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New judges join Australia’s federal courts in 2017

Attorney-General George Brandis QC has announced that three judges will be appointed to the federal courts, sitting in the Sydney and Melbourne registries.

Dr Robert Harper SC will join the Sydney Federal Circuit Court registry in January. Then, in February, Anthony Kelly QC and David O’Callaghan QC will take their judicial offices in Melbourne, sitting in the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court respectively.

The Attorney-General said the new Federal Court judges will bring “a wealth of experience and expertise across a range of practice areas”.

Senator Brandis congratulated the men and thanked them on behalf of the government “for their willingness to serve the people of Australia”.

The president of the Law Council of Australia, Stuart Clark AM, echoed the Attorney-General’s sentiments, adding that the three appointees have made significant contributions to the legal sector over their careers.

Dr Harper is an accredited mediator. He received his PhD from the University of Sydney in 1997 and obtained a bachelor of arts with honours and a bachelor of laws from the same institution in the 1980s.

“Dr Harper has experience across a wide range of jurisdictions, but has particular expertise in building and construction law, and is a member of the Society of Construction Law Australia,” Mr Clark said.

“He also has 20 years' experience as a mediator.”

Mr Kelly graduated from RMIT in 1982 with a certificate from the Council of Legal Education. After five years working as a solicitor, he joined Owen Dixon Chambers West in 1987. He has been practising as a barrister ever since.

Mr Clark noted Mr Kelly’s active role in mentoring young lawyers, in his capacity as a lecturer at Monash University.

“He is also a member of the Victorian Commercial Bar Association and the Victorian Bar insurance committee.”

David O’Callaghan was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2003. He signed the Victorian bar roll in 1986. Two years prior, Mr O’Callaghan obtained a master of laws from Yale University.

“Along with his extensive experience in Australia, Mr O’Callaghan is admitted to practice in Connecticut and New York.

“Mr O’Callaghan is also the current senior vice-president of the Victorian Bar [Council],” Mr Clark said.

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