Meet our thirty-two new barristers
It’s always a proud moment for family, colleagues and friends when a new barrister signs the Bar Roll and becomes part of our professional college.
Today, we welcomed thirty-two new barristers to the Bar: Simon Thomas, Jayr Teng, Tessa Meyrick, Heather Anderson, Fiona Martin, Dara Isaacson, Anna Martin, Rhiannon Malone, Todd Allen, Rose Singleton, Gemma Cafarella, Melania Albarella, Julian Murphy, Shahed Sharify, Joshua Lessing, Paul Jeffreys, Amel Masinovic, Bridie Kelly, Katie Powell, Patrick Coleridge, Shannon Jenkins, Angus Macaskill, Merys Williams, Alexander Marcou, Benjamin Bromberg, Rebecca McCarthy, Nicholas Kotzman, Tanya Kamil, Shannon Finegan, Alexander Di Stefano, Harry Hill-Smith and Bradley Hardisty.
While completing the Bar Readers’ Course is an event to be celebrated on every occasion, I would particularly like to call out this cohort of Readers, for the circumstances in which they decided to come to the Bar are quite unique – in the middle of a pandemic, when the courts are disrupted, and it is uncertain when they will be able to meet new colleagues in Chambers or, indeed, enjoy the benefits of sharing Chambers with them.
The entire Readers’ Course was, of course, delivered online, and the Readers completed more than 140 workshops, webinars and moots, despite the distractions that come with blending home and work life. We were also very pleased to have been able to extend the Course to two individuals, Helen Luu and Mardi Conduit, who will be joining the South Australian Bar. Another Reader, Chris O’Donnell, who completed the Course virtually from his home in Moscow, will be signing the Bar Roll when he returns to Melbourne.
I encourage members to reach out to our new barristers to help them as they navigate their journey at our Bar. I would especially encourage you to keep them in mind for junior briefs or devilling; you can advertise relevant work opportunities via the New Barristers’ Slack Channel, a virtual bulletin board accessible to new barristers. More information about the Channel is in a notice below.
Contributing to the success of the Victorian Bar
Welcoming new members to the Bar is also a time that gives Senior Counsel pause for reflection, as we remember the first days of our careers at the Bar – the hope, ambition, and trepidation we felt as we first rose to our feet to address a court in our role of counsel.
As new barristers, we set about the challenging task of building our practices, and of finding our niche in, and ways to contribute to the success of, the Bar. There is an enormous amount of work that is undertaken, all voluntarily, by members of the Bar to keep the Bar operating and I’d like to acknowledge the hundreds of members without whom the Bar could not function: working in committees and associations; undertaking pro bono work; spearheading initiatives that enhance and diversify the Bar’s offerings; contributing to vital legal training, events and publications; and in strengthening the Bar’s culture, social fabric and resilience. I know that our volunteer resources are stretched thin, and that the demands of the Bar eat into valuable professional and personal time. We may not always agree, but the contribution of members with a diversity of experience and views is what makes our college strong, and can help to ensure that it is relevant and competitive in an ever-changing legal landscape.
Good luck to those sitting the Bar Exam this Sunday
The attractiveness of the Bar as a career path is underscored by the record number of enrolments to the Victorian Bar Exam this Sunday. The exam will be remotely invigilated using specialised software, which enables it to proceed despite restrictions, and provides a path to entering the Bar for more than 230 aspiring barristers. This is the first time the exam has been delivered in this way and I would like to thank Nina Massara and Aylah Lohman from the VicBar education team for their work in shifting the exam to an online format, and for their work with the Readers’ Course Committee in delivering the September Readers’ Course.
Finding solutions in a COVID-19 world
We are all heartened by the announcement yesterday that jury trials will be resuming next month. This is very welcome news, and we hope it will be the first in many steps toward recovery. If you missed the communication yesterday, the announcement is on the Supreme Court website here.
With all the will and resources in the world, we know that there will continue to be a backlog of cases into the future, which is why finding innovative solutions to enable the resolution of cases in other ways is so important. This week, Tony Elder, Chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, was “In Conversation” with His Honour Judge Woodward, Her Honour Judge Tran and Judicial Registrar Adrian Muller about the new Victorian Bar County Court Mediator Referral Protocol, with questions moderated by Glen Pauline. The Protocol provides for the County Court Commercial Division to refer appropriate matters to Nationally Accredited Mediators at the Bar for mediation. This is a significant Protocol that will assist the Court in managing its caseload and help parties to resolve disputes more quickly and efficiently, as well as providing work for nationally accredited mediators and for barristers appearing in those mediations. It is the product of a huge amount of work by Tony and members of the ADR Committee, and significant collaboration from the Court. A further invitation to join the Mediator Panels will be circulated to nationally accredited mediators early next week. More information about the Protocol is here, and a recording of the webinar is available here.
My best wishes to readers of In Brief for the long weekend.