When Deacon Johnston was young, his mother told him she would be proud of him whether he was a garbo or a lawyer.
Last month, Deacon, 35, of Mount Cotton tested those words when he was issued with a Bachelor of Law, swapping the driver’s seat of a garbage truck for a seat as an associate for a Supreme Court judge.
“I thought I’d try both,” he said.
Deacon said he took up his study to be a strong role model for his oldest daughter.
“I wanted her to see that you can achieve things no matter what,” he said.
“To be truthful, if I had started studying law at age 18, I would probably have flunked out.
“This is perhaps the single greatest achievement of my life in an effort sense, although the achievement I will always be most proud of is my daughters.”
Deacon has three daughters, Ava, 11, Lola 3 and Thea 1.
And working as a garbo served his purpose well.
“I used to do pick ups around the CBD from 3am to 6am and then onto close to town,” he said.
“I worked alone so I could listen to lectures on repeat. I would take books to work and read in the lunch break. The job offered a lot of freedom.”
In comparing his two professions, Deacon said that while they were ‘chalk and cheese’, they shared the ‘people factor’.
“You find people from all walks of life are mostly just good people,” he said
“It’s always about the people – about being client focussed and that’s across both roles.
“You have a service to deliver and you do that to the best of your ability.”
Currently, Deacon’s role is to proofread judgements and check for veracity and accuracy as well as facilitate the schedule of a High Court judge.
On August 7, he was admitted and hopes to go to the bar to work as a barrister in commercial law next year.
“It’s a new chapter.”
Deacon is also an academic tutor, helping other students navigate their university experience. He said had two pieces of advice for people making the same switch as he did.
“First, immerse yourself as much as possible,” he said.
“Second, be realistic. By that, I mean that I think one should be realistic about their expectations of themselves and of others.
“This includes your study load, your results, and your effort levels. All of these things will help you balance your experience and keep you on a successful path.”