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Welcome for Judge Jennifer Howe, Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Welcome for Judge Jennifer Howe, Federal Circuit Court of Australia

By LIV Media

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May it please the Court.
I too acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and pay my respects to their elders: past, present, and emerging.

I am here today on behalf of the President of the Law Council of Australia Dr Jacoba Brash and President of the Law Institute of Victoria Ms Tania Wolff, to offer our congratulations and wish Your Honour well in your appointment to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

[As we have heard], Your Honour attended Lady of Mercy school in Heidelberg, graduating as school captain in 1990, before going on to graduate with a Bachelor of Laws and Master of Laws from La Trobe University.

You came to law after you married your number one supporter, Dave, and following the birth of your first child. Two more children followed as you balanced motherhood with the role of law student.

Your Honour didn’t enjoy your first foray into the legal profession – finding that commercial litigation, bankruptcy and insolvency matters were not for you.  This has turned out to be their loss and our gain.

It was after you took on the role of solicitor advocate in the Family Violence Pilot Program at the Heidelberg Magistrates Court, that you found your family law calling.

In 2010, and following the birth of your fourth child, you were called to the Victorian Bar.

As a mother of four, and being from a large family yourself, you bring that rich experience and insights of family life into your chosen area of family law.

As a barrister, you were known to be extremely sensible, practical, and always pleasant to deal with.

It has been noted that Your Honour has always genuinely focused on the needs of children in your work.  You have harnessed your years of professional experience to try and achieve outcomes for the benefit of the children who have been at the centre of the family law matters in which you have been involved.

A colleague has said of you -

‘It’s her ability to focus on what is really important –that’s what will make her a really good judge. She is very good at cutting to the chase, distilling the issues, understanding what’s really going on.’

Your Honour brings a wealth of knowledge, personal integrity and good sense to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and is joining the bench at a time when the stand-alone Family Court of Australia will cease to be.  There is no doubt you will make a positive mark within this changing Court environment.

All who speak of you, do so with overwhelming warmth and affection.  You will be missed at the Bar.

When asked,  many have commented on how willing you have been to make yourself available  - whether that be to discuss matters with your instructors or speak to fellow practitioners about anything they might need…

You have been known to be the patient ear that listens to others when discussing ideas on a case or listening to those who need to de-brief after a difficult day in Court.

Your Honour has the reputation of being the consummate professional, who thoroughly prepared her cases.

You were pleased when approached and asked to be a mentor, saying you were surprised that anyone would ask you and this is a demonstration of Your Honour’s humility.  Your former mentee wishes the time with you could have been longer but clearly wishes you well.

Your organisational skills are legendary. You are on two boards and have managed your son’s football team.  It would be remiss of me if I did not mention your role with the Family Law Bar Association.

Your Honour was instrumental in organising Barefoot Bowls on behalf of the Family Law Bar Association – an event not to be missed. 

This event sees judges, their associates, barristers, and solicitors gathering at the lawn bowling facility just across the road from the Courts and roll a few as well as catch up with each other in a convivial and collegiate setting.

Actually, if you head down to the bowling green tonight, we may just find Your Honour enjoying a game or two. 

Other than your family, your other big love is the Tigers - or for any non-Victorians - the Richmond Football Club.  Your love of the Tigers is apparent from a photo in the Family Law Forum Facebook page depicting a chocolate football bejewelled in Richmond colours and the medallion which simply reads  “Go Tigers!”.

Your role in disseminating CPD offerings and information provided a bridge between the two branches of the profession – barristers and solicitors.  

And ironically it was usually Your Honour who would notify us of appointments to the bench.

As said by your colleague Celia Conlan, upon hearing of your appointment …

“We, your colleagues, are both blessed by the potential of your appointment and saddened by your absence from our ranks, in equal measure. Congratulations to a superb human being.”

We will miss your wisdom from that forum as your judicial office will preclude your participation.  But of greater concern is that it is unclear who your successor will be in organising the Barefoot Bowls……

The people of Australia are privileged to be served by you in this role, and solicitors and barristers have every confidence that you will make an exceptional judicial officer.

On behalf of the Law Council of Australia and the Law Institute of Victoria, we wish Your Honour the very best.

As the Court pleases.


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