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Pageantry on parade


Cite as: March 2011 85(3) LIJ, p.16

Lawyers across Victoria gathered on 31 January to celebrate one of the profession's oldest traditions.

Opening of the legal year observances are the chief annual ceremonies for the profession. They provide a rare opportunity for the general public to glimpse the full pageantry of the law outside a courtroom.

Religious services this year were held in Melbourne at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation and the Greek Orthodox Cathedral Church.

A regional service was also held in Geelong’s St Mary of the Angels Basilica.

LIV president Caroline Counsel attended the St Paul’s service, where she gave a reading from the book of the prophet Micah. Also in attendance were state Attorney-General Robert Clark and other members of the legal profession.

LIV CEO Michael Brett Young attended the St Patrick’s Red Mass.

A secular celebration was held in Queen’s Hall at Parliament House, where Court of Appeal president Justice Chris Maxwell was special guest speaker.

The theme of speakers at the fourth annual International Commission of Jurists ceremony was “celebrating how the community and the legal system work together towards achieving a just society”.

Two days later, the eighth annual Victoria Law Foundation Legal Laneway Breakfast was held in Hardware Lane.

The first official ceremony held to mark the opening of the legal year occurred over 400 years ago in London.

Although services marking the opening of the legal year have been held in New South Wales since the 19th century, it was not until 1946 that it was first celebrated in Melbourne. The first ecumenical celebration took place at St James’ Cathedral, West Melbourne, while a Red Mass was held at its current location at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

The services are designed to provide an avenue for practitioners to recommit to the highest standards of excellence and ethics in practice and the primacy of the rule of law. Services generally include prayers, hymns, psalms and anthems.


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