Indigenous barristers and solicitors, law students and their mentors were treated to an exclusive tour of Government House this week, including the State Apartments and the artworks. There was special emphasis on the contemporary use of the House and the role of the Governor.
The tour was the initiative of Tony Howard QC, who is of course a member and great friend of the Victorian Bar. My thanks go to Tony for conceiving of and facilitating the event and for the insightful tour he conducted.
Chair of the Bar’s Indigenous Justice Committee, Anne Sheehan says of the photo below:
“When I see the [photo] I have hope for the future. These are all small things, the hope is that over time more Indigenous law students and lawyers will be able to see a career for themselves as barristers.”
The tour complemented a number of initiatives of the Bar that are aimed at supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples considering a career in the law, and preferably at the Victorian Bar. Information about the Bar’s policies and initiatives can be found here.
Applications for members wishing to be considered for appointment as Senior Counsel in and for the State of Victorian in 2018 close next Thursday, 5 July 2018 at 5pm sharp. Details of the process for the appointment of Senior Counsel in 2018 can be found here. The Chief Justice has published an important message for intending applicants, which can be found here. The application form can be found here.
My own summary of the changes to the process is available in the In Brief archives.
If you are planning to apply, please do not leave it until the last minute. Late applications cannot be accepted.
The Bar’s new policies against sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination commence next week, together with new processes for lodging reports and complaints.
Whether or not you have experienced inappropriate behaviour, I urge you to familiarise yourself with the new policies and procedures and bookmark the page, because they also provide important new tools for those who find themselves in the position of not wanting to endorse inappropriate behaviour or discrimination they have witnessed by remaining silent.
Last week, the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s report, Access to Justice—Litigation Funding and Group Proceedings, was tabled in Parliament. The report makes a number of recommendations, including that lawyers should be permitted to charge contingency fees in limited circumstances (not including personal injury, criminal or family law matters), with court approval and supervision, including as to the determination of the rate. I congratulate the Chair of the VLRC, the Hon Philip Cummins AM, and his team on the completion of this mammoth project and commend the report to members.
The latest edition of our in-house journal, the Victorian Bar News, should have hit members’ in-trays this week.
As always, it is a great read, featuring—among much more—interviews with President Chris Maxwell, new DPP Kerri Judd QC and yours truly; a look back at last year’s marriage equality survey by Kathleen Foley; a piece on authorised law reporting in the 21st century by Justice Cameron Macaulay; and an hilarious piece on the acquisition of letters before and after one’s name by Dr Bryan Keon-Cohen AM QC, PhD (Mon), LLM, LLB, BA (Melb) Dip Ed (Mon).
Congratulations to the VBN editors and Committee for producing another very high quality publication showcasing so much of what goes on in and around the Victorian Bar.
The Victorian Police Minister has requested that the Victorian Bar nominate members to the Firearms Appeals Committee. There are more details and a position description in the Notices section below.
It’s your last chance to pick up an Early Bird ticket to the VicBar / CommBar International Commercial Law Conference. I am delighted to announce the keynote speakers will be the Hon Justice John Middleton of the Federal Court of Australia, the Hon Justice Jeremy Poon of the Court of Appeal of the High Court of Hong Kong, and the Hon Justice William Alstergren, Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Deputy Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia.
Congratulations this week to Daniel Crennan QC, who is set to take on a new role as a Deputy Chairperson of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission with special responsibility for enforcement, commencing on 16 July this year. Daniel has made an extraordinary contribution to the Bar and BCL over many years.
Congratulations, too, to Mia Styliannou on her appointment as a Magistrate. Ms Stylianou was admitted to practice in 1993 and has been at the Victorian Bar for more than 10 years, before which she was an Associate Public Defender at Victoria Legal Aid.
Paul Holdenson QC represented the Bar at the welcome for Magistrate Tara Hartnett yesterday. A copy of Paul’s speech can be read here.
Thanks to all members who have completed the ‘Wellbeing at the Victorian Bar’ survey. We are still 110 short of our target of 1,000. The survey is open until 6pm on Monday 2 July. If you haven’t participated yet, please try and find 10 minutes before Monday evening to contribute to this valuable project. The link is here. We will report the findings and recommendations later in the year.
As the period for completing the wellbeing survey draws to a close, I am reminded of how important it is for all of us to take time off to decompress from the unique pressures of our work as barristers and reconnect with family and friends.
I know that many members will be taking a break in the next few weeks to mark the middle of the year. I am in that category myself and am looking forward to drawing breath for a moment or two (or three or four).
While I am on leave, the major focus of my weekly message in In Brief will be some of the signature priorities of the Bar Council in the months ahead.
Best wishes to all members who are taking a break. For those of you who are working through, please hold the fort in my absence.