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Bishop taunts Gillard on lawyerly past

Bishop taunts Gillard on lawyerly past

Old legal acquaintances were renewed yesterday with two ex-lawyers going at it hammer and tongs in Federal Parliament.With the coalition launching a withering attack on Prime Minister Julia…

Old legal acquaintances were renewed yesterday with two ex-lawyers going at it hammer and tongs in Federal Parliament.

With the coalition launching a withering attack on Prime Minister Julia Gillard about her decision to introduce a carbon tax, Deputy Opposition leader Julie Bishop in particular took up the cudgels to the Prime Minister: "Now the Prime Minister was a lawyer in another life before she became the Prime Mis-leader of this nation," she said.

Folklaw very much enjoyed the spectacle of Bishop cleverly bringing up the PM's past as she obviously got confused by the austere surrounds of the House of Representatives, thinking for a moment that she might have been back in the courtroom.

Gillard, of course, was a partner with Slater & Gordon before she joined public life while Bishop was once a member of John Howard's old firm, Clayton Utz. Both women had distinguished legal careers before entering Parliament in 1998, rising to their respective firm's partnership before they were 30.

While their legal careers would have provided few opportunities for their paths to cross - Gillard was a Melbourne-based partner of a plaintiff law firm and Bishop a Perth-based partner with a corporate firm - there was at least some cross-over with regard to big tobacco issues.

Clayton Utz acted for the Tobacco Institute of Australia (TIA) while Bishop was a partner, and also acted for Rothmans in the Nixon class action against tobacco companies, with Slater & Gordon on the other side of the table.

But alas, it seems neither of them share any kindred spirit after successful careers in the male dominated world of law, with Bishop having previously said Gillard comes from "the background of a left-wing feminist seeing leadership in the context of a gender battle". For her part, Gillard has called Bishop a "silly sausage".

Folklaw hopes that the two former lawyers and most senior women on their respective side of politics might eventually become friends and reminisce about the old days of timesheets and class actions.

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