President's Message


Leading the New South Wales Bar has been a great honour for me and the highlight of my career at the Bar. Now, as our professional lives return to something resembling normality, and after some 18 months in the role, the time is right for me to step aside and allow the leadership of the Bar Council to chart a new course. The Bar Council meeting of 12 May 2022 will be my last and the Council will elect and announce the leadership for its next phase.

In November 2020 I penned my first President’s Message for InBrief. Then, I said: ‘We are not quite out of the woods, yet 2021 is in many respects already looking more promising’. Predictions, as they say, are difficult, especially about the future. What eventuated was another 12 months of challenges and isolation during the lockdowns of mid-late 2021. Yet, against that backdrop, I am proud to say that the Bar Association, and more broadly our members, have made significant headway.

First, there was the Strategic Plan 2021-25, which promotes the standing of the Bar, supports barristers in the conduct of their profession and helps them to develop successful practices. It will also guide the Bar Association’s many worthwhile efforts from the countless well received submissions that our committees draft to our wider membership endeavours.

Secondly, as we dealt with the dislocation and disruption of the pandemic, we were confronted with further evidence of sexual harassment, which has long threatened the reputation of the Bar and discouraged some from making the decision to join the profession. I am proud to say that the Bar Council has continued to respond with real clarity of purpose.

We launched a video message, ‘No place for sexual harassment at the Bar’ [login required] about the need for significant change to the culture of our profession and the stigma around reporting sexual harassment. A sexual harassment officer has been appointed, anonymous reporting mechanisms are available through Spot and Elker, and Barristers Rule 123 now gives full effect to amendments recommended by the Australian Bar Association relating to rule 123 (Anti-discrimination and harassment) and the definition of workplace bullying in rule 125.

We have also developed up to date Best Practice Guidelines with a WHS focus and which will be launched in the coming weeks. I encourage all chambers to review them closely.

Finally, I am also proud of the work we have done in setting up BarBrief, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bar Association to promote and assist in direct briefing of our members by in-house and government lawyers. It is a practical facility currently undergoing its pilot phase and should ensure the exceptional talent and value of our Bar can be easily accessible for the full third of solicitors not practising in traditional firms.

I want to thank the leadership team in the Executive and the two Bar Councils I was honoured to lead. I am especially grateful to Gaby Bashir SC for her support and guidance and I know the Bar is in good hands. I particularly want to thank the staff of the Bar Association whose unstinting efforts have made so much of this possible.

I would also like to thank the heads of jurisdiction, the Attorney General, the Directors of Public Prosecutions and all the other justice stakeholders the Association has worked so closely with throughout the pandemic to address the issues facing the Bar and the broader administration of justice in NSW.

Lastly, as many of you know, I have always encouraged participation in the Association’s endeavours, especially standing for Bar Council and, given the wonderful experience I have had, I reiterate that now.

If you no longer wish to receive In Brief, please notify the Bar Association's