On Saturday the ABA’s National Conference concluded. The conference was a great success and I again extend my congratulations to all involved. I was particularly struck by the following remarks of the Hon. Justice Stephen Gageler in his keynote address to the conference:
No profession – especially not the Australian legal profession and especially not that branch of the Australian legal profession that is the Australian bar – can long expect to maintain its professionalism without the collegiality that comes through the combination of shared professional experience and serendipitous contact. To adapt a refrain from a current long-running musical production, which has itself withstood COVID, whether or not we are to be counted amongst those who made important things happen, our professional lives are diminished if we are not “in the room where it happens.
Without the combination of shared professional experience and serendipitous contact that comes with physical proximity, individual members of the bar will survive. Boomers in the twilight of their careers will make it to the end. Those who have become curmudgeons will do so happily. Gen X’s will probably do OK. Gen Y’s, and especially those who are at the dawn of their careers will miss out. If they miss out, the bar, and in turn the bench, and ultimately the system of law we both administer, will be weaker for it.
Last night the March 2022 readers signed the Bar Roll and formally became members of the Victorian Bar. In my remarks to the new barristers, I impressed upon them that they are the next generation and that they need to consider where they will be and what the Victorian Bar will look like over the next 50 years. The signing ceremony took place in a full Neil McPhee room in the presence of family and friends of the new barristers and was followed by drinks in the Peter O’Callaghan QC Gallery. It was a very happy occasion and I am sure all members join me in welcoming our latest members. I thank Justin Graham QC, the Readers Course Committee, the Bar Office staff for their hard work and commitment. I also acknowledge and thank the many members of the Bar and the judiciary who volunteered their time to the Readers Course, without which the course would not be possible.
This week the State budget was handed down. While generous provision has been made for the Bendigo law courts redevelopment and the courts case management system, it was disappointing that more money was not allocated to VCAT to assist with the backlog in that important tribunal and that more money was not made available for Victorian Legal Aid. The Bar Council will continue to work for its members in relation to these matters.
This week has seen a flurry of welcomes: on Tuesday I had the privilege of delivering a Welcome on behalf of the Bar for the Hon. Justice Kristen Walker and today I had the privilege of delivering a Welcome on behalf of the Bar and the ABA for the Hon. Justice Helen Rofe. Also today, Charles Shaw QC attended the welcome for Magistrates Cecily Hollingworth and Cynthia Lynch at which Jason Gullaci delivered two outstanding speeches. On behalf of members, I wish each of the judges and each of the magistrates every success and happiness in their service on their respective Courts.
Welcome sittings to be held next week are:
Please see details below.
Tickets for the Bar Dinner on 27 May 2022 are selling fast. I encourage all those who wish to attend to purchase a ticket quickly. You can purchase a ticket or secure a table here.
The LPLC portal is now open for barristers to renew their professional indemnity insurance. The LPLC requires payment of the premium by Tuesday 31 May 2022 and members are encouraged to renew on the LPLC website.
The Victorian Bar is a proud sponsor of Victorian Law Week 2022 which this year will run between 16 -22 May. The Bar is hosting two events during the week, including:
Please see details including registration details below.
Finally, I would like to congratulate and extend my best wishes to John Constable, who this week celebrated 50 years at the Bar. That is a remarkable achievement of which John can be very proud and to which many of us can only aspire.
Róisín Annesley QC