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Welcome ceremony for Magistrate Meghan Hoare

Welcome ceremony for Magistrate Meghan Hoare

By LIV Media


May it please the Court.

I appear on behalf of the Law Institute of Victoria and the solicitors’ arm of the profession to welcome Your Honour Meghan Hoare as a Magistrate.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we gather and pay our respects to their Elders, past and present, and to any indigenous people here today.

After more than 20 years’ representing many thousands of injured workers and motorists, other clients with diverse legal needs, leading teams of lawyers, working for law reform, and having helped restore common law rights to seriously injured workers, Your Honour’s new – and very significant - work begins officially here today. 

We offer you warm congratulations as you transition from advocate to adjudicator, and your hard work culminates, for now at least, with this appointment.

To those of us who’ve observed you as a skilled lawyer and litigator, it is a fitting progression.

As a teenager, Your Honour watched your late father, Geoff, on the bench at the Russell Street Magistrates’ Court.

Your Honour was exposed then to the important and sometimes onerous responsibility of the office you now occupy, as you saw him grapple with the inherent dilemmas of sentencing criminal offenders, and the burden of the power to incarcerate.

You assume the role of ensuring that justice is administered fairly and impartially, with your eyes wide open.

Your brother Tim was also recently appointed to the bench. 

It’s now officially a dynasty.

Your mother, Maureen, who is here today, should surely be entitled to a finder’s fee, or at least a high five from the Chief after this.

Your Honour reports being overwhelmed at the faith placed in you when the call came through from the Attorney-General offering this role – if somewhat discombobulated by the rush to find and scan your passport before the afternoon acceptance deadline. 

Despite the fact that you had to arrange for a refund on a company director’s course you’d enrolled in, and overcome a bout of imposter syndrome, there was never any doubt that you would accept the role. 

Few among your rabid Collingwood throng would have such a perfect distraction from another disappointing season, but we won’t dwell there. 

Suffice to say, we’re sure Your Honour can muster a much more composed even-handedness in this context than that on show on any given weekend at the ‘G.

You’ve been swamped by words of congratulations, from colleagues, friends and opponents alike.

After being admitted in 1994, you found romance in Glasgow, then returned to Australia to work in Slater & Gordon’s motor vehicle accidents division for a couple of years.

There was then a tree change to Bendigo where personal injury practice and two sons were your focus.

Your advocacy on behalf of injured people who don’t have the capacity to fight was described by more than one colleague as inspirational, and another former colleague called Your Honour the face of injured workers in Victoria … I am assuming that was a compliment …

I had the great pleasure of working with you in Bendigo. I personally witnessed your work ethic, grace under pressure, and great dignity in the face of personal and professional challenges properly described as profound and existential.

I am proud to say, if Your Honour will permit us still to claim you, that you are the third alumni of Arnold Dallas McPherson to be appointed to the bench. 

At this rate, I, too, am considering a finder’s fee.

Your Honour returned to Slater’s in ‘06, specialising in workers compensation in Melbourne and Ringwood.

Your Honour cared for clients, grew the practice, and progressed to oversee the running of the Victorian WorkCover division of the firm.

Through difficult times for Slater’s, founded in 1935 and enjoying a storied history of landmark wins for otherwise out-gunned underdogs, you remained focussed on delivering results for clients.

Your former colleagues speak of the important role you played in key initiatives to keep the firm going.

Your Honour rolled up your sleeves and assumed the carriage of cases when lawyers had left the firm. 

One former colleague said that through this period you were a “rock of Gibraltar”.

More broadly, Your Honour has contributed substantially to strategic policy development as well as legislative and regulatory changes in Workers Compensation and personal injury law.

This has been achieved in roles as chair of the LIV WorkCover Committee; Ministerial Appointee to the WorkCover Advisory Committee; and as the Victorian Trades Hall Council representative on WorkSafe’s Common Law Working Group.

You name the setting of lower premiums for employers so that funds are available for employee safety as a key accomplishment.

You have also been a trustee of Law Aid, the charitable trust established by the Bar and the LIV that funds disbursements in civil matters.

The Workcover practice you led in Victoria was Slater’s largest practice group in the country, with 120 staff across 14 locations. 

One employee you mentored said of you: “Meg is a selfless and fierce leader, interested in people and without concern for hierarchy.”

Your Honour has dealt with tough times, seeking solutions in rooms full of contesting positions, and often finding what you call the “least worst” outcome for everyone.

The community will doubtless benefit in your new role from your ability to cut through the noise and get to the heart of an issue.

On behalf of the solicitors’ arm of the profession, thank you for bringing your experience and wisdom to this busy place, where some of the most complex circumstances and wicked problems come to roost, and a cool head is needed to progress cases, fairly assess and rule on them, and, it is hoped, assist in guiding criminal offenders out of the justice system.

On the difficult days I’m tipping your cavoodles might be a more reliable consolation than Collingwood, but we know you will nonetheless remain black and white.

May the challenges be balanced by the years of rewarding and important work in front of you.

Congratulations, Your Honour.

May it please the Court.

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