on bail immediately. 

The Magistrate said to my client in a normal voice, “How are Jim and the boys, Wendy?” to which she replied, “They all good”… The Magistrate turned to me saying, “That is how deaf your client is, Mr Savic.” There was much laughter. The court security officer then handed me a note; client pretends to be deaf when not wanting to talk.

Thanks Mark.

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