A memorable Bar Dinner
My inbox has been full all week of rave reviews about the annual Bar Dinner held last Friday, tempered by a couple of “constructive suggestions” for next year—the opposite of the usual response to any major Bar event.
The general consensus appears to be that members enjoyed the pared back formalities, which freed up more time to socialise, catch up with colleagues, make new friends and, in the case of a higher-than-usual-number, dance.
The undisputed highlight of the night was the keynote speech by our guest of honour, the Chief Justice, the Hon Anne Ferguson, who answered a series of questions submitted anonymously by members of the Bar. There were too many to recount fully here, but my favourites included:
Question: Have you thought about bringing back wigs, just for bad hair days?
Answer: I suspect that question was submitted by a bald man. Wigs don’t solve bad hair days, they cause them.
Question: Chief Justice Kiefel is a fly fisher. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has had a workout named after her. What’s the least Chief Justice-y thing about you?
Answer: I am the only Chief Justice ever to have had a hit on the iTunes chart [it’s true: if you haven’t done so yet, check out the superb Gertie’s Law podcast].
Other highlights of the night were the toast to the rule of law, by the Attorney-General, the Hon Jill Hennessy MP; the address by Senior Vice-President Wendy Harris QC, who introduced the Chief Justice and made a baffling joke about yours truly that no-one understood; and the Game of Thrones themed response to the Chief Justice’s speech by ABA President Jennifer Batrouney QC, who also proposed a toast to the independent Bars of Australia.
As always, the Bar office staff did a superb job in organising what was a memorable night. Special thanks go to Katherine Lorenz, Amanda Utt and Alannah Jones, among many others.
Applications for silk close on Friday 31 May, 5pm
A reminder that the deadline for applications for silk is earlier than usual this year, and is fast approaching.
Applicants who have questions about the process, or inquiries concerning completion of the application form, are welcome to contact me on a confidential basis at any time.
Members who missed the Bar’s information session for silk candidates may view it here.
Town Hall meeting on proposed reforms to the Constitution of the Victorian Bar – 30 May, 5pm
Two weeks ago I summarised the purpose of proposed reforms to the Bar’s Constitution, which will be put to a Special General Meeting at 5pm on 12 June 2019 in the Neil McPhee room.
A Town Hall style meeting will be held to discuss the proposed changes, and to enable questions to be answered, on 30 May 2019 at 5pm in the Neil McPhee room.
There are other opportunities for you to inform yourself about the proposed changes, including by discussing the proposed reforms with a member of Bar Council. A meeting for your floor or interest group can be arranged with members of Bar Council by contacting the Executive Assistant to the President and the Bar Council, Denise Bennett, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I urge members to get involved in the debate, to inform yourself about the changes and to attend the Special General Meeting on 12 June. If you are unable to attend, I urge you to appoint a proxy. An appointment of proxy form is available here.
The mystery of the lost robe bag … chapter 2
Several members have deduced that the embroidered initials “EDL” on the lost robe-bag that I mentioned in my message last week point to it having been once owned by the late Edward D Lloyd QC, aka “Woodsie”, who died in 1988.
Assistance is now sought as to who came to treasure the bag after Woodsie passed and was using it as recently as late last year, when it was found in a courtroom in the County Court. Please send any information to Angela Liantzakis, at Angela.M.Liantzakis@countycourt.vic.gov.au.
Bar nominee sought for appointment to the Board of the Victoria Law Foundation
The Bar is calling for expressions of interest for the position of Victorian Bar nominee to the Board of the Victoria Law Foundation. The position has become vacant due to the appointment of Judge Elizabeth Brimer to the County Court
The Bar’s protocol for nomination and appointment of members to external bodies can be found here. Your Expression of Interest should include a copy of your CV and identify any relevant areas of experience or expertise.
Please forward your expression of interest to Denise Bennett at email@example.com. The closing date for EOIs is Thursday 30 May 2019 at 5pm.
Bar nominee sought for the Law Council Equal Opportunity Committee
The Bar is also calling for expressions of interest for the position of Victorian Bar nominee to the Law Council of Australia’s Equal Opportunity Committee. The position has become vacant due to the appointment of Justice Jacinta Forbes to the Supreme Court. More details in the notice below.
Special RACV Club membership offer
The Victorian Bar has secured a special RACV Club membership offer for our members, with the joining fee waived before 30 June and significantly discounted thereafter, as well as a discount on the annual membership fee each year. Details in the notice below or on our member benefits page.
This is exciting news. Members of the RACV Club get access, at the City Club on Bourke Street, to a range of stylish dining venues, entertainment options and unique spaces including the billiards room and library. For an additional fee, members can obtain access to the fitness centre and pool. Members also benefit from access to the RACV Healesville Country Club in the Yarra Valley, as well as reciprocal rights to more than 160 clubs, located around the world.
This is a new offer to members of the Victorian Bar, and great value.
Other membership benefits
Members of the Victorian Bar are entitled to range of other discounts and benefits that are well worth a look.
The Victorian Bar has negotiated a number of exclusive offers, including gym memberships, cars, books and online subscriptions, wine, insurance and even discounted myki cards.
Even more benefits are available to all members of the Victorian Bar, via our membership of the Australian Bar Association, including discounts from major retailers and service providers.
If you haven’t familiarised yourself with these member benefits, you aren’t getting the maximum value from membership of your association.
Launch of the William Ah Ket Scholarship
On Wednesday evening, I attended the launch of the William Ah Ket scholarship for 2019. The scholarship honours a great Victorian barrister, William Ah Ket, who was the first barrister of Chinese background in Australia. William signed the Bar roll in 1904 and had a distinguished career at our Bar, despite facing impediments and discrimination because of his race. The scholarship of $6,000 (with two prizes of $1,000 to runners-up) is awarded each year to the applicant who produces the most outstanding research paper of 5,000 words or less on a topic dealing with equality, diversity and the legal profession or law, and is open to lawyers with no more than 5-years post-admission experience. More information is available here. The scholarship is an initiative of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association Inc and Maddocks.
Reconciliation week event – Wednesday 29 May, 5.15pm
National Reconciliation Week each year reminds us of two dates of significance to lawyers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. On 27 May 1967, over 90% of Australians voted Yes in the referendum to amend the power in s 51(xxvi) of the Constitution to enable the Parliament to make laws “for the people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws”. Almost exactly 25 years later, on 3 June 1992, the High Court recognised native title in the Mabo decision.
During Reconciliation Week, the Victorian Bar will host a Welcome to Country ceremony prior to a CPD jointly presented by the Indigenous Justice Committee and the Equality and Diversity Committee on legal issues affecting Indigenous Australians. All members of the Bar are welcome to attend the ceremony and CPD. I am delighted that a number of Indigenous law students and lawyers will join us for this event. More details in the notice below.
Caroline Kenny QC, Chartered Arbitrator
Congratulations to Caroline Kenny QC, who has recently been awarded Chartered Arbitrator status. She is the only woman in Australia to currently hold the rank.
Caroline is also the President of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Australia).