The ABA has secured the presence of former Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull, as Guest of Honour at the dinner to be held on Friday 16 November as part of its forthcoming national conference, rise2018, to be held in Sydney from 16–17 November. The former Prime Minister will not only give the after-dinner speech, but also subject himself to a Q&A session in a room full of advocates.
That prospect is enough, in my view, to warrant committing to the conference, but for those who want more, the conference program is fascinating and varied, including, among many other highlights:
The Victorian Bar is an active constituent member of the ABA, the voice of the independent referral bars of Australia, and the national conference is a rare opportunity to get together with our interstate colleagues.
More information is below, but if you have been procrastinating, now is the time to commit and register.
Participants prepare from a realistic brief, and present in real court settings before senior Australian judges. Performances are recorded and reviewed.
The intensive gives barristers a rare opportunity to experiment with different styles of advocacy, to see which is the most effective for them in different contexts, together with individual and small group coaching by Federal and Supreme Court judges, Australian and international senior practitioners and professional performance coaches accredited by the ABA.
The intensive has developed an international reputation for excellence, and is open to all members of counsel. It is highly recommended. Click here for more details including the registration form.
Each year, the ABA sponsors one barrister with indigenous heritage to participate in the intensive. To nominate, eligible members should send a brief outline of their work history to the Secretariat at email@example.com.
Voting for the 2018/2019 Bar Council Election opens at 9 am this coming Monday 29 October 2018.
As in recent years, voting will be conducted wholly online. The electronic voting portal will be accessible from the Member homepage of the Victorian Bar website via your member login and password. Voting closes at 5 pm on Wednesday 14 November 2018. A ‘hot desk’ is available in the Bar office to complete online voting, if required.
Congratulations to Wendy Harris QC, President of the Commercial Bar Association, and all those involved in organising the very successful annual cocktail party for the judiciary and the commercial bar on Wednesday evening. The evening was co-hosted by Chief Justices Ferguson and Allsop and held in the grand ground floor foyer of the Commonwealth Courts building. Chief Justice Ferguson, in her address, emphasised the importance of a collegiate and collaborative relationship between the bench and bar in discharging our shared responsibilities for the efficient administration of justice, and foreshadowed a multi-jurisdictional collaboration towards managing conflicting class action proceedings.
Last night, our ranks swelled in number, when the September 2018 readers signed the Roll of Counsel in a ceremonial occasion held in the Banco court. All 44 readers in the September course—22 women and 22 men—passed both the bar entrance exam and our intensive 9 week course with flying colours. Thanks to Chief Justice Ferguson, the Council of Supreme Court Judges and staff of the Court for making the Banco court available to us for what is always one of the highlights for me on the calendar.
Our newest members range in experience, from being admitted to practice in December 1998 through to August this year. More than half have honours degrees or higher, and more than 40% have served as judicial associates. They bring a wide range of experience to their new vocations, from the expected (long service as solicitors) to the unexpected (journalists, DJs, professional ballet dancers) to the outright weird (beekeepers and taxidermists). Following last night’s ceremony, there are now 2,077 practising counsel at the Victorian Bar. The last to sign the Bar Roll has Bar Roll number 5,092. By way of comparison, when I signed the Bar Roll in May 1999, I was number 3,312 and we had 1,067 practising members. It is an enormous credit to our institution that, despite that growth, we remain such a tight-knit college.
The signing ceremony was followed by the traditional dinner in the Essoign, with the after dinner speech given by Ross Gillies QC.
Please make our newest colleagues welcome as you see them around the traps.
As last week’s In Brief was sent to members, I was presenting the results of the Health & Wellbeing report at the Judicial College to a room of about 50 judges and magistrates, with the seminar streamed to judicial officers in all State jurisdictions.
This was the final formal event in an intense few days dealing with some difficult issues, which the Bar and the Courts have faced in a frank, open and constructive manner.
I have had a very large number of emails and other contact from members of the Bar congratulating us on our important work on health and wellbeing. I am grateful for your support.
Congratulations to Michele Williams QC on her appointment as Deputy Chair of the Post Sentence Authority for a period of five years commencing on 17 October 2018. I wish her every success in her new role.
Apart from the matters covered above, my week as President started with the Victorian Bar AGM on Monday, at which the tradition of pulling members from the Essoign into the meeting in order to achieve a quorum was upheld. On Tuesday I spoke on the refreshingly light topic of defamation at a Melbourne Law School alumni breakfast, then met with the Judicial Commissioner. On Thursday we had the last regular Bar Council meeting before the annual election. This morning I represented the Bar at the ceremonial welcome to the Honourable Justice Wheelahan in the Federal Court (we will link to the transcript next week). At lunchtime I have to sing for my supper by delivering another speech about defamation law, this time at the launch of The Australian’s latest Legal Review supplement. Look out for a comment piece by me in the media pages of Monday’s The Australian.