Obituary - Francine Valerie McNiff



It is with deep regret that the Bar Council informs members of the death last Thursday 2 April of Francine Valerie McNiff. Francine was 67 (born 24 March 1948).

Her Secondary education was at Star of the Sea College. She graduated B Juris, LL B from Monash University; then did graduate work at the University of Edinburgh (Diploma in Criminology). She returned to teach in the Law School at Monash, from which she then graduated LL M by major thesis. She taught at Monash for some 10 years and was Sub-Dean Graduate Studies.

Francine was admitted to practice in 1980 and was a Consultant with Martin Bartfeld & Associates, Solicitors, while still teaching at Monash. She was then a Principal Legal Officer and sometime Acting Director of the Policy & Research Division of the Victorian Law Department. On 30 August 1983 she was appointed a Children’s Court Magistrate – the first woman Judicial Officer in Victoria.

Francine came to the Bar in November 1987 and read with Joseph Gullaci. She practised for some 23 years, and was a member of the Bar Council in Susan Crennan’s year as Chairman. For the last many years, iIlness prevented active practice – in 2010 she allowed her practising certificate to lapse, and in 2014 she transferred to the List of Retired Counsel.

Francine McNiff was a major benefactor of the University of Melbourne, funding Chairs in Human Rights (Law School) and in Criminology (Arts) and a Scholarship Fund for doctoral researchers in medical jurisprudence.

The burial is private. It is expected that there will be a gathering – details are yet to be advised.
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