Managing Director of Ready Media Group, Rob Langton, recently sat down with acclaimed lawyer, property pioneer & philanthropist Julius Colman, in an exclusive one-on-one interview. We’ve parsed through the hour-long conversation to bring you the highlights from this extensive and enthralling discussion.
Colman studied Law at the University of Melbourne... thanks to his skill with the violin
“I got into law by the most bizarre circumstances.”
Colman studied a Bachelor of Law at the University of Melbourne, but due to his family’s financial situation at the time, it was his extracurricular pursuits which earned him a place at the institution.
“My parents being European, when you’re eight years old they stick a violin in your hand and you’ve got to practice.”
By the time he was 12, he was honing his craft for two hours a day, in-and-amongst regular schooling and football training. He estimates that he put in somewhere between 7,000-8,000 hours towards developing his proficiency at the violin.
“At the age of 12, I passed with a mark of 99. I passed a violin exam which was three grades higher than the violin exam I would have to sit if I was sitting it for VCE or matriculation.”
As such, he decided that he would take on violin as a formal school subject, solely because he wouldn’t need to study for it. He knew that this was the entry point for him to make it into university.
“In those days, you had to pay [for university]. So I wasn’t going to go to university unless I got a scholarship that paid for everything... it was only my violin mark that pushed me over that limit.”
Even if he hadn’t have made it into university, Colman had options, thanks to his violin skill.
“Had I not got that high a violin mark, I’d already been accepted into an orchestra in the United States.”
As it stands, the University of Melbourne accepted Colman, and the rest is history. It seemed to work out for the best, anyway; he admits that he’s not a lover of classical music. “I love rock ‘n roll.”
His entry into the property world? Helping legal clients save their compensation
“I was doing the personal injury work... most of the people working in factories in the northern suburbs were migrants. They were put on machines that they often couldn’t work properly. They had a lot of industrial accidents.”
Colman was involved in securing compensation for workers who had been injured at work, and he was finding that often, the compensation that his clients acquired would run out, and quickly. As such, his firm offered free advice, in an attempt to forewarn his clients on the pitfalls of the compensation sum.
“Instead of sending you your cheque... we’d say, “The cheque’s ready; come in and talk to us.” And when you came in to talk to us, we’d give you an hour of free advice. The advice was: don’t blow your money, everyone else does.”
So, how did they advise prolonging that compensation money?
“The way to not blow your money, is to buy a house or a flat.”
He admits, it wasn’t a completely foolproof plan.
“We’d invented another way for them to lose their money, cause they’d go to the local estate agent, they’d get ripped off or they’d buy something they didn’t know anything about.”
The solution to this dilemma was to offer to personally source the property for the clients. Colman had already bought a few houses with his partner at his law firm, and knew what to look for.
Whilst MCS Property wasn’t launched as a listed vehicle until 1992, this was the inception of the business; as an endeavour designed to keep money in the pockets of those who needed it most.