All in the family
This year’s Senior Barrister Award winner is surrounded by lawyers at work and in her personal life.
Jane Dixon QC (pictured right) from Owen Dixon Chambers West comes from a long line of successful lawyers, as does her husband, barrister Chris Winneke.
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Jane’s father was a judge and Chris’ father was the president of the Court of Appeal in Victoria. In fact, there are judges and lawyers dotted throughout the couple’s family tree.
So it’s not surprising that Jane’s eldest daughter, Anna, 25, is currently completing a Juris Doctor at Melbourne University.
Anna accepted The Senior Barrister Award on Jane’s behalf at the Lawyers Weekly Law Awards, proudly sponsored by Michael Page Legal, last Friday night (8 August).
Anna (pictured below with Lawyers Weekly editor Justin Whealing) told the packed room that her mother would have wanted to thank her family.
“I think given she had to send me as her representative, she probably couldn’t have done it without us,” she said, provoking laughter from the crowd.
When speaking with Lawyers Weekly after the Awards, Jane also laughed at her daughter’s comment, but admitted that Anna was right.
“Often, when I’m running around like a mad thing, I say [to Anna] ‘can you type this up for me?’ because she’s a much faster typer than I am.”
Anna is not the only budding lawyer in the family. Jane’s 11-year-old son is also determined to follow in his parents’ footsteps.
Jane has two more daughters aged 15 and 13, the older teenager expressing a strong “non-interest” in becoming a lawyer, said Jane.
An “extraordinary” year
Jane was commended by the category judge for handling a broad range of high-profile cases often under the close scrutiny of the media.
She was also recognised for her contribution to the Bar.
“The list of professional engagements, even in the past 12 months, is extraordinary and demonstrates huge personal commitment and stamina,” wrote Awards judge Tony O’Malley, the former Australian managing partner of King & Wood Mallesons who now heads boutique firm LCR Advisory.
The list of Jane’s board and committee positions is, indeed, extensive.
She is the president of civil liberties body Liberty Victoria; a member of the Criminal Bar Association, Common Law Bar Association and Indigenous Barrister Committee of the Victorian Bar, and chair of the Victorian Bar’s Pro bono Committee, to name just a few of her many appointments.
During her term as chair, the Pro Bono Committee has made submissions to alter rules regarding costs in public interest cases, and launched a pro bono scheme for unrepresented litigants to help clear backlogs in the Court of Appeal.
As president of Liberty Victoria, Jane spearheaded the Young Liberty for Law Reform program, which offers young professional and student volunteers the chance to work on law reform and advocacy projects with human rights experts.
Liberty Victoria also recently made submissions to government about a range of state and federal issues, including changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.
When these achievements were put to Jane, she deflected the praise to her junior barristers, with a special mention to the secretary of the Criminal Bar Association of Victoria, Megan Tittensor.
The other finalists in the Senior Barrister category were: Carmella Ben-Simon from Owen Dixon Chambers West, Julia Lonergan SC from 12 Wentworth Selborne Chambers and Simon Steward QC from Aiken Chambers.
The winner of The Junior Barrister Award, proudly sponsored by Sheahan Lock Partners, was Alexander Flecknoe-Brown from Sydney’s 5 Wentworth Chambers.