Cover Story

Criminal law – not all sex, drugs & cops on the take

B2B Editor25 May 2013

On a typically fresh, Canberra autumn morning, B2B

sat down with Ben Aulich and newly appointed Partner

Peter Woodhouse of Ben Aulich & Associates for a

candid chat about the often misperceived world of

criminal law and the passion and drive that has seeded

the growth of their specialist firm.

How can you be a criminal defence lawyer? It’s the predictable question that Aulich has heard countless times.”I think for some there’s an element of judgement but, for most, they are intrigued,” he says.

But with over a decade of experience in criminal law, it isn’t a question that Aulich is fazed by, or one he expects to stop having to answer any time soon. Fuelled by what is portrayed in the mainstream media – television shows like Underbelly, Law & Order, and The Sopranos – Aulich believes there is not only a curiosity and intrigue that accompanies crime and criminal law, but also a lot of misconceptions about what the firm does and who it deals with.

“People watch TV shows, read about high profile criminal cases, and develop a misinformed view of what we do,” he says. “Most of our clients haven’t stepped straight off the set of a scene from Underbelly. A lot of people arrive at our first meeting accompanied by family members. They’re stressed and often embarrassed. In most instances there’s a feeling of uncertainty, which is partly due to wrong perceptions people have about criminal law.

“This understanding of the client’s mindset has spawned the culture and approach that the firm has become renowned for. It is a culture that resonates well with clients, especially those who may be embarrassed about the situation that they are in, according to Woodhouse.

“Very quickly, clients realise we approach their situation like another serious legal matter,” he says. “Their case is handled professionally, confidentially, and sensitively. They leave the first meeting feeling a lot more at ease and confident they have the right legal representation.

“That sentiment is echoed throughout the firm. “We have a strong reputation for our professionalism, dedication, and willingness to fight for our clients, and they respond well to this,” Aulich says.

Having grown to over ten staff since the firm was established in 2008, the culture is paying dividends and the growth has been the catalyst for some key changes over the past 12 months. In April 2012 the team moved into a new office in Hobart Place, Canberra City, and in January of this year Woodhouse was appointed as a Partner. Aulich believes both milestones are indicative of the growth and success of the firm, and important stepping stones as they look to consolidate their position as Canberra’s premier criminal law firm.

“We wanted an office that would reflect who we are and the way that we approach our work, as well as be a space that clients feel comfortable in,” Aulich says. “Having been in the new office for 12months it feels like home and is something that we’re proud of.

“And as for the decision to appoint Woodhouse as a Partner, “He blackmailed me,” Aulich jokes. “I’ve always respected Peter’s expertise and his input is invaluable to the success of the firm,” he continues. “Having him as a Partner will go a long way to ensuring that our success continues.






“After a busy and eventful 12 months, Aulich is confident that his newest venture, Aulich Civil Law, will enjoy the same success as Ben Aulich & Associates, even though it is something that wasn’t always on the cards.

“It is something that has developed organically,” he says. “We didn’t plan to broaden our focus, but found a lot of clients asked us to help them with other disputes they were involved in.

“Aulich Civil Law is a boutique civil litigation firm for clients who wish to take a ‘gloves off’ approach to litigation.

“The touchy feely ideas of alternative dispute resolution and mediation just aren’t for everyone and we wanted to offer our clients an alternative – aggressive litigation,” Aulich says.

While establishing the new firm has been an exciting endeavour, maintaining the criminal focus of Ben Aulich & Associates was imperative.

“Setting up Aulich Civil Law as a completely separate entity was important,” Aulich says. “Ben Aulich & Associates was established as specialist criminal law firm and the specialist focus is something that whenever wants to dilute.






Woodhouse points out that the two firms share the culture and approach that Ben Aulich & Associates was built on.

“At Aulich Civil Law, clients receive professional and direct advice, “he says. “As a boutique firm we have a competitive edge, you’re not just a number. Coming from a criminal law background, we embrace the litigation side of civil matters.

“Aulich says, tongue in cheek, that Aulich Civil Law is the place to go when a “civil matter is no longer civil”.

With an eventful 12 months behind them, the two Partners are looking forward to what lies ahead.

“We’re looking forward to both firms growing,” Aulich says. “Fighting hard for our clients is what drives us and we’ll continue to do so, whether it be criminal or civil litigation.

If facing a criminal matter, the right representation is important. The team at Ben Aulich & Associates is experienced in protecting the rights of clients in matters involving both police and non-police prosecutions. Specific areas of expertise:

* Non-police prosecutions such as prosecutions involving the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, Australian Taxation Office, WorkCover and Centrelink

* White collar crimes such as fraud, theft, deception

* Drug offences including conspiracy and importation

* Sexual offences

* Assault

* Protection and Domestic Violence Orders

* Drink driving

Phone: 6279 4222 Fax: 6279 4233 Email: [email protected]

If in custody or if your query is urgent,

please call the 24 hour advice line: 1800 080 212

Ground Floor, 3 Hobart Place, Canberra City ACT