How rugby informs the NSW Law Society president’s view on legal professionals

By Jerome Doraisamy|12 February 2020

The sense of duty and willingness to serve the community by lawyers not only imbibes Richard Harvey with a love for the legal profession — it also reminds him of another love of his: rugby.

Speaking last week at the Opening of Law Term Dinner, hosted at NSW Parliament House, the new president of the state’s Law Society, Richard Harvey, outlined his vision for practitioners across the state for 2020 and detailed his personal and professional journey.

At the same event, Supreme Court of NSW Chief Justice Tom Bathurst spoke about how law reflects the “moral conscience” of our society.

In his address, Mr Harvey said that his sense of what a legal professional is — like so much else in his life — has been informed by his years in rugby.

“I confess to being somewhat of an ‘unreconstructed amateur’ at heart, and I mean ‘amateur’ in the original sense of the word, which has its origins in the Latin word for ‘lover’,” Mr Bathurst mused.

“With the exception of the most elite levels of the game, rugby remains a sport driven by volunteers, and played by amateurs. An amateur sportsperson is unlike a paid professional. The amateur does things out of love and not just for the money, and they do it for a vision bigger than themselves.”

This, he submitted, mirrors the efforts undertaken by lawyers.

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“In our family, we have a saying that ‘the volunteer is the most important person in the world and that an amateur will always do far more than a paid professional’. This might explain why so many solicitors are incorrigible volunteers in their communities,” Mr Harvey opined.

“And, why with whatever little downtime they have, they spend it supporting their family, friends and the wider community. One of my first official duties as President was to call upon solicitors to provide voluntary pro bono legal assistance to those affected by the recent bushfires. The response didn’t surprise me at all! It was remarkable, with hundreds of solicitors and firms immediately offering to assist with their time, personnel and resources.

“This voluntary giving is replicated through the massive — let’s call it, usual — pro-bono efforts of the profession. This giving is what our profession does inherently.”

It is one reason why, Mr Harvey said, he loves the legal profession.

“I love the women and men who make up this profession and who put themselves out there every day to further the administration of justice in NSW, be they in small firms, large firms, CLCs, in government or in-house or members of the Bar and the judiciary,” he reflected.

He concluded: “Everything we do and everything we are — from the strength of our networks to the calibre of our people, or our enviable global positioning — are not ends in themselves.

“They have been cultivated carefully over many years to be laid freely at the feet of the profession, to support and empower solicitors and — through them — the citizens.”

How rugby informs the NSW Law Society president’s view on legal professionals
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