Tuesday night was a busy night for Annual General Meetings.
I attended the Victorian Bar Foundation [VBF] directors meeting followed by its Annual General meeting. The Chair, the Hon. John Digby QC was pleased and excited to announce that the Hon. Justice Michelle Gordon AC has recently accepted an invitation to become the Patron of the Foundation. The VBF, which was established as a not-for-profit organisation in 2011, works to promote several causes in the community, including encouraging and supporting young adults from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds to consider and pursue a career in the law and in particular a career at the Victorian Bar. The Foundation welcomes input from members as to how best to achieve its aims and to engage with any particular community to encourage the future diversity of our Bar. Members who are in a position to make a donation to the Foundation can do so via the donation form here.
I then attended the Annual General Meeting of the Australian Bar Association [ABA], followed by a meeting of its new directors. Mr Matthew Howard SC, who retired after two years as President, was thanked for his considerable work and commitment to the ABA. The newly elected President of the ABA is the Victorian Bar’s very own Dr Matthew Collins AM QC, former President of the Victorian Bar. I wish Matthew every success in his Presidency of the ABA. One of the major events for the ABA in 2022 will be its annual conference which is to be held in Victoria. I encourage all members to attend the conference. Bookings are now open here.
On 25 November 2021, dinners were held in Melbourne and Sydney, connected by zoom, to announce the winner of the William Ah Ket Scholarship for 2021. Charles Shaw QC, Vice President attended the Melbourne dinner on behalf of the Bar. As many members would be aware, William Ah Ket, the son of migrants from Canton, was born in Wangaratta in 1876 and practised at the Victorian Bar from 1904 until his death in 1936. The William Ah Ket Scholarship was established by the Asian Australian Lawyers Association in 2017 to encourage law students and lawyers in the early stages of their career to contribute to the development and promotion of cultural diversity in the legal profession. William Lye OAM QC is the Chair of the scholarship committee. This year's scholarship was won by Sarah Webster, a solicitor at Herbert Smith Freehills in Sydney.
Last night the September 2021 readers, who virtually signed the Roll in October 2021, physically signed the Bar Roll. These readers completed the entire readers course on line and last night was the first official function for them to gather as a group and with their mentors. They were understandably excited and very happy. I was delighted to welcome the 46 new members of the Bar and I wish each of them a happy and satisfying career. I would like to acknowledge and thank the many people who make the Readers such a success: The Bar’s Education Manager Nina Massara; the Education Coordinator of the Reader’s course, Nikki Walker; the members of the Readers’ Course Committee, ably chaired by Justin Graham QC; the many members of the Bar, Judges, retired Judges and Magistrates who generously donate their time to teach in the course.
On Monday morning, 29 November 2021, the new Senior Counsel for 2021 will take their bows in the Supreme Court of Victoria, the Federal Court and Federal Circuit and Family Law Court of Australia. Unfortunately, and for a variety of reasons, the ceremonies will be conducted virtually. The new silks will take their bows together and in the presence of their families and peers, the Bar has organised a ‘courtroom’ in the Neil McPhee room. All members of the bar are welcome to attend, please note, registration is required via the link here. Counsel are required to be robed. If you would like to join virtually, please see links to join in the article below.
Sunday, 28 November 2021 marks the commencement of the eight day Festival of Chanukah. To members of the Bar who will be celebrating the Festival of Light -Happy Chanukah to them and their families.
Róisín Annesley QC