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
Idealism and professionalism go hand in hand

Idealism and professionalism go hand in hand

DANNY GILBERT, managing partner of Gilbert + Tobin, has urged law students to use their abilities, not just for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the community, the nation and humanity.…

DANNY GILBERT, managing partner of Gilbert + Tobin, has urged law students to use their abilities, not just for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the community, the nation and humanity.

While law firms must operate as businesses that does not mean lawyers should focus solely on profitability, Gilbert told a graduating class at the UNSW in his occasional address earlier this month.

“Today, legal practices have no choice but to be managed as successful businesses. Although some may find that lamentable, like any business, lawyers and law firms have no choice but to be concerned with generating profits. It might be though that there is too much talk about money. In modern practices, attracting work and practice management are more concerned with the bottom line than anything else. Many law firms are now incorporated and some are listing on the stock exchange. We will see more of this here in Australia and I am confident that it will happen in the UK as well.

“I don’t apologise for any of this. But on the other hand, nor do I agree with some commentators who assert that lawyers in large corporate law firms have abandoned, or must necessarily abandon, the best traditions of true professionalism.”

Gilbert told the graduating students that “altruism, a commitment to the service of others, a commitment to critical dialogue and advocacy and a commitment to the strengthening of civil society will enlarge and transform you, both personally and professionally”. He said that lawyers in firms can and should do more for the community, by supporting legal centres, participating in discussions about public law and human rights and supporting universities that undertake work on these issues, doing pro bono work and standing up for the rule of law.

“True professionalism calls for much more than the pursuit of self-interest. I firmly believe that whatever commercial pressures there are, with character and vigilance the best of what constitute true professionalism can prevail,” Gilbert said.

He also warned against demeaning and dismissing voices of conscience and dissent, saying respect which might encourage participation in public debate is often absent. He said that the “rock-solid foundations of the democratic process, of the rule of law, of free and open speech, of religious tolerance, of civil liberties and the institutions that underpin western societies are more fragile” than he thought them to be.

“Many of today’s political pronouncements and decisions are informed at best by utilitarianism and at worst, by political populism. As a result, policies and decisions are often markedly different from what they might have been, had the debate and the resultant decisions been more influenced by open discussion and informed conscience.”

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

Idealism and professionalism go hand in hand
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
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'...
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...
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 & ...