Former High Court judge Michael Kirby has spoken out in praise of young lawyers, whom he credits with being the champions of important causes within the legal profession.
Speaking with his usual jocularity at a NSW Young Lawyers event last night (6 September), Kirby congratulated the Young Lawyers' Association for having the foresight and concern to deal with issues such as depression within the legal profession.
"Young Lawyers is an amazing organisation. There was nothing like it when I was around. Lawyers were all old, terribly old! Some of them were even as old as I now am myself," said Kirby.
"[Old lawyers] were in charge of the Law Society and young lawyers never got a look in. But nowadays, it's the young lawyers ... who pick up great causes. A few years back they picked up the cause of stress and depression in the legal profession when no-one else wanted to talk about it. No-one else, that is, except myself."
Kirby praised the drive and vision of young lawyers in confronting such issues, including via the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation and associated programs, and urged them to continue doing so.
"This is a really serious issue and it sometimes takes young lawyers, who haven't got cobwebbed over with all the attitudes and conventions, to look freshly at an issue and pick it up and run with it," he said.
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