The Law Society of South Australia has a new president, John Goldberg, who was appointed at the society’s annual General Meeting on 20 October.
As law society president, Goldberg says he is determined to drive South Australia’s progress towards joining the national profession. “My number-one priority is bringing South Australia into line with the rest of Australia in having a legal profession act so that we are part of the national profession,” he said.
“As you are probably aware, we did have a Bill introduced into the South Australian Parliament, which became deadlocked over guarantee fund provisions. Since then the Bill has lapsed, but both the Government and the Opposition have shown an interest in working out a compromise and I am looking to press ahead with that.
“It is not a good thing for South Australia to be out of step with the rest of Australia, and so [rectifying] that is definitely my number-one priority.”
In his presidential acceptance speech, Goldberg said he was looking forward to working with the attorney-general and government on the national profession agenda. He told Lawyers Weekly that he believes the Attorney-General, the Honourable Michael Atkinson, MP will remain a keen supporter of the initiative.
“The Attorney-General has certainly supported The Law Society in its desire to have the Legal Profession Bill enacted. He did not accept the Opposition amendments to the guarantee fund, and so the Bill got deadlocked, but I am hoping to work with him and the current Shadow Attorney-General (Isobel Redmond) in working out a compromise that is acceptable to both sides.”
Goldberg has a unique understanding of the issues facing the profession, having literally run the gamut as a legal practitioner in the state. After graduating from South Australia’s first law school at Adelaide University, he worked at Fisher Jeffries for two years, in which time he made junior partner. Then he stepped out to build up his own practice, Goldberg & Co.
“I hung up my shingle and started my own practice … it sort of started by taking on just about anything, but gradually morphed into commercial and property, which was greatly assisted by taking on clients such as Westfield, and I developed quite a solid shopping centre practice.”
As head of his own practice, Goldberg also represented the former managing director of the State Bank during the State Bank Royal Commission.
After 27 years of successfully managing the firm, he returned to the corporate fold, joining medium-sized commercial law firm Cowell and Clarke through a strategic merger.
“About eight years ago I merged my practice into Cowell Clarke and became a partner there. One of the main motivating reasons for that was that some of my clients were too large to service through a boutique practice … and I thought that, rather than go through the growing pains, I would find a practice that was compatible and merge into them.”
Goldberg will continue to maintain his practice at Cowell and Clarke in addition to his new responsibilities as law society president.