In Brief Issue #1142

Georgina Schoff KC

Bar Exam and Readers’ Course

Last week, Bar Council received the Report of the 5-Year Exam Review Panel chaired by the Hon. Peter Riordan KC. The report made 17 recommendations and 4 suggestions for substantial changes to the Bar Exam and the Readers’ Course. The changes are designed to ensure that the Exam does not unnecessarily restrict entry to the Bar and to increase the number of places in the Readers’ Course. Members can read the report (with some redactions to protect confidential information which I am confident are not material to an understanding of the report) here.

I am very pleased to inform you that at a Special Purpose meeting on Tuesday evening, Bar Council unanimously agreed to adopt almost all the recommendations. Recommendations 1-12 involve the standard, format, and conduct of the Exam, which we have resolved will be held twice annually and comprise three separate papers designed to ensure that candidates have a base level of core knowledge of ethics, evidence, and procedure. Candidates will be required to pass all three papers to gain admission to the Readers’ Course but will elect to sit either a civil or criminal procedure paper and will have the option of sitting the papers on different occasions. Papers that are failed can be repeated within a permitted exam period.

Recommendations 13-16 deal with the Readers’ Course, which will be increased to a capacity of 60 Readers per course and will be of shorter duration to enable a third course, if necessary, in any year. The Bar Council is confident that a course of shortened duration focusing on advocacy will serve Readers well. While the report recommends a course duration of five weeks, Bar Council is currently consulting with the Bar Office and the Readers’ Course Committee to determine whether the course should be five or six weeks.  

In conjunction with the recommended changes, the report also suggests increasing the reading period to 12 months and bolstering the reading requirements in various ways, including requiring Readers to undertake a number of compulsory CPD sessions during the reading period. These might replace some of the sessions that will not be able to be taught in the five or six week Readers’ Course.

Bar Council did not adopt Recommendation 17, which was to allow Readers to pay their course fees in instalments, but is looking at other ways to support Readers who may require financial support.

These are significant changes that will no doubt change the shape of our Bar. However, we are confident that they will do so in ways that will only enhance our great institution. We are keen to receive feedback from members, particularly those who have had or are considering having a Reader, as to the four suggestions with respect to the reading period and we encourage you all to let us know your thoughts. As it is imperative that we move swiftly we seek your feedback by 16 April 2024. You can contact any member of Bar Council or simply send me an email.

The Bar Council is extremely grateful to the Hon. Peter Riordan KC and his committee for their clear and considered advice to the Bar and the thorough consultation that they have undertaken. It has given us the confidence to act.

Prescribed sexual harassment and bullying awareness training

I was pleased to see so many in attendance on Monday evening for the first of our sexual harassment and bullying awareness training sessions. Although the training is prescribed for those wishing to apply for silk, it is open to anyone of 10 years’ call. I always come away having learnt something, and it is an excellent opportunity to come together with colleagues to discuss these critical conduct issues that affect us all. The introduction of the bullying element this year certainly sparked some very interesting group discussions. I thank our panellists Mark Irving KC, Jonathan Kirkwood S.C., Minal Vohra S.C. and Fiona Ryan S.C., and Michelle James of the Bar Office who supported us. A second session is scheduled for Wednesday, 17 April. Click here to register.

The Chief Justice has also approved a separate bullying awareness training session for those silk applicants who completed the sexual harassment awareness training last year. A Zoom webinar will be held on Thursday, May 9, at 5:30pm. The details will be provided after silk applications close on Friday, April 12, 2024, at 5:00pm.

Accepting briefs for the Commonwealth  - increase in counsel rate regime

I have been corresponding with the Federal Attorney-General’s department concerning the engagement of counsel under the Legal Services Direction 2017. Under the regime, agencies can engage counsel at rates up to specified thresholds—$2300 per day for junior counsel and $3500 per day for senior counsel. However, either the department or the Attorney-General can approve rates exceeding these thresholds, taking into account counsel's expertise, commercial rate, and past approvals for similar cases. 

This week, I received a letter from the department informing me that recent data indicates a significant increase in both the average and maximum rates approved above the threshold. For junior counsel, the average approved rate has risen from $2500 to $3520, with the maximum rate climbing to between $4500 and $5000. Similarly, for senior counsel, the average approved rate has increased from $4150 to $5300, with the maximum rate now ranging from $10,000 to $12,000. Those who are briefed by the Commonwealth will no doubt welcome this information.

Crimes Amendment (Strengthening the Criminal Justice Response to Sexual Violence) Bill 2024

This week, the Victorian Bar provided detailed submissions to the Law Council in response to the Crimes Amendment (Strengthening the Criminal Justice Response to Sexual Violence) Bill 2024. The submissions, prepared by the Human Rights Committee and the Criminal Bar Association, critically analyse the proposed amendments with a view to ensuring that they do not unduly trammel the rights of accused persons to a fair trial. A copy of the submission can be found here and the supplementary submission can be found here.

Little v Vic Bar

A recent decision of Deputy President Britten-Jones and Mr Grant Pearson, Chairperson of the New Zealand Trans-Tasman Occupations Tribunal, has affirmed the Victorian Bar’s decision not to grant a barrister practising certificate to an employed barrister from New Zealand. I thank Sam Rosewarne KC and Chris Fitzgerald of counsel, for their assistance in this matter. A copy of the decision can be found here.

Other matters

On Monday afternoon, Liz Bennett S.C. attended a farewell for her Honour Magistrate Anne Goldsbrough. On behalf of the Victorian Bar, I wish her Honour well in retirement and thank her for her service on the bench.

On Wednesday, I along with Liz Bennett S.C., Raini Zambelli, and representatives of the Law Institute of Victoria, met with Chief Justice Mortimer and the CEO of the Federal Court, Ms Sia Lagos, to discuss matters concerning practice in the Court and particularly the role of National Practice Area user groups. Afterwards, we joined the Chief Justice and other judges of the Court for an informal lunch to which the Chairs of our Committees and other junior members of the Bar were invited. The Chief Justice spoke of her first year in office and the work that she and the Court are doing to improve the Court’s systems. We are grateful to the Chief Justice for the interest that she has taken in our Bar and the issues that arise for our members in the Court and we look forward to welcoming her Honour shortly when she addresses the Readers.

I wish you all a safe and happy break over the Easter holiday.

Georgina Schoff KC

Vicbar News & Events
Vale — John Kaufman KC

Bar Roll No: 743

It is with deep regret that the Bar informs members of the death of John Kaufman KC on Saturday, 24 March.  John signed the Bar Roll on 25 February 1965 and read with the Honourable R.G. DeB Griffith QC.  He had nine Readers, was appointed silk on 24 February 1992, and retired in 2006.

John served the Bar as a member of the Dispute Resolution Committee and an Editor of the Victorian Bar News. His commitment to the Victorian Bar and his depth of legal knowledge was well-known and respected by his many friends and colleagues.

A funeral will be held at the Boyd Chapel, Springvale Botanical Cemetery, Second Ave, Springvale on:

Thursday, 28 March 2024 at 9:30am.

Following the funeral, a Synagogue service will be held at Leo Baeck Centre, 31-37 Harp Road, East Kew, on:

Thursday, 28 March 2024, at 6:00pm.

He will be missed by his former colleagues, family and friends alike.

Practising Certificate & Professional Indemnity Insurance Renewal – 2024/25

You should have received an email from the Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner (VLSB+C) on Monday, 25 March 2024, outlining details of the practising certificate (PC) and professional indemnity insurance (PII) renewal process.

LSB Online went live on Monday, 25 March 2024, for the renewal of your PC. Members must renew by Sunday, 30 June 2024, to continue to practise on Monday, 1 July 2024. Members who renew after this date will incur a late renewal surcharge from the VLSB+C and will be unable to practise until a new PC has been issued.

The LPLC portal is expected to open in early April 2024 for PII renewal. The LPLC will publish further information closer to that date. PII premium payment is required by Friday, 31 May 2024, and members are encouraged to renew online on the LPLC website. You must complete both your PII insurance and your LSB Online application for your PC to renew.

Information on renewing practising certificates can be found on the VicBar website here.

Links for online lodgement will be available from the VLSB+C and LPLC live dates, or you may go directly to LSB Online and the LPLC website when live.

Please login to LSB Online and the LPLC renewal portal using your Practitioner Number as the username (your Practitioner Number will be included in the email sent to you by the VLSB+C). LSB Online deals with all PC administrative matters, and there is no printed PC renewal form. If you have forgotten your password, you can reset this on the LSB Online login screen by selecting ‘forgot password’. You will receive an email to reset your password.

If you experience technical difficulties with LSB Online, please contact the VLSB+C via their lawyer enquiry form. Frequently asked questions and LSB Online user guides can also be found here.

Should you require assistance renewing your PC, the Victorian Bar office can help you, and members who need assistance should email or contact Daphne Ioannidis on (03) 9225 8326 or Mark Bryant on (03) 9225 7105.

Expression of Interest – Peter O'Callaghan QC Gallery Foundation Director

The Peter O'Callaghan QC Gallery Foundation calls for expressions of interest from members who wish to be considered for appointment as a Director of the Foundation.  

The Peter O'Callaghan QC Gallery Foundation was established to ensure that the Art and Collections Committee can continue to build the important visual history of the Bar and focuses on funding the commission of future works to the Gallery through donations and legacies from members and friends of the Bar.

Nominations close at 5:00pm, Thursday, 11 April 2024, and should be emailed to

Call of Expressions of Interest – Tasmanian Farm Debt Mediators

The Tasmanian Government is in the process of establishing a Farm Debt Mediation program. Once established, the program will require register of accredited mediators available to be hired by farmers or creditors for mediation. The Tasmanian Government is currently seeking to understand the availability of appropriately qualified Farm Debt Mediators in Tasmania, as well as any mediators that would be able to provide services but are located nationally.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee is calling for Expressions of Interest from members who wish to be part of the register that the Tasmanian Government is currently establishing.

To assist the ADR Committee in selecting the names to be forwarded, your expression of interest should identify any relevant areas of experience or expertise. Please also include a copy of your current curriculum vitae.

Please direct any enquiries or expressions of interest to The closing date for Expressions of Interest is 5:00pm, Friday, 5 April 2024.

Eid Celebration – 17 April 2024

The Equality & Diversity Committee has resolved not to hold an Iftar dinner in 2024 due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The Committee recognises that many members of the Bar have been deeply affected by the ongoing conflict.

In lieu of attending the dinner this year, the Committee invites all members to consider making a donation to a charitable cause of their choice.

This year the Bar will mark the end of Ramadan with a morning tea from 9:15am - 10:15am on Wednesday, 17 April in the Peter O'Callaghan QC Gallery in Owen Dixon Chambers West.

Coffee, Tea and light refreshments will be served.

Click here to register to attend.

Victorian Bar Dinner

All members of the Bar and Judiciary are warmly invited to the Dinner on Saturday, 18 May 2024, at 7:00pm at the National Gallery of Victoria. The event is black tie and will feature guest speaker The Honourable Justice Robert Beech-Jones, High Court of Australia.

Tickets for the event are now available. You can book individually, as a guest on an organised table, or as a table organiser.

Event: 2024 Victorian Bar Dinner

Date: Saturday, 18 May 2024
Time: 7:00pm for 7:30pm start

Venue: National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3006
Dress: Black Tie

Click here to purchase your ticket.

If you did not receive an invitation, please contact

Bar Library Survey

The Bar’s Library Committee are seeking members’ feedback regarding the library’s existing facilities and resources, as well as arrangements with the Law Library of Victoria.

Members are encouraged to respond to the survey so the Bar can make an informed decision regarding its library collections, new acquisition practices, and funding allocation.

The survey will close on Tuesday, 30 April 2024.

Click here to complete the survey.

Open Justice Project Survey

You are invited to participate in a survey regarding the Victorian Bar/Monash University Open Justice Project. The purpose of the survey is to review the demand for the Project and assess its awareness amongst barristers. The survey will also help identify steps that can be taken to increase the requests for assistance from barristers.

The survey will take approximately five minutes to complete and will be open until 5:00pm on Tuesday, 2 April 2024. Your participation in the survey would be greatly appreciated.

Please click here to complete the survey.


Victorian Law Week 2024 – Interested in hosting an event?

Law Week is scheduled for Monday, 20 May, to Sunday, 26 May 2024.

The Victoria Law Foundation is now accepting proposals for events.

The Victorian Bar is a sponsor of Law Week, and we are seeking members and committees interested in hosting an event.

If you have a great idea for an event that will improve the Victorian community’s understanding of the law or the legal system, let us know by emailing the Victorian Bar team at

Lawyers Mediation Certificate Course

Mediation is an essential part of the justice system, with a great many litigated matters being referred to mediation. Barristers and law professionals wishing to become an accredited mediator under the National Mediator Accreditation System can register for the Lawyers Mediation Certificate (LMC) six-day course (on 17-19 May & 24-26 May 2024) here. Places are limited.

End of CPD Year

The VicBar CPD Committee would like to remind members that the last day to complete your CPD requirements is Sunday, 31 March 2024.

If you haven’t completed your requirements yet, don’t worry — log in to the VicBar website, and an extensive list of recordings is available for viewing on our CPD catalogue.

If you have extenuating circumstances and are unable to complete it in time, please ensure you notify the CPD Committee ASAP by emailing

BCL Updates
  • Don’t forget to complete the BCL Chamber Insights Survey: In follow up to the recent Future of the Bar Survey results, it is important for BCL to understand how these affect the BCL model and the need for chambers in the future. If you have BCL chambers, please click here and spend less than 5 minutes to provide your valuable, anonymous feedback.
  • The BCL Service Desk will be closed from 29 March (Good Friday) to 1 April (Easter Monday). Click here for further information.
  • Why Take Chambers with BCL? As a wholly owned subsidiary of the Victorian Bar, BCL provides a flexible and unique solution of chamber and technology support only available to members of the Bar. Click here to view our current vacancies.
Vicbar Life
Vic Bar Rainbow Drinks – Welcome Readers 3 April 2024, 5:00pm

Please join us for a cocktail after the Easter recess and help us welcome the latest cohort of Readers.

Event details:

When?  Wednesday, 3 April 2024, from 5:00pm onwards

Where? The Douglas Club, 472 Bourke Street (Equity Chambers).

This is an inclusive event, welcoming members of our LGBTQI+ community as well as friends and allies. Wear what you want. Everyone is welcome. 

If you haven’t been along before and want some company, feel free to email John Heard or Beth Warnock, and they will look out for you on the night.

The Essoign Club

We are open daily from 7.30am – till late

Breakfast – for dine-in or takeaway.

Lunch – Daily Café Menu dine-in or takeaway.

Lunch Dine-In – A La Carte from midday.

Bar – EVERY EVENING   $5 Beer & Wine from 4.30pm – 5.30pm

Catering & Events – Special lunches, working lunches, private dinners, or something special you may have in mind. Email us at

Our new Spring Summer Menu is available here

Member Benefits portal for Bar members

Victorian Bar members are encouraged to use the Member Benefits online portal, where you can access a wide variety of discounts, special offers, and member-only deals as part of your Bar membership.

The exclusive benefits are available Australia-wide and are not generally open to the public.

To activate your account and access the benefits, please click here. You must log in using your login details.

Click here for the monthly Best Buys!

Practice & Profession News
Magistrates’ Court of Victoria Civil Fee Change

Magistrates’ Court of Victoria are putting a new civil fee structure in place, which will commence on 1 April 2024. There will be an outage of the CMS Portal from 6:00pm Thursday, 28 March, to 12:30am on Friday, 29 March 2024, to implement this change. CMS Portal users should not file a fee document until 1 April 2024 to avoid an incorrect fee being applied. For further information on this fee change, please click here after 1 April 2024.

Victoria Legal Aid’s pilot Equity and Diversity List – now available

Victoria Legal Aid’s pilot Equity and Diversity List, has been launched this week to support equitable briefing.

Barristers and advocates who self-identify with one or more diversity traits are encouraged to opt-in to the list by completing VLA’s web form.

The list is supported by the Chief Justice of Victoria, the Honourable Anne Ferguson, who says: ‘We want a legal profession that reflects the diversity of the community it serves. A profession where equal opportunity flourishes and where people can thrive.’

Read more about how the list will assist lawyers to find and brief diverse counsel for legally aided matters.

The Digital Library: Legal Resources for Victorian Lawyers

The Law Library Victoria presents regular online sessions on legal research and resources.

We record most sessions, such as The Digital Library: Legal Resources for Victorian Lawyers, for you to view in your own time.

You can browse through our past events or register for upcoming events here.

Profession CPD & Events
IBA Annual Conference

The IBA's forthcoming Annual Conference is taking place in Mexico City from 15-20 September 2024 at the Centro Citibanamex.

This conference offers a unique opportunity to engage in a diverse array of legal sessions, extensive networking prospects, and insights from some of the globe's top legal professionals.

Click here to find out more.

Careers & Opportunities
Senior Crown Prosecutor and Crown Prosecutor Role

Applications are sought from qualified persons for appointment as Senior Crown Prosecutor and Crown Prosecutor under the Public Prosecutions Act 1994. This is an exciting opportunity for suitably qualified and experienced Australian legal practitioners to undertake and support criminal prosecutions on behalf of the Victorian community.

Senior Crown Prosecutors are appointed for a minimum term of ten years with remuneration and conditions in accordance with the Public Prosecutions Act 1994. Senior Crown Prosecutors are generally senior barristers either of Senior Counsel or close to becoming Senior Counsel. Successful applicants are entitled to a motor vehicle.  Section 35 of the Public Prosecutions Act 1994 sets out additional entitlements. 

Crown Prosecutors are appointed for a fixed term of three years that may be renewed.

The successful appointee(s) will have access to flexible working conditions, and Crown Prosecutors may be appointed on a part-time basis.

Crown Prosecutors conduct proceedings and act as independent Counsel on behalf of the DPP in the most significant trials and appeals in the Superior Courts.  Crown Prosecutors also advise, provide instructions, and assist private Counsel briefed to prosecute.

The Senior Crown Prosecutor and Crown Prosecutor sign indictments and advise the DPP on significant matters referred for advice.

The key skills and knowledge required for these roles is contained in the online position description and must be addressed in the application. Persons considering applying for this position should note that commensurate positions may be filled within 12 months of the completion of the process without any further advertisement.

To submit your expression of interest, please click here. You will need to submit a resume and cover letter.

For more information, please contact

Applications close: 11:59pm on Tuesday, 9 April 2024

National Sports Tribunal Member Vacancies

The National Sports Tribunal (NST) is seeking applications from suitably qualified candidates to fill a small number of positions on the Panel of Tribunal Members. We are seeking experienced legal professionals and sports subject matter experts, including medical practitioners, with specific skills and experience.

The NST provides independent, effective and efficient dispute resolution services to sporting bodies, athletes and support personnel in Australia. Tribunal Members play a central role in the provision of these services, forming a diverse panel of independent arbitrators, mediators, legal and subject matter experts to be called upon on a case‑by‑case basis.

Applications will be assessed by an independent selection advisory committee for consideration by the Australian Government. Successful candidates will be appointed by the Minister for Sport for up to five years.

Women and practitioners from First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are particularly encouraged to apply.

Further information, including how to apply, can be found at: National Sports Tribunal Member Vacancies.

Applications close at 11:00pm AEDT on Friday, 5 April 2024.

In Brief submissions

If you would like to contribute relevant news, events, and updates for barristers and the legal profession to In Brief, please send an email with your content to or complete this submission form.

Deadline for the next issue:5pm, 4th April 2024