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Welcome Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth

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Cite as: (2004) 78(7) LIJ, p. 25

Recently appointed Supreme Court of Victoria Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth was welcomed to the Supreme Court at a ceremony on 10 June 2004. Among the speakers was Law Institute president Chris Dale. An edited version of his speech appears below.

Your Honour’s elevation today is celebrated by the solicitors of this state because you bring to the Bench such an impressive range of qualities and experience.

We have heard that you were born in England and initially grew up in Canberra. You attended secondary school in Canberra and in Geelong. From the nation’s capital you crossed the Nullarbor to Western Australia and attended the University of Western Australia to complete your bachelor of jurisprudence and laws with honours. During this time you continued to pursue an interest in extra curricular activities – particularly in the sporting arena.

Your time at university culminated in your Honour being awarded the “Parsons Memorial Prize in Law” for the most outstanding law student. This was a promise of things to come.

You began your distinguished legal career with a summer clerkship and research position in Perth during 1983.

Your Honour’s articles of clerkship were commenced in 1984 with Perth firm, Stephen Jacques Stone James (later to become part of Mallesons Stephen Jacques). However, your articles year was to be interrupted by a Rhodes scholarship to attend Oxford University, which you accepted in September 1984.

Returning to Perth two years later, you continued working towards admission to practice in what was then Mallesons Stephen Jacques in West Australia, which occurred in April 1987.

Colleagues describe your Honour as a “star from the start”. Not only did your Honour possess star qualities but you were also said to be – “a really nice person”.

One frightened young lawyer was grateful for your thoughtfulness in taking him under your wing and providing sound advice and counsel. In turn, he cites himself as “a big fan” of your Honour. From little acorns mighty oaks grow. That frightened young lawyer is today the partner in charge of Mallesons in Perth, Robert Cole.

In April 1988, you again crossed the Nullarbor to Mallesons Melbourne office. Your Honour initially practised as a highly qualified law clerk while serving out a notice period – before being admitted to practice in Victoria on 1 August 1988.

Only a year later on 1 July 1989, you were appointed senior associate with Mallesons. Your practice areas at this time included commercial litigation, tort litigation, insolvency, trade practices and securities.

Two years on, after being made a senior associate, on 28 November 1991, you left Mallesons to join the Victorian Bar.

After joining the Bar, you were said to have retained your “approachability” when advising your instructing solicitors – and you were said to be “very democratic and responsive to their input”.

Your ability to work as a team player while maintaining your assertiveness was widely respected.

Also your Honour displayed considerable skill in communicating complex legal issues and procedures to clients and lay people.

I have spoken on other occasions for the need for strong role models in the profession to stem the tide of young lawyers leaving the profession. Many solicitors have commented on the fact that you have provided an excellent role model for young practitioners.

Practitioners who have had the benefit of drawing on your Honour’s commercial expertise attest to the fact that you will administer justice in a practical manner, which reflects your own experiences in commercial law. An examination of the cases on which you have worked at the Bar display a great breadth of legal subject matter which can only be a significant enhancement to this Court.

One quality your Honour is renowned for which will benefit the judiciary, is the capacity to relate to people and have a human face, while controlling the environment in which your Honour works.

Your Honour is widely described as an intellectually gifted lawyer with extensive practical experience, attributes which can only serve to ensure your success in this new role.

You are described as an extremely loyal friend and great listener – someone to turn to for sound advice ... both professionally and personally. Indeed your Honour is said to be a great listener who is generous in spirit and generous with her time but who doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

The obvious importance your Honour places on friends, family and work is reciprocated with overwhelming affirmation.

May I once again congratulate you on your elevation to this honourable Court, commend your appointment, and on behalf of the Law Institute and the solicitors we represent, particularly those at your old firm, wish you all the best for the future.

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