Bar Office Restructure
Following a comprehensive review, there is to be a restructure of the Bar Office. The restructure is intended to enable the Bar Office to meet members’ requirements more effectively, improve internal governance, and strengthen delivery of the Bar’s strategic plan and objectives.
The review revealed a particular need for enhanced capability within the Bar Office in relation to information technology, program management, content development and writing, and legal support for the Bar’s compliance and policy functions. The restructure will enable steps to be taken to address those needs, and members can expect to see significant improvements in each of these areas in coming months.
One of the few constants in modern life is change, and the Victorian Bar is obviously not immune. Our Bar has roughly doubled in size in the past 20 years. I would hazard to say that the complexity of the Bar, and the challenges we face, have increased at a faster rate than our numbers. The days are long gone when the affairs of the Bar could be managed on a part-time basis by volunteer members.
As an association that exists to advance the interests of its members, the Bar Office must be staffed so as to maximise the value that can be extracted from every dollar of membership subscription fees that we each pay every year. This means that its structure must be regularly analysed and reviewed.
As a result of the restructure, two long-standing members of the Bar Office are leaving us.
After many years as part of the fabric of the Bar, Ross Nankivell is leaving us. Ross’ contribution to the Bar over that time is well known, most recently in the role of Manager Assisting the CEO. Among other matters, Ross has assisted successive Chairmen and Presidents of the Bar by providing speeches for all manner of occasions including judicial welcomes and farewells, drafting obituaries, preparing lift notices, responding to requests from outside bodies for information about the Bar, and championing the opening of the legal year. We will miss Ross’ wealth of knowledge of the Bar and its history.
Rachel Chrapot is also leaving us. As General Manager, Member Services and a former barrister, Rachel’s contribution has also been significant. She has been pivotal in improving the Readers’ Course, bringing her understanding of what it takes to be a barrister. Rachel’s enthusiasm and willingness to offer assistance to readers throughout each course was always a feature of her involvement and will be affectionately remembered. She also played a notable role in the management of the Bar entrance examination, and the operation of the Ethics and Indictable Crime Certificate Committees. She is loved by a generation of young barristers who attended “her” readers’ course.
We thank both Ross and Rachel for their contribution to our Bar and wish them well.
Let me take this opportunity to let you know who to contact in the Bar Office for enquiries:
Vale the Honourable Philip Cummins AM
Recently, the Bar lost one of our leaders, the Honourable Philip Cummins AM. Philip was 79. He was a gifted criminal jury advocate who maintained a civil practice. He became a Supreme Court Judge who worked in all divisions of the Court, including as the Senior Judge in the Trial Division, Principal Judge of the Criminal Division and an acting Judge of Appeal.
Philip’s service to the Bar included over a decade on Bar Council including as Chairman, service on 14 Committees, chairing half of those. Further service to the law included terms as Chair of the Victoria Law Foundation, Chair of the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children inquiry; Chair of the Victorian Law Reform Commission and President of the Commonwealth Association of Law Reform Agencies in London.
The Bar’s full obituary for “Fabulous Phil” can be read here.
Retirement of a legend—David Curtain QC
As this edition of In Brief hits in-boxes, a long lunch is underway at an undisclosed location (rumoured to be MoVida) to farewell another legend of the Victorian Bar, David Curtain QC, who has today officially retired from active practice.
David signed the Roll of Counsel in 1976. Among many selfless contributions to the Bar, he served on Bar Council as an ordinary member, as well as Treasurer, Vice-Chairman, and then Chairman for an 18 month period in 1998 and 1999. He will be remembered for, among other matters, his commitment to many Bar initiatives, including pioneering work in relation to gender equality at the Bar, something that he identified as an objective of his term as Chairman. On this International Women’s Day, while it is sobering to reflect on how glacial progress towards true equality has seemed, we can also celebrate the strides that have been made at the Victorian Bar in the past 20 years. In 1998, women represented about 15% of practising barristers at the Victorian Bar; they now represent 30% of practising barristers, and more than 40% of barristers of 15 years call and under.
On behalf of the entire Bar, all the best, David, for your retirement.
Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants
The Royal Commission’s public submission process is now open.
At the invitation of the Commissioner, the Honourable Margaret McMurdo AC, the Victorian Bar will provide a submission.
However, any member of the public may make a submission, including members of our Bar. The Commission’s Terms of Reference may be found here. Information about making a submission, including information about privacy issues and a link to a secure online submission portal can be found on the Royal Commission’s submissions page. Submissions concerning the number of and extent to which cases may have been affected by the conduct of Nicola Gobbo as a human source are due by Friday, 15 March 2019. Submissions relating to all other matters set out in the terms of reference are due by Friday, 12 April 2019.
ABA Conference: Convergence 2019– Program and Early Bird Tickets for Singapore in July
Early Bird tickets are available for the Australian Bar Association’s biennial international conference, Convergence 2019. The Conference Program has been released, together with an Accompanying Persons’ Program and a program of Family and Optional Activities.
Featured speakers include the Hon Chief Justice Susan Kiefel AC of the High Court of Australia, and the Hon Chief Justice Sudaresh Menon of the Supreme Court of Singapore.
There are special delegate airfares with Singapore Airlines, including for families, to Singapore and beyond, with the specials extending to post-conference destinations.
This will be the conference highlight of the year—a unique opportunity to meet up with colleagues from the other independent referral Bars of Australia, obtain your annual quota of CPD points at sessions presented by pre-eminent members of the judiciary and the profession, and get some sun in the middle of Melbourne’s winter.
ABA Committee membership—expressions of interest close Monday 11 March, 5pm
Speaking of the ABA—among its functions include providing advice, evaluating legislation, drafting submissions, reporting on current and anticipated developments which could affect the legal profession, and contributing articles on current issues, in relation to matters of national importance, such as Commonwealth law and policy and the regulation of the legal profession.
I encourage members of the Victorian Bar to contribute to the important work of the ABA by applying to serve (or remain) on the following ABA Committees:
Applications have closed for members of other Bars, but I have negotiated a short extension of time for members of the Victorian Bar, to ensure that we are fully and appropriately represented on all committees. Time is tight, though—expressions of interest close next Monday, 11 March, at 5pm.
To apply, please do not delay: complete the online form indicating the committees for which you wish to be considered (no more than two).
This is an excellent opportunity for members of the Victorian Bar to contribute to the development of national law and policy, as well as to build contacts with like-minded barristers from our companion Bars.
The ABA is the national voice of the independent referral Bars of Australia. The Victorian Bar is an active constituent member.
A busy week
Behind the scenes this week, among other things, I met with the Legal Services Commissioner together with the Bar Council Executive, representatives of the Bar Council’s Governance Working Group, my fellow trustee of the Barristers’ Benevolent Fund, and the Chair of the Ethics Committee; and continued the process of providing feedback to last year’s silk candidates.
Welcomes and appointments
The profession will extend welcomes at ceremonial sittings of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia as follows: