The new remote reality
We speak a lot about the collegiality of the Victorian Bar – working together, in normal times closely, in chambers means that experiences can be readily shared, knowledge and advice easily sought, and work opportunities actively pursued. The COVID pandemic has put paid to physical collegiality – but most of the networks and programs at the Bar continue to operate. Indeed, since 1 April, VicBar’s education and events team have organised 47 separate CPDs and events, which 3,445 participants have attended. These have included regular substantive law CPDs, together with technology training, online advocacy workshops and our series of webinars where legal leaders join us In Conversation at the VicBar. And there is a lot more happening.
Congratulations to the junior barristers accepted into the VLA Trial Counsel Development Program
The Trial Counsel Development Program, a joint initiative of the Victoria Legal Aid and the Victoria Bar since 2011, has announced its 2020/21 cohort of junior barristers. Congratulations to Rose Cameron, Julie Buxton, Chris Edwards, Katarina Ljubicic, Jessica Willard, Hugo Moodie, Carly Lloyd, Emma Strugnell, William Blake, Felicity Fox and Ashleigh Harrold.
The program identifies junior counsel who are on the cusp of beginning criminal trial careers, supports them with training and development, and pairs them with experienced leaders in two initial trials. We’re grateful for VLA’s commitment to the development of junior practitioners, so that future generations of VLA clients have a wide selection of counsel to run efficient and effective criminal trials. It’s one of those formal programs that help entrench the networks that support the Bar’s collegiality, and I thank the senior counsel who participate in the program and share their experience and knowledge with the next generation of barristers. More information about the program can be found on the VLA Chambers website here.
Not so slack
In the current circumstances, work opportunities for many new barristers have been few and far between. To address this, the New Barristers’ Committee has introduced a new platform for senior barristers to advertise work opportunities to their new colleagues. The New Barristers’ Slack channel is a virtual bulletin board and we hope that it’s embraced by members as a way to efficiently and effectively locate the right new barrister to assist with a case. More information is in the notice section below, and I’d like to thank John Leung and the New Barristers’ Committee for developing this innovative resource.
Mask up and stay safe
With this week’s COVID-19 numbers looking quite grim and testing becoming more prevalent, it is remarkable how quickly our perceptions change – two weeks’ ago sporting a face mask was still rare and wearers attracted odd looks – but now those without one stick out like a sore thumb. Equally, passing a piece of paper, picking up a book, or touching anything that someone else has touched now seems somewhat irresponsible.
Even though it seems like a hard slog, the simple actions, like staying home, washing your hands, wearing face coverings, minimising the time you spend in enclosed spaces with non-family members, and adhering to public health measures are the essential steps we each need to take to keep everyone safe. None of these actions may seem significant or noteworthy, but the sum of these hold the virus at bay.
We know that challenges persist in the Courts, and we have had a letter from Her Honour Judge Lisa Hannan, Chief Magistrate, responding to concerns that we raised on behalf of members about the difficulty of adhering to safety measures in Court. The Chief Magistrate is in the process of finalising a new Practice Direction which will mandate that certain civil hearings proceed via the Online Magistrates’ Court. VicBar will share this direction with members when it is published. The Court is also working on a project for an e-portal for lodging documents.
Finally, if you’re looking for a way to stave off cabin fever during the weekend, then check out this article in Timeout which suggests fifteen humorous ways to recreate Melbourne’s iconic outdoor experiences, from the National Gallery to Hardware Lane, in your own home… or standing in the cold outside.