Obituary - Michael Kevin Connolly



It is with deep regret that the Bar Council informs members of the death yesterday, Tuesday 5 June 2018, of Michael Kevin Connolly, retired Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Michael was 73 years old (born 25 January 1945).

Michael was educated at Xavier College, where he played football and was the stroke of the Second VIII; and at Monash University, graduating Bachelor of Jurisprudence and Bachelor of Laws. He continued, for a time, to play football with the Old Xaverians.

He served Articles with the late Des Doyle in the Melbourne Office of Doyle & Kerr (now Pearce Webster Dugdales incorporating Tolhurst Druce & Emmerson).

Michael was admitted to practice in April 1971. He practised as a Solicitor with Stewart & Sons in Echuca; with Lovell Langslow & Son in Castlemaine; then for 11 years with H S W Lawson & Co in Castlemaine – where he was the Litigation Partner. Michael returned to Melbourne in 1983 to Ridgeway Clements as a specialist Family Law Solicitor.

He came to the Bar in September 1984 and read with Bruce Walmsley (now QC). With his substantial experience in litigation, he quickly established a practice at the Bar in Crime, Commercial Law and Family Law. He immediately joined the Family Law Bar Association and came to specialise in Family and De Facto Relationships Law, including Trusts, Property Law and Testators’ Family Maintenance, both at Trial and on Appeal; and on Circuit in Mildura and Bendigo. He was a member of a number of Bar Working Groups, in particular, responding to the Australian Law Reform Commission Inquiry into the Federal Civil Justice System and, prophetically, on the proposal to establish a Federal Magistracy. He was the Bar nominee on the Family Court Chief Justice’s Future Directions Committee.

In May 2001, Michael was appointed a Federal Magistrate – the fifth Federal Magistrate in Melbourne (including the Chief Federal Magistrate) and the last of the 16 initial appointments to what was then the Federal Magistrates Service – since April 2013, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

His Honour served with distinction for nearly 14 years to statutory retirement in January 2015, sitting in the areas of Family Law, De Facto disputes, Bankruptcy, Trade Practices, Migration, Administrative Law, Admiralty, Copyright and Human Rights.

He completed the Bar Lawyers Mediation Certificate and became a Nationally Accredited Mediator, returning to practise at the Bar in February 2015 – in Family Law and Commercial Mediations in Victoria and in Queensland.

A Funeral Mass will be offered at St Ignatius Church, 326 Church Street, Richmond, this Friday 8 June 2018 at 10:30 am. On Thursday 7 June 2018 at 11 am (local time), a moment of silence will be observed in the Federal Circuit Court throughout Australia in recognition of Michael’s contribution and his passing.

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