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Welcome Judge Lisa Hannan

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Cite as: (2006) 80(12) LIJ, p. 31


Judge Lisa Hannan was welcomed to the County Court of Victoria on 10 October. Among the speakers was Law Institute of Victoria Council member Elissa Watson. An edited version of her prepared speech appears below.

I appear on behalf of Victoria’s solicitors to congratulate your Honour on your appointment as a judge of the County Court of Victoria.

Your career at the Bar, and as a magistrate since 1998, spans almost 30 years, and means you bring to the County Court extensive experience as state supervising magistrate in the criminal jurisdiction, as well as defence and prosecution experience in mainly criminal trials.

During your 10-year stint at the Bar your Honour represented many government bodies before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal as well as practising in civil proceedings, equal opportunity and mental health proceedings and family law.

You will be particularly remembered for the extensive work you have done in recent years to streamline procedures in the Magistrates’ Court for handling sexual offences, and for having been responsible for implementing the specialist sexual offences list in the Magistrates’ Court.

As a magistrate you also served as chair of the criminal law committee and as the Court’s representative on the sexual assault advisory committee and the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s review of the Bail Act.

For those who are wondering how you balanced all these roles and achievements with family life – and, with your husband Steve Pica, also a lawyer, raising two won-derful children – they need not worry. We have it on good authority that you have been known to be so short of things to do that you have on occasion whipped up a batch of muffins for an early morning staff meeting in your office. I believe they were of the highest quality too.

Nevertheless, Court 12 at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court will not be the same without your presence.

Your Honour may not be aware that many a young solicitor or barrister has shaken in their boots wondering what sort of “hair day” you are having when they appear before you.

Apparently some experienced hands have developed a test that will surely fail now you are required to cover your hair in your new role. They assessed how politely they needed to approach the Bench on the basis of whether your hair was coiffed “flat” or “high”. Those who appear before you in future will have to be more creative in their judgments.

During your distinguished career you have been known for very high and exacting standards for yourself and all those around you.

This was tested a few weeks after you joined the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court when a few of those in the office secretly drafted and served a search warrant, seeking permission to search the residential premises of one Lisa Hannan. Apparently the devil was in the detail, as usual, suggesting, among other things, that there was evidence of former clients visiting your house and of you extracting treats from “The Chocolate Box”.

Of course, your Honour never got down to this level of detail which would have revealed the prank for what it was. Instead, when presented with this false warrant, you immediately refused to examine the detail, saying it would be quite improper to do so, and called for another magistrate to handle the case. We understand it took quite some time for the criminal coordinator to convince you to read the details and immediately appreciate the joke.

Fortunately, you had previously enjoyed several years at Galbally & O’Bryan, where you were originally articled to Peter Ward, which allowed you to hone your fine sense of judgment as well as your sense of humour. It was there that you encountered what was widely known as the “A-team”, which included among its number one Steve Pica, who would become your husband.

Your Honour and the first female criminal lawyer at Galbally & O’Bryan, Joan Dixon, were something of a challenge to the predominantly male group of highflyers who apparently enjoyed the good life without care or responsibilities.

In this fairly competitive environment you shone brightly, perhaps having already sharpened your spirit and skill in the family environment, including against your brother Neil, who was also a commercial lawyer.

Your Honour has recently studied the Vietnamese language and been actively involved in several professional development initiatives for young lawyers through the Law Institute of Victoria. You are a member of the Victoria Law Foundation advisory group involved in producing a children’s publication, Going to Court, and are on the editorial committee for the Victorian Trial Manual and the Victorian Sentencing Manual.

You leave in your wake a number of people in awe of your accomplishments and achievements.

So on behalf of Victoria’s solicitors may I again congratulate you on your appointment and wish you a long and rewarding service of this Court.

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