Congratulations go to 18 of our number who, on Wednesday, were appointed as Senior Counsel in and for the State of Victoria by the Chief Justice, the Hon Anne Ferguson. They are, in order of seniority:
On behalf of the Bar, I congratulate our newest silks. The silks will take their bows in the Supreme, Federal and Family Courts on 26 November, and in the High Court next February.
I also thank the Chief Justice for the enormous amount of work that she and her staff undertake each year in collating and reviewing applications for silk, conducting consultations and interviews with candidates, and ultimately making appointments. Because of the rigour involved in the process for appointment of silk, the community can have complete confidence that those appointed are barristers of the highest integrity, skill and learning.
Nominations for Bar Council election close on Monday
Nominations for election to the next Bar Council close at 5pm sharp on Monday 28 October. Late nominations cannot be accepted.
Voting will open at 9am on Wednesday 30 October. Instructions for voting will be provided to members that morning. A ‘hot desk’ will be available in the Bar office for those members who may need assistance accessing the website in order to cast their vote.
Simon Marks QC
Continuing my series honouring the support and contribution of the current Bar Council Executive, this week I want to take a moment to recognise the work of the Bar’s Junior Vice-President, Simon Marks QC.
Simon was elected to Bar Council in November 2016 and started his term as Junior Vice-President in November 2017.
Simon has been involved in many of the working groups of the Bar Council in the past two years, notably as chair of the governance reform working group in 2018, where he led the debate about proposed amendments to the Bar’s Constitution. Simon was also a member of the Counsel Committee in 2018 and sits on the Indictable Crime Certificate Committee.
Simon has been the Chair of the Readers’ Course committee and Executive since 2017—very important roles in the life of the Bar. Because of his expertise, he has become the Bar Council’s de facto education tsar. This year, Simon was responsible for managing the process that led to the appointment of a panel to conduct a review of the Readers’ Course entrance exam, and then for shepherding the results of that review through the deliberations of the Bar Council, resulting in the adoption of wide ranging reforms. He has also managed the process of consultation and debate about the very complex question of how to manage the growing list of successful exam candidates awaiting a place in our readers’ course. These are fraught issues in which we search for the optimal outcome, recognising that there are no perfect answers.
Most of my direct dealings with Simon come through our very regular interactions on the Bar Council Executive. Duties as a member of the Executive are onerous and time-consuming, and Simon has always acquitted them cheerfully and without complaint, which is more than could be said of yours truly. I always look to Simon for flashes of ironic humour to temper difficult or contentious debates and keep us focused on the interests of the Bar and its members. It has been a privilege to work with Simon to advance the interests of the Bar over the past two years.
Reconciliation Action Plan update
The Reconciliation Working Group (RWG) has an ongoing role monitoring the implementation of the Bar’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
The RWG report that in the second and third quarters of this year:
I thank all those involved in the implementation of the Bar’s Reconciliation Action Plan.
All members are invited to the Bar’s AGM on Monday at 4.30pm, followed by the AGM for the Barristers’ Benevolent Association at about 4.40pm. My thanks in advance go to Senior Vice-President Wendy Harris QC, who will chair the AGMs in my absence. Details and proxy forms here.
The Honourable Justice Lisa Nichols
Congratulations to Lisa Nichols QC on her appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. The profession will extend a welcome to Justice Nichols in the Banco Court of the Supreme Court on Thursday 14 November 2019 at 9.15am.
Readers’ signing ceremony and dinner
Last night, the Victorian Bar welcomed 46 new members, and honoured two overseas readers, as the September 2019 readers cohort celebrated the conclusion of the readers' course and the signing of the Bar Roll. After signing the Bar Roll in a ceremony in the Banco Court, the Bar hosted a cocktail party for our newest barristers and their families and friends, followed by a dinner in the Essoign Club with mentors and teachers from the readers’ course, among others, at which honoured guest Jeremy Ruskin QC told the readers some of the secrets we had been keeping from them until after they had signed the Roll (that last bit is not true—Jeremy’s speech was about ’squirm moments’, those excruciating moments we all experience from time to time when something goes wrong at the Bar table, his own example being losing an application to admit a practitioner to practice). You may not have seen very much of our newest members during the readers’ course, but please make them welcome as you see them around chambers in the coming days and weeks.
September 2019 Readers
Dr Matt Collins AM QC, Jeremy Ruskin QC, Katherine Lorenz and Simon Marks QC
A busy week
This week I participated in a panel discussion for the Victoria Law Foundation at the State Library on the making of suppression orders by Victorian courts (video available here).
Behind the scenes this week I had meetings with the Bar’s CEO, the Bar Executive, the Chair and CEO of Barristers’ Chambers Ltd, representatives of Victoria Legal Aid and with Chief Judge Kidd of the County Court. Much time was also spent liaising with our newest silks in relation to the various arrangements that are in place to facilitate the transition to their new roles.