HOW DOES an assistant university solicitor become a Supreme Court Judge? According to Justice Rosemary Balmford, the answer is “with luck”. While she was doing a variety of different things within the law, she said her status as the first woman to be appointed Judge to the Supreme Court of Victoria was mostly due to serendipity.
“I think there is a lot of luck in anybody’s life and where they move on in their career, and it is silly to pretend there isn’t,” Balmford said. How that luck culminated will form part of her keynote address at the ACLA National Conference to be held in Melbourne from 10 to 11 November.
Currently a Reserve Judge of the Court, Balmford will also speak about the increased representation of women amongst judicial officers in the Commonwealth and state courts in Victoria, where there are now 66 female judges and magistrates. “That certainly wasn’t the case even 10 years ago,” Balmford said.
“A lot of in-house lawyers are women and it is important for them to realise that the openings are there.” She said the appointment of Susan Crennan to the High Court had been a positive development.
“If you don’t use women in any job, whether you are a journalist, on the bench, plumbing or anything, you are wasting the ability of half the population.
Balmford joins Justice Neville Owen of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Kevin Andrews, Australian Securities and Investment Commission chairman Jeffrey Lucy, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel and CEO and managing director of the Australian Stock Exchange, Tony D’Aloisio as part of the full two-day program.
ACLA CEO Peter Turner said there had been a deliberate attempt to go to the “top” when approaching speakers for the event. The presence of three of the country’s four major regulators and the significant involvement from the judiciary would provide a “lot of very relevant information” and “unique perspectives”.
“We have very deliberately picked people who will add value for practising in-house counsel,” Turner said.
The conference itself is being presented in a new format — it will be held over two days instead of one, and the conference dinner will include the presentation of the ACLA Australian In-House Lawyer of the Year awards.