Monday, 1 February 2016

Opening of the 2016 legal year

Australian of the Year David Morrison AO today addressed the legal profession at a ceremony to open the 2016 legal year.

The Law Society’s commencement ceremony is a tradition attended by the Attorney General, judges, magistrates and members of the legal community. Lawyers reaffirm the ethical and social responsibilities of their profession and look forward to the coming year.

In his address David Morrison AO spoke of the need to ensure the legal profession is reflective of contemporary society.

“I do applaud the efforts made (by the legal profession) to increase the number of women, and women and men from different cultural heritage to the one I possess,” said Mr Morrison. This is evident in every state and territory jurisdiction but my experience points to the need to continually monitor this and leadership from the highest levels of the profession is an absolute requirement if progress is to be maintained.

“It is a fine balance, … given the central role (lawyers) play in our society, to find the right pace of progress on matters of diversity while moving judiciously in its interpretation of current laws.  Without it, (the profession is) not as representative of our communities, for which it provides continual judgement, as it needs to be. 

“Without progressive workforce practices, law firms are challenged to grow those men and women who will be the judges and magistrates of the future.

“That we can lay claim to being a rich, diverse and multi-cultural society where the rule of law underpins the complex interaction of people, institutions and corporations is in no small way a testament to (the legal profession’s) skill, compassion and pragmatism.”