It always reminds me of the little girl in the taco ad.
How can you be a for-profit commercial law firm, with corporate clients who have mercenary, corporate needs, while at the same time going hard on human rights and social justice – knowing that not all your clients will agree with your views, nor necessarily care about these things as much as you do? Isn’t mixed messaging supposed to be brand death?
It’s a question that we get asked, but not one we ask ourselves. I was sitting in the Federal Court last week, where we were representing Mostafa (Moz) Azimitabar, a refugee who has been a victim for the past decade of Australia’s border policies, running his case against the federal government. We had partnered with Amnesty International (Australia) to bring this test case, challenging the legal validity of the government’s massive system of shadow immigration detention – hotel detention as it’s often described. Our case is simple: the system is illegal, and everyone who has been subjected to it has been unlawfully imprisoned. If we’re right, the same will apply to the migration “transit” centres in several capital cities which have held thousands of people. Moz is the brave guy who decided to put himself up as the applicant to test this proposition in the courts, for the benefit of everyone.
It’s classic public interest litigation, and for us it’s gold, because it combines our passions: law and justice (they’re not the same thing). However it goes, we’ll have made law.
That is the key to the coherence of Marque’s purpose. Marque exists to use the law for good. We choose to be lawyers because we love the law and we want it to do its job properly. Whether we’re wielding it for our commercial clients or for Moz, or for a sexual assault survivor or for the next cool start-up, our place in the picture is as the holders of the knowledge of how to make the law work for better outcomes. It’s all the same.
There’s nothing inconsistent or weird about doing good things with your skills while making a profit doing it. We employ more than 50 people and contribute to the economy in myriad ways. We’re in business to succeed.
We also have choice: who we work with, what we do for them, what causes we pursue. Every business has those choices, but most don’t realise it or are too scared to say.
The lesson we’ve learned from our 14 years so far is that there’s nothing to fear from having a purpose, telling everyone what it is and living by it. You gain so much more than you could ever stand to lose.
The girl in the taco ad saw straight through the myth of mixed messaging, and so do we.
Michael Bradley is a Managing Partner for Marque Lawyers