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Accredited specialists celebrate milestone

Briefs

Cite as: Jan/Feb 2015 89 (1/2) LIJ, p.14

There will be a price to pay for the rollback of regulatory and welfare regimes advocated by Australia's major political parties, according to former Supreme Court judge the Hon Frank Vincent QC. 

“A resurgent 19th century liberalist approach is increasingly being advocated and can be seen to be reflected in many policy proposals by our major political parties as we see regulatory and welfare regimes rolled back. There will be a price to pay for that approach,” Justice Vincent said.

The veteran of 24 years on the bench, which included presiding over a record 200-plus murder trials, made the remarks during his keynote speech at the LIV’s Accredited Specialisation 25th anniversary event on 14 November 2014.

The LIV’s specialist program, started in 1989 with family law, has seen more than 950 lawyers accredited across 16 areas of law.

LIV president Katie Miller said it was a significant opportunity for lawyers to demonstrate their specialist skills. “It recognises the depth and breadth of high level, expert skills within the legal profession and assists clients to choose a solicitor with the skill level appropriate to their legal issue,” she said.

Justice Vincent told the assembled specialists that lawyers today face a broader range of problems than in the past.

“No longer are we insulated against the turmoils of external strife. Although the notion has some superficial attractiveness, and certainly it seems to appeal to some of our political leaders, we cannot pull up the drawbridge against the external world. “An aspect of particular concern is the potential of many of the changes occurring in this country and internationally upon the effective operation of the rule of law.

“Questions are being raised concerning the extent to which governments should be involved in the setting and maintenance of standards of a wide range of areas. The resolution of these questions will impact on the work of legal practitioners . . . the answers will determine the kind of society that will result.

“If, as I accept, the primary role of the legal system in a genuinely democratic society is to act as a safeguard against the exercise of arbitrary power, . . . the legal profession has a crucial role to play.” Justice Vincent said lawyers need to understand changes and their implications, continue education and accumulate expertise. When Justice Vincent practised “there was the view that work in the criminal law required few legal skills and little more than a particular type of salesmanship.

“The human rights questions and complex character of the issues in criminal proceed-ings were not recognised for a long time.

“Criminal law is only one area in which continuing education and expertise are required if we are to maintain the respect of the community, properly advise our clients and play our part in upholding the rule of law,” he said.

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