Yesterday, renowned photographer Bill Henson opened the "Changing Face of the Bar" exhibition in the Peter O’Callaghan QC Gallery on the ground floor of Owen Dixon Chambers. (Bill Henson’s own extraordinary photographic portrait of Kenneth Hayne AC QC is ordinarily on permanent display in the Gallery.)
Earlier this year, 700 of our current practising members were photographed by Garth Oriander wearing everything from surf life-saving gear and sporting lycra to formal robes, to celebrate the face of the Victorian Bar in 2018. In the exhibition, the modern photos are juxtaposed with historic caricatures and photographs of (mostly) solemn-faced, formally attired white men from the 1930s and 1980s.
It is not every day that more than 700 barristers agree to do something together. This exhibition is a graphic testament to our collegiality, diversity and humanity, uniting our most senior and revered members, Chairmen and Presidents past and present, and our newest advocates.
The exhibition will run until 7 December.
Could I single out for special thanks Peter Jopling AM QC and Stephen Jurica of the Art & Collections Committee and Amanda Utt, the Bar’s General Manager, Corporate Services, for their work in putting together this remarkable exhibition—the first "pop-up" in the history of the Peter O'Callaghan QC Gallery.
My speech from last night's opening can be read here.
Congratulations to Katherine Brazenor, who was awarded "Barrister of the Year" at the Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards in Sydney last week. The award recognises "outstanding performance by an individual practising at the bar" and is open to all barristers, including silks, who practised within Australia during FY17–18. As well as being a fine advocate (whom I have had the pleasure of leading), Kat has made a substantial contribution to the community of the Bar, including as Chair of the Student Engagement Committee, and on the Bar Council working group that conducted a root-and-branch governance review of the operations of the Victorian Bar.
On Tuesday evening, I was one of the keynote speakers at the launch of the Monash Cultural & Lingual Appreciation Network (M-CLAN) mentoring program. The network was inspired, in part, by our State of the Bar report earlier this year which highlighted, among other matters, the changing demography of the Victorian Bar.
The M-CLAN program, which matches mentees of diverse backgrounds with mentors who are practising barristers and solicitors, is run by a student group of Monash Law Ambassadors. In its first year, the network will match 60 mentors with 60 students ranging from their first to their final years.
In my speech at the launch of M-CLAN, I spoke of the first Victorian barrister of Asian descent, William Ah Ket, who signed the Bar roll in 1904, 19 years before the first woman signed the Bar roll, Joan Rosanove in 1923. William was a talented advocate who, among other matters, appeared in cases challenging the White Australia policy.
Coincidentally, ABC Radio National last week profiled William on The History Listen. The profile is fascinating, and available as a podcast, which I commend to members.
Other events for me this week included being the junior (and generally quiet) judge on a Full Court with the Hon Professor George Hampel AM QC and Judge Marks of the County Court at the grand final of the Melbourne Law School witness examination contest, and hosting a silks and juniors lunch.
Behind the scenes we continued interviews for the CEO position and I met with the Bar Council Executive, the LGBTI Working Group, the new Chair of the Criminal Law Bar Association, Daniel Gurvich QC, and the CEO of BCL, Paul Clark, to discuss current issues.
This morning the profession extended a farewell to Justice North at a ceremonial sitting of the Full Court of the Federal Court. At Justice North’s request, I introduced Herman Borenstein QC and Anthony Neal QC to speak on behalf of the Bar.
The profession also welcomed His Honour Judge Sexton as a Judge of the County Court this morning. As, infuriatingly, my attempts to be in two places at one time failed, I am grateful to Vice-President Simon Marks QC for speaking on behalf of the Bar.