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80 years of informing the legal profession

News

Cite as: (2007) 81(7) LIJ, p. 18


Developments in the law and the standing of the legal profession have been the focus of the LIJ for the past 80 years.

Eight decades. Almost 960 editions. Up to 150 contributors a year writing on as many as 250 topics. Such is the legacy of the Law Institute Journal (LIJ) as it celebrates its 80th anniversary.

Since the first issue in July 1927, generations of solicitors have relied on the LIJ to keep them informed about developments in the law and legal practice, happenings inside firms and the latest from the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV).

Along the way, the peer-reviewed publication has attracted numerous accolades and collected highly valued reporting and design awards [see “Quality brings its own awards” on page 19].

As the LIV’s flagship legal publication, the LIJ is avidly read, not only by solicitors, but also by the broader legal profession, including judges, barristers, legal associations and law schools, both nationally and internationally.

Victorian Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Warren said she looked forward to reading the LIJ every month.

“In my time as Chief Justice I have had very high regard for the professionalism of the LIJ, and its topical coverage of the legally important issues in our state,” the Chief Justice said.

“The LIJ has reported on a number of significant developments and appointments at the Supreme Court, and has established itself as a leading publication on lawyers and the law in Australia. I look forward to it every month.”

LIJ managing editor Mick Paskos said the 80th anniversary was an opportunity to acknowledge the ongoing efforts of the legal profession in supporting the publication.

“The strong reputation the LIJ enjoys is mainly a result of the ongoing high quality contributions from the legal profession,” Mr Paskos said.

“The LIJ is greatly indebted to the efforts of members of the profession in making this such a valued publication.”

Ten years after being established, in 1937 the LIJ acquired a Queensland section, subsidised by the Queensland Law Society.

During the Second World War, the quality of paper on which the LIJ was published declined significantly, and it shrank to a record low of 10 pages.

Editors served honorary terms, at least until the LIJ’s 25th anniversary in 1952.

Later that year advertising revenue began rolling in after the appointment of an agency.

Greater publicity was given to the work of the LIV Council and more personal material was published as LIV membership grew to more than 1000 in the lead up to its 1959 centenary.

Photographs began to appear during the 1950s, with some of the first taken at the Jubilee Legal Convention in 1951. It was another 30 years before colour was used regularly.

By its 50th year in 1977, the LIJ had an expanded and slightly glossier format, with a cover price of $1 and an annual subscription price of $10.

In 1979, then LIV Council president and now Supreme Court Justice Bernard Teague questioned whether professional conduct rules should be amended to make it mandatory for LIV members to read the LIJ.

“The more members we have stirring, needling and pushing, through the pages of the Journal, the more likely it is that the right sort of changes will be made and that the weightier contents of the Journal will have the impact they deserve,” he declared.

By the early 1980s, the LIJ covers splashed full colour photos. Its 60th anniversary edition in 1987 was devoted to road trauma and the Spycatcher case in the New South Wales Supreme Court, involving the publishing of former British spy Peter Wright’s memoirs. It boasted a $6 cover price.

Its 75th anniversary edition, in July 2002, was the first to be published online.

October 2002 saw a complete redesign and relaunch of the LIJ, aimed at keeping the publication relevant to its modern readership.

“As the demands on lawyers have increased, so has the need for information to be delivered in a more concise and easier to digest format,” Mr Paskos said at the time.

Evolution has been a hallmark of the LIJ’s success, yet when it comes to content some issues have refused to go away.

Court congestion was the lead story in July 1927 and again made the headlines 50 years later under the 1980s buzz phrase of case flow management.

Technology’s footprint has been a common thread from an advertisement showcasing Thomas Edison’s “Ediphone” dictating machine in 1927 to stories in the 1990s outlining the pitfalls of the World Wide Web for firms.

LIJ Editorial Committee chair and LIV Council member Aurora Kostezky said the LIJ’s longevity was partly due to the willingness of lawyers to share knowledge with their peers.

The committee was constantly impressed with the depth and breadth of knowledge of the contributors, which underpinned the editorial standard, she said.

“Not only do lawyers write for the LIJ, but many give invaluable time in reviewing articles, penning book reviews and letters to the editor and also suggesting improvements to the publication.”

Ms Kostezky also praised the efforts of the many LIV staff who contribute to the LIJ each month.

“While the majority of the work is done by the Publications Department, numerous other areas of the LIV play crucial roles in producing the LIJ,” she said.

“These include the LIV Library, Advocacy and Practice, Marketing, Human Resources, Ethics, Professional Development, Professional Standards, the LIV media adviser and Member Services. It is really a whole-of-LIV effort.”

Contributors and supporters of the LIJ, both past and present, number in their hundreds and include LIV life member and former chair of the LIJ Editorial Committee Geoff Gronow.

The Middletons defamation expert, who has been the LIJ’s legal adviser for many years, was instrumental in bringing the magazine layout and design trends of the early eighties to the LIJ.

“The journal has managed to evolve while maintaining its readership,” Mr Gronow said. “It covers a broad demographic, including a lot of sole practitioners, and it meets their needs very well.”

Other longserving contributors who have been acknowledged with LIV Certificates of Service include Greg Reinhardt (Supreme Court judgments summaries), Tom Hurley (High and Federal Court judgments summaries) and Middletons lawyer George Stogdale who has also legalled content for the LIJ.

LIV president Geoff Provis said the LIJ had undergone enormous improvements since he started practice in 1980.

“Back then it was a bland and reasonably uninviting journal consisting solely of text which wasn’t very attractive. Now it is without question the leader among Australian legal professional publications.”

Way back when

“With every session the congestion of business before the Supreme Court grows worse. Public interests are seriously affected by the failure of successive governments to take the statesmanlike action of amending the Supreme Court Act and appointing more permanent judges ... ”

So declared the Law Institute Journal’s opening editorial – titled “Court Congestion” – in July 1927.

In his lead story, editor GL Mayman warned readers the number of judges had not changed since 1886 and claimed there was “no margin of safety in the present position”.

“It but needs another judge to enter on the sick list to render the whole judicial programme unworkable,” he thundered.

[And for more on how in 80 years things have not changed greatly, see the Victorian Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Warren’s State of the Victorian Judicature speech on page 25 of this edition of the LIJ.]

The first edition also welcomed the new state Attorney-General, Mr W Slater, describing him as “young and courageous” and possessing “plenty of driving force”.

The idea of publishing an official journal was first put to the LIV Council in 1912, but it was to be 15 years before the LIV had the financial clout and membership to support it.

The journal was well received, with numerous letters of congratulation flooding in from as far as South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and New Zealand.

“The first number is interesting. I should think it will prove useful in many ways, and no doubt fresh features will be added,” said a High Court judge.

Quality brings its own awards

The LIJ has competed successfully with national and state-based daily newspapers and other major media outlets to win awards and receive numerous commendations at the Victorian mainstream media awards (the Quills) and the Victorian Legal Reporting Awards.

Since 2000, the winners have been:

2007 Legal Reporting Awards

Best Legal Image – Illustration: Nigel Buchanan

2005 Quill Awards

Best Page Layout: Katherine Alexander

2005 Legal Reporting Awards

Best Legal Image – Illustration: Gregory Baldwin

2004 Legal Reporting Awards

Reporter of the Year on Legal Issues: Jason Silverii

2001 Legal Reporting Awards

Best Legal Image – Illustration: Kerry Millard

2000 Legal Reporting Awards

Best Report in Print: Melinda Brown

Best Legal Image – Illustration: Leigh Hobbs

Best Legal Image – Photograph: David Johns

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