find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Our time will come

Our time will come

The head of Australia’s peak female legal body is hopeful the next High Court appointment in March next year will see a majority female bench for the first time.

Kate Ashmor (pictured), the newly-elected president of Australian Women Lawyers (AWL), spoke to Lawyers Weekly after yesterday’s (21 August) announcement that Stephen Gageler SC will replace Justice William Gummow on the High Court in October.

She rejected any notion that Gageler’s appointment represented a missed opportunity by the Government to have a majority of women judges on the High Court for the first time in Australia’s history. Currently, there are four male justices and three female justices.

“We have another shot early next year when Justice Heydon retires in March,” she said. “We are not for tokenism, we are for appointments on merit, and Mr Gageler’s appointment is on merit and is very highly deserved.”

Justice Gummow will be forced to stand down by 9 October, when he celebrates his 70th birthday, as that is the compulsory retirement age for High Court judges.

Justice Dyson Heydon from New South Wales is the next High Court judge due to hit 70, reaching that milestone on 1 March next year.

“We look forward to an exciting prospect early next year where we might see the balance tipped  towards females, which interestingly would reflect Australia’s population where there are slightly more women than men,” said Ashmor.

Gageler’s appointment has been welcomed by legal bodies.
 

“Both in his work as a barrister and as Commonwealth solicitor general, Mr Gageler has been a respected contributor to the Australian legal profession,” said Law Council of Australia president Catherine Gale. “He is a highly-regarded and well-respected member of the legal profession and will bring to the position of Justice of the High Court of Australia his sound judgment, integrity and well-recognised commitment to the law and to social justice issues.”

Prior to his appointment as the Commonwealth solicitor general, Gageler was a barrister with Sydney’s renowned Eleven Wentworth Chambers for 16 years, and was appointed a silk in 2000.

He has been chairman of the NSW Bar Association’s Constitutional Law Section from 2000 to 2008 and was the editor of the Australian Law Reports from 2006 to 2008.

Gageler, 54, grew up in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales, north of Sydney.

Mum’s the word
In making the announcement of Gageler’s appointment, the Attorney-General listed the AWL as one of a number of legal bodies that she consulted with.

Ashmor told Lawyers Weekly that her predecessor in the role, Rebecca Lee, recommended a “small number of names”, which she refused to divulge. She is hopeful that the AG will once more sound out the AWL in making the appointment to replace Justice Heydon next year.

Ashmor believes there are a number of women who would make excellent High Court appointees, but she won’t name names.

“We have had 15 years of the AWL and there are a number of senior counsels there who would be wonderful assets [to the High Court],” she said.

“I wouldn’t like to single out anyone but isn’t it wonderful that there is too many to single out?”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Our time will come
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
Aug 16 2017
Urgent criminal law reforms can prevent ‘unwarranted acquittals’
Concerns about unfair prejudice arising from the use of tendency and coincidence evidence are mispla...
Aug 15 2017
Press Control-S on your firm
Promoted by BHL Software It’s now a truism that when your IT systems stop working, so does you...
Aug 15 2017
The Importance of Leadership Skills for Aspiring Lawyers
Promoted by LHD Lawyers Even the most prominent lawyers of our age (or ages past, for that matter...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...