He’s a stalwart of the industry but Mark Spiegelhauer’s career, that’s now etched into Townsville conveyancing legend, might not ever have happened if not for falling in love.
Conveyancing in Townsville will never quite be the same again after the retirement of industry stalwart, and all-round good guy, Mark Spiegelhauer this month.
After 44 years and around 30,000 conveyances Mark is believed to be the longest serving conveyancer in Queensland,
Despite doing the job for almost half a century he says he still loves it and is proud of the legacy he is leaving behind.
How does it feel to be retired after almost half a century with conveyancing legend status?
It’s quite interesting because, I’ve still lgot my first ever pay slip somewhere and I think I started on about the 7th or 8th of September, so it’s almost 44 years to the day since I started out.
It was a bit scary walking in on the last Monday of my working life, I’ve never been unemployed a day in my life that I didn’t want to be.
I’m grateful to the team at Purcell Taylor. They’ve looked after me, I’ve looked after them. It’s been two-way street and I’ve loved working here and it is going to hurt to leave.
“I’m now acting for grand children of my clients from 30 years ago”
What are you most proud of about your career?
I’m most proud of the mateship, the friendships and the respect I’ve achieved over the years with all sorts of people; my peers, my clients and financiers – they respect my advice and I’m proud to say I don’t think I’ve ever let them down.
I have some clients who have stuck with me from the start and I’m now acting for grand children of clients from 30 years ago.
It makes you proud to have made an impression on somebody so many years ago and they remember it, so it must have been a good experience.
Everybody is amazed that I stuck it out for so long because many people who’ve done the job, never want to do it again. The pressure is high, the turnarounds are fast and often the hours are long.
I’m on call 24/7. It’s not uncommon to get a phone call at night or on weekends from agents or clients wanting some urgent advice or wanting some particular contract clauses put into the system. My home office is set up – I’ve got everything at home that I have here.
That’s the sort of service people want and need.
How did you get into conveyancing to begin with?
When I was in high school I was a bit of a sportsman and all I wanted to do was become a P.E. teacher. The only P.E. course was in Brisbane at the time and you needed the equivalent of a O.P. one (1) to make it in.
I decided to repeat year 12 to get a higher score, which I did. But as fate would have it I met a young lady called Mandy and that would change my entire outlook.
Chasing a P.E. teaching career would have meant leaving Townsville and leaving this beautiful girl behind so I decided to stay and instead started studying commerce, economics and law at JCU.
Luckily I married that girl and 41 years later she’s still putting up with me.
But all my friends had apprenticeships, so they had money and I didn’t and about eight months into studying I decided to leave uni and take up a job specialising in Wills and estates and property work at a the Union-fidelity Trustee Company.
When that role ended in around September 1981, a conveyancer role came up at a major local firm. I applied and was successful and as they say, the rest is history.
I’ve been at Purcell Taylor Lawyers now for the past 11 years and they are just wonderful people to work for.
“I loved the thrill of the chase, I still do. But I’m glad to be getting out now, I think my used by date recently passed and I have other things on my mind.”
How has conveyancing changed over the years?
It has changed dramatically. Up until about seven or eight years ago you would have the local bank manager attend settlements with a bank cheque and they would take such pride in doing a personal job with clients.
Then is started to become centralised in larger cities and we lost a lot of the local representatives. Nowadays we’re also dealing with people offshore. So the personal touch has definitely been lost over the years.
The process itself has also changed and there are lot more hoops to jump through just to to organise a settlement. Soon it will all shift again to an electronic system, which is the way of the future in conveyancing.
So, I’m getting out just at the right time so that I don’t have to learn it (laughs).
Why have you chosen to retire now?
This (retirement) has been in planning for over 12 months. I was actually supposed to retire in January but I stayed on until Purcell Taylor were able to bring together the right conveyancing team and I’m happy to move on now.
My wife Mandy retired two months ago and she’s saying ‘where the heck are you?’ (laughs).
We’ve both worked hard and also raised two beautiful girls together who are both married now, so it’s just us at home.
Mandy and I have plans to do some travelling around Queensland (COVID-permitting). My family has a little house in Cardwell so we go up there and do some fishing, play a bit of golf and generally just kick back and enjoy time with family.