Not ready to hang up the wig

A LISMORE barrister who celebrated 40 years in the legal profession on the weekend says he is not ready to hang up his wig and robes just yet.

Nicolas Harrison got his start in the legal world working for legal aid during his final year of university in the 1970s.

He has since stood on both sides of the bar, prosecuting his fair share of murderers, rapists and even a magistrate.

"After 12 years (with the Director of Public Prosecutions) I was number two and in charge of 100 lawyers," he said.

"Once you get to that high in the tree you are virtually managing paper, you are not in court cases any more.

"I missed that ... so in 1986 I took a Crown job."

Mr Harrison names one of his biggest cases as prosecuting those responsible for the Bathurst Jail riots.

Forty-eight prisoners were charged with burning down the jail. The trial ran for two and a half years.

The other memorable case involved prosecuting Chief Magistrate Murray Farquhar who was found guilty of perverting the course of justice in the early 1980s.

"I did that as when I joined the DPP I was the only one who hadn't come through the court system. I came straight through law school and I didn't know him," he said.

"They needed someone impartial."

Despite the angry and often revengeful defendants that prosecutors have the joy of crossing, Mr Harrison has only ever received one death threat.

In the "hardest trial" he ever had, a man was sentenced to 32 years jail, 24 non-parole in 1994 for the rape of two young girls, 8 and 10 years old in Port Macquarie.

"I had threats from the accused in the trial - hand signals from the dock, gun to the head, knife to the throat, etc.," Mr Harrison explained.

But after more than three decades representing the Crown, Mr Harrison jumped sides.

He became and still is a defence barrister in Lismore.

"I didn't know how the lawyers in town would treat me. I ended up being better treated by the private profession than the people in the DPP I left behind," he said.

Mr Harrison treats his job like a TV show, which he switches on at 9am and off at 5pm.

He juggles his legal work with a position as chairman of the Summerland Credit Union and as an academic at Southern Cross University.

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