Earlier in the year, I asked members to demonstrate their commitment to equitable briefing by adopting the Law Council of Australia’s Equitable Briefing Policy. The policy, which has been endorsed by the Bar, aims to achieve a nationally consistent approach towards bringing about cultural and attitudinal change within the legal profession with respect to gender briefing practices.
In the months since, it has been extremely pleasing to see Victorian barristers signing up to the policy in high numbers. In fact, Victorian barristers account for nearly 60% of all practising counsel Australia-wide to have adopted the policy.
For members who have adopted the policy, I remind you to submit your annual report for the period 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018 to the Law Council of Australia. Reports are due by 30 September. Data from adoptees of the policy will be extremely valuable in understanding the progress that has been made, how much further work remains to be done, and the causes of continuing inequality.
I urge all members, of all levels of seniority, who are yet to adopt the policy to do so now. Adopting the policy allows members to demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that all members of the Bar are briefed, or recommended to be briefed, on no other basis than merit. The policy is available for adoption by individual barristers by completing the form available on the Law Council of Australia’s website. Once the policy has been adopted, the Bar has developed a simple worksheet to facilitate the collection and reporting of data required by the policy.
Defamation (talking about it, rather than engaging in it) is always a feature of my week, so I was delighted to be invited by James McComish to chair a CPD seminar on the subject last night, fabulously titled “Whores, Thieves and Rebels: A Beginner’s Guide to the Early History of the Law of defamation” (I see what you did there, James). It was advertised as examining issues including “the scrutiny of allegedly excessive awards of damages” (you’ll keep, James). The seminar was fascinating and entertaining. I learned a lot and got a CPD point to boot. If you missed the CPD, it should be available exclusively on our members’ site within two weeks.
If you were asked to define the term ‘Bar legend’, you’d be hard pressed to do better than point to the superb, newly commissioned portrait of Robert Richter QC and Philip Dunn QC, to be unveiled by the Honourable Michael Rozenes QC in the Peter O'Callaghan QC Gallery on Tuesday , 14 August 2018 at 5.15pm.
The portrait, by artist Martin Tighe, was commissioned by the Art and Collections Committee of the Victorian Bar. See you at the unveiling on Tuesday.
Behind the scenes, this week I joined other members of the Bar and the broader legal profession who have been appointed by the Chief Justice to undertake a preliminary evaluation of applications for silk. The Preliminary Evaluation Committee, chaired by The Honourable Stephen Charles AO QC, meets several times per week. The Committee’s recommendations are one of the resources the Chief Justice draws upon when assessing applicants and appointing new silks.
The Bar and the Law Institute of Victoria met yesterday morning to discuss current and emerging issues. I thank the Senior Vice-President, Wendy Harris QC, for chairing the meeting in my place.
Tonight I will attend the Queensland Bar Dinner in Brisbane ahead of a meeting of the board of the Australian Bar Association meetings on the weekend.
The profession will bid farewell to Justice Richard Tracey AM RFD in a ceremonial sitting of the Federal Court of Australia on 17 August 2018 at 9.30am, and to Justice Anthony North on Friday 7 September 2018.