FOR the vast majority of high-achieving lawyers, the relentless professional grind begins as a teenaged undergraduate and stops at a well-couched partnership or management position.
Breaking the mould however, Paul Catchlove (pictured) didn't discover his legal calling until departing from an already illustrious career as an ordained priest for the Catholic Church.
Instead of poring away at legal textbooks during his early years, Catchlove received tertiary education in theology, arts and music before ascending the clerical ranks to begin a three-year posting at the Vatican in 2008 which included working with Pope Benedict XVI.
Catchlove says his desire to begin a family led him to come home to launch a new career, with his love for justice and honesty leading him to decide on the law.
"When I left the ministry I went and worked for a funds management company called the Sentinel Property Group as their national operations manager," says Catchlove.
"I realised at this time when I was resetting my career, that law had always been a passion for me, so I thought it would be a good thing to try and seek work in the legal profession, to bring my skills up to speed and engage in some study."
In just a few short years, Catchlove has worked his way to become the current chief operations officer of the Go Australia Group, which manages firms including the Shimizu Kokusai Law Office, Go Australia Visa Consultants and Conveyancing Home QLD, all while studying his Bachelor of Laws at the Queensland University of Technology.
The latest addition to his eclectic resume has seen Catchlove launch Injury & Accident Lawyers on behalf of the Go Australia Group, a mobile practice born to meet the growing needs of the company's existing clients.
"We had a number of clients throughout other aspects of the firm's commercial and migration departments, saying they'd had an injury or an accident, which we were then referring on to other firms," says Catchlove.
"We just found that the high quality of service and price that we provide wasn't necessarily being replicated by those we were referring to."
The question 'what's the difference between being a priest and a lawyer,' feels a little bit like the beginnings of a bad joke, but for Catchlove the life experience itself has been a genuine answer.
Looking back on his transition from the clergy to the courtroom, Catchlove believes his two great careers haven't been without their striking similarities.
"In the church there is a great deal of support from other members of the priesthood and those higher up in the bishop's offices, and I felt a similar sense of collegiality in the legal profession," says Catchlove.
"Justice, honesty and integrity are also things that are critically important to succeed in either career, along with having the ability to empathise and relate to people whether that's parishioners or clients."
Injury & Accident Lawyers is now in the market for a new senior lawyer as the practice moves into a new phase of growth.
Catchlove also encourages anyone who might be having second thoughts about their career track to follow the things they are passionate about, even if it means discovering a completely new side to the spectrum.
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