Richard Henschke is the co-principal of Halfpennys. A respected practitioner in commercial law, adoption, and wills and estate planning, Richard has been practising law for more than 43 years—41 in Darwin.
He first came to Darwin in 1981 as a 25-year old lawyer from Adelaide. Like many of Darwin’s current and previous legal minds, Richard came up to work for Darwin icon George Cridland. After a spell with George, Richard went on to work in Neil Halfpenny’s firm as ‘a junior lawyer with a lot to learn’.
When Halfpenny retired, he asked Richard to take over the practice with another lawyer, which he did in 1986. In his four decades’ practise with Halfpennys, Richard has forged close relationships with his clients, many of which are some of the Territory’s largest companies.
For these clients, Richard isn’t just a lawyer who acts on their behalf but a trusted family and business confidant who’s a guest at many family celebrations.
Richard is the only Northern Territory member of both the national Elder Law and Succession Committee and the Property Law Committee of the Law Council of Australia—the peak body of lawyers in Australia. He’s also the Vice President of the Law Society of the NT.
‘For me, though I’ve been doing this for 43 years, it’s still important to continue professional development, to continue to be relevant and up to date, and to represent the profession and give back to it a bit.
‘I’m also increasingly focused on the need to clearly communicate with people’, he said. ‘English is not the native language of so many people, who don’t often know what they need to do when they find themselves in a legal situation. So avoiding sounding like a lawyer is something I try to do.’
As a legal practitioner, Richard is well known as the go-to lawyer for adoption in the Territory. ‘That part of my work is lovely; I have lots of babies who are now having babies, which is so rewarding.’
Richard is also a conciliator and a mediator. ‘I’m a commercial creature by nature, so I don’t see the value in conflict’, he said. ‘There’s no value in fracturing relationships and breaking up families, and if I can help my clients avoid that course of action, I will.’
Richard considers it a privilege to be a lawyer. ‘Our profession takes a hit fairly regularly, and my job is to address that issue’, he said. ‘To serve the community as an officer of the court is significant, and what I do contributes to keeping our society ticking over. I consider that an honour.’
Richard is interested in words and language and is learning French. He is happiest at home with his family and tending to his bromeliads.