News & Events

Latest News & Events

In Brief

The collective noun for barristers?

A committee of barristers? A brace of barristers? A thought of barristers?

These were just some of the answers provided to that curly question at the trivia night the Bar held with the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office this week. With COVID-19 preventing a repeat of last year’s speed networking event, the trivia night proved to be an excellent stand-in. Participants spent most of the hour in small team break-out rooms – so it was a great opportunity for the barristers and government solicitors to get to know each other, with any awkward silences obviated by the need to answer a couple of dozen thorny questions. Thanks to Chris McDermott, Barrister, for his entertaining compering, and James Kioussis and Poorva Sabnis from the VicBar team for compiling the questions, moving participants around the rooms and Zoom driving. Congratulations to team Zoomageddon who won the night.

In Brief

Taking inspiration from our clients

During these past few months, we have all bunkered down in constrained personal and professional existences that have provided us more limited visibility than usual on what is happening in the legal marketplace. It was very gratifying, therefore, to have the opportunity to be part of the judging panel for the 2020 Association of Corporate Counsel Australia Corporate Lawyer Awards – to be able to look over the parapet and observe some of the trends in "client land".

In Brief

Patience and persistence are crucial to the Bar’s success

One of the most infamous miscarriages of justice in Australia occurred in 1982, when Lindy Chamberlain was wrongly convicted of the murder of her baby, Azaria, and her husband, Michael, was wrongly convicted of being an accessory after the fact. The Chamberlains’ personal and legal ordeal was epic – through the original trial, appeals to the Federal and High Courts, four coronial inquests and the Morling Royal Commission, which finally exonerated the Chamberlains. Their convictions were quashed in 1988. The final inquest, in 2012, found that Azaria had died as the result of being attacked and taken by a dingo.  

In Brief

Supporting current and future members of the Bar

Some phenomena are spoken of as “great equalisers” because their impact transcends wealth, age, race, gender and occupation. Early in the pandemic, some touted the coronavirus as a great equaliser, due to its indiscriminately infectious nature. But we know the health impact of the pandemic has not been “shared” equally. It has also yielded some very different economic outcomes across society.

In Brief

New beginnings herald a culture shift at the Bar

Last week, we welcomed 35 Readers to the Victorian Bar’s Readers’ Course. Our education team and the Bar Readers’ Course Committee worked hard to produce a course that is the first in Australia to be delivered entirely online and offered during COVID. We’re particularly pleased to have been able to extend our Course to two Readers who will eventually sign the South Australian Bar Roll.

In Brief

Our role as leaders

There are many examples, too many to list in this message, of members and former members of the Bar stepping up to leadership positions in our community – in the judiciary, in not-for-profit and charitable organisations, in politics, in business, in the media. The Bar is rightfully proud of the contribution that they have made, and are continuing to make, to maintaining the robust institutions that underpin our society and democracy.

In Brief

Essential work behind the scenes

One point five meters. Lockdowns. Restrictions. Social distancing. Curfews. These five concepts have dominated our lives since March this year, turning our working and private lives upside down. These dramatic changes to our way of life, while uncomfortable, have increased our awareness of the people who have both physically and virtually enabled us to be kept fed and working. I, for one, have even greater respect for teachers and childcare workers, and as I listen to my daughter’s zoom classes, I’m amazed at the incredible skill they employ each day when they teach. We also have a new respect for ‘front line’ workers – the shelf stackers, cleaners, delivery drivers, supermarket workers, hospital workers – and the court personnel and IT advisors who are arranging and helping us access the virtual meetings on which we now depend.

In Brief

When the ‘laptop lifestyle’ becomes compulsory

I have found this message one of the hardest to compose in my time as President.  There is little I can say to lessen the impact of the latest blow of Stage 4 restrictions on members of our college.  I have been inundated with messages from members who are struggling with the implications of this latest public health response.

In Brief

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.  

In Brief

Surviving Stage 3

As we continue to endure months and months of pandemic-related restrictions, we can all be forgiven if our democratic sensibilities are somewhat rattled by the constant directives relating to what we can and cannot do. Do wear a mask, don’t leave home unless absolutely necessary, do stay 1.5 metres apart, don’t touch your face…and on and on it goes. As frustrating, and necessary, as these restrictions are, there is hopefully some light at the end of the tunnel with trials of a COVID-19 vaccine at Oxford University showing some promise. Recent media reports indicate the best-case scenario is that this vaccine is the magic bullet we are waiting for and we could begin an immunisation program in early 2021. The worst case is that a new normal pervades our lives for the foreseeable future as we await another viable vaccine or a slowing spread of COVID-19. Either way, this lockdown definitely cramps our style, crimps our plans and checks our finances.