Mark Holden


When did you know that you wanted to be a lawyer?

In 2007 I was fired from my job as a judge on Australian Idol. I was 55 at the time and after a year of introspection I decided to do my articles at Leo Cussen Institute in Melbourne. Quite by accident I met a barrister William Lye who introduced me to the idea of becoming a barrister. In 2009 I was admitted to practice and then completed the Bar Readers’ course and signed the Bar Roll in November of 2009.

Having begun my legal training in Adelaide in 1971, dropping out in 1974, starting again at Monash and graduating in 2001 before finally signing the Bar Roll in 2009  it took 38 years from start to finish. That must be some kind of record.

What attracts you most to the profession of law?

I am at a stage of life where its very rewarding being able to help people in their hour of need. It’s a profession in which I can contribute to society even as I get older so long as I have my health .

What are your passions outside of the law?

Music. I have just released 5 short films on ITunes and by mail order on about my family circus – The Holden Brothers Travelling Circus. The soundtrack is also available – it was made by my family – my son and daughter, wife, brother, cousins and my ex even plays bass!

What was the single moment, case or event that you feel defined you as a lawyer?

Walking out of the Childrens’ Court with my client an Indigenous grandmother and her grandson in her permanent custody after a 2 year battle with the Department. It was a sublime moment.

If you could only give one bit of advice to new lawyers, what would it be?

You must love the profession or find another career.

How do you balance life and work?

I’ve just turned 60 this year and don’t stress over work anymore. If I have nothing to do I do nothing. In an earlier time that would have made me anxious but now I enjoy the down time. That’s the fab thing about being a barrister – its not a 9-5 office bound existence.

What will the legal profession look like in twenty five years time?

1 out of 2 people will be lawyers if the current trend continues.

What is your best tip for maintaining sanity in the law?

Join in the community aspects of the profession. I am a member of the Bar Choir and its really enjoyable interacting with colleagues in a non legal environment .

Better known as a rockstar and former judge on the popular entertainment show “Australian Idol”, Mark Holden, is also a Victorian Barrister, having signed the Roll of Counsel in 2009. He practices in the criminal and civil jurisdictions with a strong focus on social justice.