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The Victorian Bar is the Bar association for the Australian State of Victoria. The current President of the Bar is Wendy Harris QC. The CEO is Katherine Lorenz. Its members are barristers registered to practice in Victoria. On 12 December 2019 there were 2212 counsel practising as members of the Victorian Bar. Those who have been admitted to practice by the Supreme Court of Victoria, are eligible to join the Victorian Bar after sitting an entrance exam and completing a Bar readers' course. The Victorian Bar is affiliated with the Australian Bar Association and is a member of the Law Council of Australia.
The first association of barristers in Victoria was formed in 1884, although the first barristers admitted to practice in Victoria were appointed in 1841. On 20 June 1900 an official Bar Council was established, and a Bar Roll was started. By 1902, all barristers practising in Melbourne had signed the Roll. To this day, new barristers sign the Roll when they are admitted to the Bar.
The Victorian Bar’s mission is to foster the independence, excellence, leadership and growth of its members individually and as a profession. The Victorian Bar supports its members and the community by delivering services to promote the better administration of justice and the rule of law, enhance the reputation, effectiveness and cohesion of the Bar and the profession, and ensure the well-being of its members.
As at June 2019, 30% of barristers at the Victorian Bar were women, and women made up 43% of those with less than 10 years’ practising at the Bar. In 2019, 15% of members were born outside of Australia and 18 languages other than English were spoken at home. Six women have served as Chairs or Presidents of the Bar, including Susan Crennan AC QC, Kate McMillian SC (now the Honourable Justice McMillian), Melanie Sloss SC (now the Honourable Justice Sloss), Fiona McLeod SC, Jennifer Batrouney QC, and the current President Wendy Harris QC. The immediate past-President is Dr Matthew Collins AM QC.
Pro Bono SchemeEdit
In 2000, the Victorian Bar launched a Legal Assistance Scheme in association with the Public Interest Law Clearing House, in order to coordinate pro bono work among barristers in Victoria. Chief Justice of Australia Murray Gleeson praised the Bar for its effort in "making access to justice not only a catch-phrase but a practical reality for many people". The Legal Assistance Scheme, now operating as the 'Pro Bono Scheme' (the Scheme) and PILCH, now operating as Justice Connect, has approximately 1000 participants from the Victorian Bar.
Overseen by the Pro Bono Committee, the Scheme provides assistance to both individuals and community groups. This work includes advocating for human rights, environmental or social justice causes, and helping people who are marginalised, or from disadvantaged backgrounds. The premise of the Scheme is to ensure that everyone has access to legal representation regardless of age, gender, race, disability or socio-economic hardship.
In 2016, the Victorian Bar endorsed the National Model Gender Equitable Briefing Policy, launched by the Law Council of Australia to achieve a nationally consistent approach towards bringing about cultural and attitudinal change within the legal profession with respect to gender briefing practices. The Victorian Bar has also adopted the Law Council’s Diversity and Equality Charter. The Commercial Bar Association of Victoria, members of the Judiciary and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission have also launched the CommBar Equitable Briefing Initiative to increase briefing of women at all levels, and to engage with the law firms that brief the Commercial Bar to commit to real change.
In 2018/19, the Bar Council established three new working groups to broaden the conversation about diversity at the Bar to include LGBTI, disability and accessibility, and race, ethnicity and cultural diversity.
Becoming a BarristerEdit
To become a barrister in Victoria you must:
- be an Australian lawyer;
- pass the entrance examination set by the Victorian Bar to qualify for a place in the Readers' Course;
- satisfactorily complete the 9-10 week Readers' Course; and
- work under an approved mentor at the Victorian Bar for a period of 9 months.
International legal practitionersEdit
All lawyers in Australia must first be admitted to practice. In Victoria the process for admission is conducted by the Victorian Legal Board of Admissions (VLAB). If you have qualified and/or been admitted in a country other than Australia the relevant information can be found on the VLAB website.
Chairman and Presidents of the Victorian BarEdit
|1900 John B Box|
|1900-1903 James L Purves KC|
|1903-1905 John B Box|
|1903-1905 Henry B Higgins KC|
|1906-1913 Frank G Duffy KC|
|1913-1915 Theyre A'B Weigall KC|
|1915-1916 Edward F Mitchell KC|
|1916-1917 William H Irvine KC|
|1917-1918 Edward F Mitchell|
|1918-1920 William G S McArthur KC|
|1920-1922 Edward F Mitchell KC|
|1922-1923 Herbert W Bryant KC|
|1923-1924 Edward F Mitchell KC|
|1924-1925 John G Latham|
|1925-1927 Edward F Mitchell KC|
|1927-1929 Owen Dixon KC|
|1929-1930 Edward F Mitchell KC|
|1930-1932 Wilbur L Ham KC|
|1932-1933 Robert G Menzies KC|
|1933-1934 Wilbur L Ham KC|
|1934-1935 Harry Walker|
|1935-1936 John G Latham KC|
|1936-1937 Wilfred K Fullagar KC|
|1937-1938 Wilbur L Ham KC|
|1938-1939 Clifden H A Eager KC|
|1939-1946 Wilbur L Ham KC|
|1946-1952 Edward R T Reynolds KC|
|1952-1953 James B Tait QC|
|1953-1956 Maurice Ashkanasy QC|
|1956-1958 Richard M Eggleston QC|
|1958-1959 Douglas I Menzies QC|
|1959-1961 Oliver J Gillard QC|
|1961-1962 Reginald A Smithers QC|
|1962-1964 Murray V McInerney QC|
|1964-1966 George H Lush QC|
|1966-1967 Kevin V Anderson QC|
|1967-1969 Xavier Connor QC|
|1969-1971 Peter A Coldham QC|
|1971-1972 William Kaye QC|
|1972-1973 William O Harris QC|
|1973-1975 Richard E McGarvie QC|
|1975-1976 Leo S Lazarus QC|
|1976-1977 Kenneth H Marks QC|
|1977-1979 Frank X Costigan QC|
|1979-1981 Hartog C Berkeley QC|
|1981-1983 Brian Shaw SC|
|1983-1985 Stephen P Charles QC|
|1985-1986 Alex Chernov QC|
|1986-1987 Philip D Cummins QC|
|1987-1988 Charles Francis QC|
|1988-1990 Eugene W Gillard QC|
|1990-1991 David L Harper QC|
|1991-1992 Andrew J Kirkham QC|
|1992-1993 Christopher N Jessup QC|
|1993-1994 Susan Crennan QC|
|1994-1995 David J Habersberger QC|
|1995-1997 John E Middleton QC|
|1997-1998 Neil J Young QC|
|1998-2000 David E Curtain QC|
|2000-2001 D Mark B Derham QC|
|2001-2002 Robert Redlich QC|
|2002-2003 John T Rush QC|
|2003-2004 Robin A Brett QC|
|2004-2005 W Ross Ray QC|
|2005-2006 Kate McMillan SC|
|2006-2007 Michael W Shand QC|
|2007-2008 Peter J Riordan SC|
|2008-2009 G John Digby QC|
|2009-2010 Michael J Colbran QC|
|2010-2011 Mark K Moshinsky SC|
|2011-2012 Melanie Sloss SC|
|2012-2013 Fiona M McLeod SC|
|2013-2014 E William Alstergren QC|
|2014-2015 James W S Peters QC|
|2015-2016 Paul E Anastassiou QC|
|2016-2017 Jennifer J Batrouney QC|
|2017-2019 Matthew J Collins QC|
|2019- Wendy A Harris QC|
- ^ "Bar Statistics - Victorian Bar". Victorian Bar. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
- ^ "Murray Gleeson - Launch of the Victorian Bar Legal Assistance Scheme". High Court of Australia. Retrieved 19 January 2006.