It might go down in the history books as “Black Friday”, but members of the legal profession happily put aside the economic gloom and doom last Friday afternoon to attend Lawyers Weekly’s second annual Last Laugh Luncheon.
Over a delicious three-course meal and a glass of wine or three, more than 100 lawyers gathered at the Sydney Tattersalls Club to be thorouhly entertained by the event’s MC, comedian Adam Spencer, and guest speaker, Victorian Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry.
Spencer began by noting that as a journalist, he was somewhat of an unexpected choice to MC a legal lunch, considering that the media and the legal profession haven’t always been “the best of mates”.
However Spencer was quick to reassure the audience that he personally has no grudge against lawyers. “Coming from the ABC I have no opinion on anything — it’s part of the job description,” he said.
However that didn’t stop him having a few light hearted swipes at the profession. Following a very swift speech by Middletons partner Erin Devery, which Spencer timed in at just 87 seconds, Spencer joked: “That’s well under a billable unit, so it won’t cost you anything, unless she worked at Keddies, in which case it would have cost you $37,000.”
But the main message to the audience from Spencer’s speech was to follow your passion, regardless of how unfashionable it may be.
“If you’re lucky enough to be doing something you’re truly passionate about, you’re three quarters of the way there,” he said. “In fact, chances are that if you’re doing something you’re truly passionate about, 98 per cent of people won’t have the slightest bit of interest in it.”
And with a first-class honours degree in pure maths, the self confessed “geek” probably knows what he’s talking about.
Guest speaker Justice Lasry addressed, briefly, the more serious topic of the current financial downturn. Justice Lasry warned that in traumatic times, there is the risk that people will take drastic, short-term actions which threaten the rule of law.
As an example, Justice Lasry discussed his experiences visiting Guantanamo Bay, which he described as a “imitation judicial system”. “I say ‘imitation’, because it has none of the judicial independence or protection of the rule of law that goes with a judicial system,” he said. “Amercians said that the trials of Guantanamo Bay would be full and fair but they’re not.”
Justice Lasry described Guantanamo Bay as an example of a system put in place in traumatic times that simply doesn’t work, and he urged the legal profession to get involved in public debate and to fight to ensure that the rule of law is not sidelined by hasty actions.
Concluding the event, Spencer and Devery drew the names of the winners of the lucky door prizes, which included an enviable two-day trip to the Hunter Valley.
Guests agreed that the second annual Last Laugh was a highly enjoyable event, described by Spencer as “a breath of levity amid the gloom.”