In recognition of his contribution to the betterment of law and justice in the community, Aboriginal and family law specialist Matthew Myers was awarded the 2011 President's Medal at the Law Society of NSW's Annual Members Dinner last night (27 October).
Accepting the honour in front of more than 200 members of the legal profession at the Art Gallery of NSW, the partner of Central Coast Family Law had the room's undivided attention as he told a captivating story of his first case straight out of law school, which involved an Aboriginal man shot by police in a car chase.
Also honoured last night were the achievements of the state's solicitors who have practised law for 50 years, with each receiving an individual mention for their contribution to the profession.
Myers' acceptance speech followed an address from the NSW Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, the Honourable Greg Smith, and a speech from Law Society president Stuart Westgarth, who discussed the work done throughout the year to help move towards a national profession, to address the issue of time billing, and to ensure the advancement of women in the law.
As the guest speaker for the evening, Smith discussed his support for the national regulation of the legal profession, the Government's legislation reform to address drunk and disorderly behaviour, new face-covering laws, and legislative moves to address the state's graffiti issues.
Noting Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland's confidence that the country's remaining jurisdictions will join the move towards a national profession, Smith mentioned the advantages national regulation will have for the profession and welcomed NSW as the home for the new National Legal Services Board and National Legal Services Commissioner.
"Australia has a national economy and it makes sense that we have the same rules and entry requirements for those who work across state borders. Many of you and other lawyers do that every day," he said. "The NSW legal profession is by far Australia's largest with more than 40 per cent of Australia's legal practitioners based in the state ... The state has the resources and the expertise to take on a leadership role."