HIGH-PROFILE criminal lawyer Doug Winning leaving the Rockhampton Court House.
HIGH-PROFILE criminal lawyer Doug Winning leaving the Rockhampton Court House. Amy Formosa

Top criminal lawyer faces his own legal nightmare

ROCKHAMPTON criminal lawyer Doug Winning has been ordered to pay $71,532 in legal costs after being found guilty of professional misconduct in 2015.

Winning says the decision handed down on May 25 is right and admits liability, but has slammed the Legal Services Commission for focussing on "soft targets like me" on relatively minor matters while ignoring its key role in curbing overcharging in personal injury claims.

"That's one of the core reasons it was set up and its the very thing they're not doing," he said.

"They're running around pinching a solicitor in Rockhampton, having a spat with a Crown Prosecutor in a trial no one cares about."

Winning admits to calling his opponent during a 2012 criminal trial "dishonest", but said reports in southern media that he swore at the judge were "bullshit".

He says he never swore at the judge and was just thinking aloud when profanities were picked up on sensitive court microphones.

"This opponent of mine said something and I said 'that's f*@&n bullshit' to my instructing clerk as the judge was talking," he said.

"The profanities were barely audible and they certainly weren't audible to people in the public gallery."

Regardless, he's been slapped with a $71,000 bill, but avoided being removed from the roll of solicitors.

It's not the first time Winning has found himself on the other side of his profession.

The adverse publicity over the years has taken a personal toll and his outspokenness has come at a cost.

"No mother likes to pick up a newspaper and read about her son being referred to as a 'foul-mouthed bikie lawyer'. The client was a police officer," he said.

Winning maintains that morale in the solicitors branch of the profession has never been lower.

Especially among solicitors who comprise the small firms in Queensland who feel they are over-regulated and can't compete with big corporate advertising compensation firms.

He said the system worked in favour of corporate compensation lawyers and the Legal Services Commission was looking out for soft targets, rather than the big personal injury firms overcharging on compensation cases.

"These no win no fee corporate lawyers - there's two things about them," he said.

"First, if you don't have a winning claim, they don't want you.

"Secondly, if you're only worth $10,000 they don't want you, but if you're worth $400,000, they'll take $180,000 or $200,000 off you and are likely to settle at the first settlement conference."

Winning said for him to charge $180,000 in a court matter, "it would have to be a trial that goes on for a year".

"This is going on with impunity," he said.

"When Chief Justice Carmody was appointed, we had senior members of the profession running around vilifying him publicly.

"Did anyone finish up before the LSC over that? Of course not."

Winning is no silver-tongued lawyer and said he is an outsider in his profession.

"I've been doing what I took an oath to do, defending my clients with all the vigour I can muster," he said.

"In doing so, my personal imperfections surface from time to time."

The son of a Brisbane police inspector, Winning said it's in his DNA.

His grandfather fought at Flanders Field in 1918 and his uncle, Arch Winning, captained the Australian rugby union team in the 1940s.

He recalls the time Arch broke "a big pommie forward's" jaw and the sound was so loud "it was like a cannon going off in Wembley Stadium".

He said his mum was a "bushie" and that earthiness in his upbringing defines who is he today.

"There were no private schools for us," he said.

Winning was estranged from his father for a time as a teenager and lived on the streets for a while before eventually studying the law.

He's been sober for 12 years now, but admits to being a big drinker and gambler in the earlier years.

"I still like a punt on the horses," he said.

As his name suggests, Winning is not one to give in and with a $71,000 bill to pay, he'll be back in Rockhampton's courtrooms on Monday.

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