USQ Law student Douglas Finch with his wife Josie and their daughter Evelyn.
USQ Law student Douglas Finch with his wife Josie and their daughter Evelyn. USQ Photography

Former boilermaker swaps his hard hat for judge's robes

LESS than four years after hanging up his hard hat and high-vis, former boilermaker Douglas Finch will soon be donning the black robes of a Judge's Associate.

The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Law student spent a decade working in mines and construction sites before deciding to study towards a new career path.

That decision has paid off after he landed the highly sought-after associate position at the Supreme Court of Queensland.

It's an extraordinary opportunity for the 33-year-old, who is currently in his fourth year at USQ Springfield, completing his Honours degree in Laws.

"I am absolutely chuffed - it's a big honour,” Mr Finch said about his forthcoming position.

"It's a great opportunity to be able to learn from someone who is at the forefront of where court law is not only being wielded but also made.

"I know it's going to be tough but it's also going to be really rewarding - I can't wait to start.”

Mr Finch starts in January 2019, and his role will include assisting in everything from carrying books to the courtroom to undertaking legal research and proofreading judgments.

It's a far cry from his days as a boilermaker when he moved from job to job across the country.

"Between 2005 and 2014, I hadn't spent a full year at home because I was constantly away for work,” he said.

As he grew older, a career in law became appealing so he enrolled in USQ's Bachelor of Laws.

He spent his first semester studying online while working as a pipefitter on a gas project in the Surat Basin.

"The first time I looked at the course material, I thought to myself 'what I have got myself into?' But I welcomed the challenge,” he said.

"I would finish an 11-hour shift, come back to the mining accommodation camp, have a shower, something to eat and then get stuck into the books for four hours.”

It wasn't long before Mr Finch moved to Brisbane so he could devote more time to his studies, during which time he developed a keen interest in commercial and construction law.

"Studying at USQ has been a life-changing experience and I am extremely grateful for all the support I have received over the last four years,” he said.

"From the lecturers to the staff in Student Support, and even the librarians; I can't fault anyone.

"If you show you are willing to put in the effort, they will do everything they can to help you and keep you on top of your work.”

Mr Finch and his wife Josie welcomed their first child Evelyn in January, and the proud dad said family was a motivating factor for him.

"My wife and my father (Lachlan) have both been extremely supportive, and being a father myself now, I have more reason to work hard to ensure I have a long career in the legal industry.”

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