It was a fine week for welcomes and farewells. Transcripts are available of my speeches on behalf of the Bar for the welcome of Justice Melinda Richards and the farewell to Justice Peter Vickery, and of Paul Holdenson QC’s outstanding speech at the farewell to Justice Mark Weinberg AO. All speeches are also able to be video-streamed from the Supreme Court website. If you weren’t there, don’t miss out on viewing Paul Holdenson’s remarkable tribute to Justice Weinberg, or Justice Weinberg’s response.
Congratulations to Mandy Fox QC on her appointment as a Judge of the County Court of Victoria. The profession will extend a Welcome in the County Court on Thursday 17 May at 9.15am.
Finally, we welcomed our 45 newest members last night, when the March 2018 readers signed the Bar Roll in the Supreme Court Library, in the presence of family, friends, mentors and members of Bar Council. The signing ceremony is always a joyous occasion, marking the end of the readers’ course and the start of the next phase in our readers’ careers. The traditional dinner followed for readers, mentors and teachers in the Essoign Club, with an hilarious speech by the Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court and Deputy Chief Justice of the Family Court, the Hon Justice Alstergren. I hope there were not too many sore heads this morning, particularly for those who may have had a brief on their first day as members of Counsel. My speech may be read here.
On Monday we held an important CPD event, with a panel comprising President Maxwell, Justice Quigley, Victorian Bar Senior Vice-President Wendy Harris QC, Jeremy Ruskin QC, Jacinta Forbes QC and Sally Flynn QC. The panel provided information about the National Model Gender Equitable Briefing Policy. As I have said many times in this message and elsewhere, equitable briefing is about recognising the full array of talent available at the Victorian Bar, in our case, by ensuring that our briefing recommendations to clients and solicitors reflect the full diversity of our membership. The video of the CPD will be published to our website in due course and I recommend it to all members who were unable to attend the event.
Equitable briefing extends, of course, not just to gender, but to other measures of diversity, such as ethnicity, belief, LGBTI status, disability and gender identity.
It is a source of pride that more members of the Victorian Bar have adopted the gender equitable briefing policy than barristers in the rest of Australian combined, by a considerable margin: a tangible expression of our national leadership on this important initiative (and a matter I never forget to mention when speaking to my interstate counterparts). I encourage all members who have not done so already to adopt the Policy by completing the form at the LCA website.
I will chair a panel discussion next Wednesday evening on the Bar’s new policies on discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying. The new policies are a powerful statement of the values of the Victorian Bar, and establish new reporting and grievance mechanisms. The occasion will also be an opportunity to report to members on the work we have done to date, and the more detailed work we will be undertaking in the very near future, to measure the prevalence of these behaviours and the contexts in which they occur. I look forward to seeing members next Wednesday at 5.15pm in the Neil McPhee room, level 1, Owen Dixon Chambers East.
Victorian Bar CEO Sarah Fregon presented a powerful case for the Bar as a career for a Law Week profile in The Age. Meanwhile, I answered a series of impertinent questions on The Justinian’s very uncomfortable couch in order to promote the State of the Bar report.
There were also meetings during the week about health and wellbeing in the profession and, on Wednesday night, Law Week was launched in the Waldron Hall of the County Court. Look out for a range of Law Week events over coming days, including the Step up to the Bar event next Tuesday for aspiring future barristers, and a mock Bail Application at the County Court on Saturday 19 May organised by the Student Engagement Committee. More information is available here.
Congratulations to William Lye OAM who has been appointed to the Foreign Arbitrators panel of the Shanghai International Arbitration Center. William is the only member of the Victorian Bar on the panel, and one of only 10 Australians selected.
Congratulations, too, to past-President Jennifer Batrouney QC on her election as the advocate member of the Victorian Legal Services Board. Thanks, too, to all members who voted, and to the unsuccessful candidates for their willingness to serve the Bar and the broader profession.