Being argumentative during your teenage years can often land you in trouble with parents and teachers. But for Chris Kahler, it landed him a dream career.
As a youngster growing up in Innisfail and onwards through his schooling and university days, Chris loved to engage in rigorous debate about all kind types of topics and issues. Combined with a natural penchant for being organised, Chris was almost destined to be a lawyer. Indeed, he knew it from about the age of 12. Nearly three decades later, and Chris now runs his own firm Kahler Lawyers, focusing on criminal, traffic, litigation and employment matters.
“I really did enjoy engaging in debate and argument as a student at school and university, and I still do,” Chris told TropicNow. “And yes I suppose I am very organised - just ask my wife. Those things combined, along with a passion for helping people, made the career choice for me a natural one. I love being in the courtroom, so practising in the areas I do makes the courtroom a second office of sorts for me.”
Expanding his firm’s footprint with the opening of an office at the Boland Centre in the Cairns CBD earlier this year to complement the Kahler Lawyers office in Innisfail, Chris stands out in the world of criminal law. The stereotypical image of a criminal lawyer and the type of clients they attract is a world apart from the approach of Chris and his team. Apart from their skill and knowledge in their specific areas of legal expertise, the team at Kahler Lawyers is particularly focused on supporting the well-being of our community.
“We are very community minded and a major part of our firm ethos is not taking the privileged position we hold in society for granted,” Chris said.
“We are the conduit between the community and the law and it’s a role we take seriously."
"Everyone in our office is expected to be part of a community organisation outside of work and although it is not written anywhere, we do place high importance on that. We try and help our clients as best we can in a sensitive, empathetic manner. At the end of the day, a large part of what we do is help people who often approach us in very traumatic, often desperate circumstances. Clients really do feel a sense of a relief just knowing that someone is there to bat for them - often when nobody else is - at a time when emotions are fragile and thoughts are far from rationale. We do not presume to judge our clients rightly or wrongly for their actions - there are judges for that! Our job is to help and guide our clients through the legal process and out the other end in a supportive, professional manner.”
The types of clients and cases dealt with at Kahler Lawyers runs the length and breadth of our society. Chris explains: “Our clients are from all walks of life. We find that many people at one point or another in their lives will be confronted with a legal problem or issue – minor or major – requiring professional support and assistance. It is often the people you least expect who require the greatest help.”
PASSION FOR HELPING OTHERS
This passion for helping others runs deep in the DNA of Kahler Lawyers, spear-headed by a range of community roles Chris has taken on over the years. Chris is currently chair of committees for the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland and president of Warrina Aged Care Innisfail, having sat on the board since 2012.
“The words of John F Kennedy in his inauguration address on 20 January 1961 resonated with me from the day I first heard the words ‘ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ This call to action for the public to do what is right for the greater good in selfless service to others has stayed with me and motivated my volunteer work in the community.”
Apart from expanding his law firm and working in a variety of community roles, Chris and wife Michaela welcomed their first child, baby Hugh, in September.
“Work life balance… what’s that?” Chris jokes. “I must confess that over the years I’ve had difficulty getting my head around that concept. The whole mantra of work-life balance seems such a millennial, snowflake generation thing. Most of the time, it’s ‘work work’ balance but that said, I have never regarded what I do as ‘work’ but more as a ‘passion’. My thoughts about work and things to do stay in the office when I walk out the door at the end of the day. I do not take work home. If I have work to do, it’s done at the office until it’s done. When I walk through the door at home, the phone goes to silent and the emails are ignored until the next day. My time is then totally devoted to my wife and son. I am a big believer in having about 15 minutes of total uninterrupted quiet time first thing in the morning (and usually with a cup of tea) to basically reflect and just enjoy the silence. If I am unable to squeeze that in first thing, then the day is off to a rocky start.”
Underpinning all of the work Chris does in the law and the community is his love for life in Far North Queensland.
Despite a stint working in Canberra, Chris is proud of his historical links to our region.
“We really do live in a beautiful part of the world,” he said. It is only until you live away from it for a while that you truly do miss and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us. The people are fantastic and are my type of people - no nonsense and straight down the line. My family are all based in FNQ - I am fourth generation FNQ and my son is now 5th generation - and it is really important for me to be close to them. Practising in FNQ is really quite unique in that we are all quite collegiate and supportive of one another in and out of business hours which makes the job that much more enjoyable and memorable. I am sure you will be hard pressed to find a lawyer in any one of the capital cities who would share the same experience.”