Hugh McAulay and Neville Hesford grew up together in the Bowral and Moss Vale area before heading off to Canberra to study law and now they are returning home to run Stacks Law Firm in Bowral.
"We grew up as childhood friends, went to the same primary school, both played soccer for the Moss Vale team, explored the local national parks together and were roommates while studying law in Canberra, so we really know how each other works," Hugh McAulay said.
Nev admits their younger days bushwalking weren't always successful. "We were doing the Box Vale Track and got lost, so had to have an impromptu night sleeping under the stars. It all worked out well, but from that 'lost in the bush' experience we learned the importance of preparation and planning for any project."
Nev was the more sporty of the youngsters, winning a bronze medal for under 13's at the NSW cycling championships. Hugh was the showman, performing in local musicals including Les Misérables and Fiddler on the Roof.
There was little time for theatre or sport as they built respected careers as lawyers at different firms in Canberra.
"We never had to battle each other in court because we worked in different areas of law, but we both felt the Southern Highlands was constantly calling us home," Hugh said.
They stayed close as their careers grew. Both are now aged 31. Hugh was best man at Nev's wedding, and Nev was a groomsman at Hugh's wedding.
"I met my wife through Nev's family, and now Nev and I both have young kids. We really love bushwalking around Bowral and the Southern Highlands and would come back here as often as we could while working in Canberra. We always thought it would be a tremendous place to raise a family."
Four years ago, after Nev had his first child, he was determined his family should grow up in the beauty of the Highlands. He left Canberra to join Stacks Law Firm, and decided Bowral was where he should use his skills to help local people with legal problems.
When the opportunity came to run the Stacks Law Firm office in Bowral, Nev was quick to bring in Hugh.
Together, they now take over Stacks Southern Highlands, returning the office to its original location in Springetts' Arcade in Bowral. They concentrate on commercial law as it applies to small businesses, company leasing and property, conveyancing, and wills and estates.
Stacks former managing director Clayton Davis wants to concentrate on his successful corporate and insolvency legal work. He will stay in Bowral under the new name Stacks Davis.