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2023 ‘presents several opportunities for barristers’

When it comes to learning and development, the coming year offers enormous scope for growth, say two bar association presidents.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 16 January 2023 The Bar
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Late last year, now-former Australian Bar Association president Dr Matt Collins KC said that barristers around the country should be “enormously proud” of how they managed their businesses and services to the courts during the age of coronavirus.

Now, following such turbulent times, those at the bar in Australia can and must be looking ahead to how best they can bolster their services in the new year — particularly when it comes to learning and development.

According to Victorian Bar president Sam Kay KC, the coming year “presents several opportunities for barristers”.


In most courts and tribunals, he said, there are large backlogs of cases to clear “and, in the main, in-person trials and applications are back”.

“Over the last few years, most barristers have had to learn new skills, particularly IT and document management skills. Returning to physical court on a consistent basis presents a significant opportunity to integrate those new skills into the way in which barristers prepare for and then conduct in-person hearings,” Mr Hay outlined.

Those skills, he opined, “can really enhance” the presentation of a client’s case.

“The year also presents as an opportunity to remind all of the participants in the justice system — judges, instructing solicitors, clients, and the public more generally — about the value and centrality of traditional trial processes,” Mr Hay continued.

“There is no doubt that barristers are at their best, and the whole system works best, when we are in physical court with an opportunity to test evidence and persuade decision-makers.”

The new president of the Australian Bar Association, Peter Dunning KC, agreed — noting that, especially for young barristers, there are always opportunities for skills development, career building, expanding networks and accumulating more courtroom “facetime” through making themselves available to their local Magistrates Court.

“There has been a significant backlog of work stemming from the pandemic and its ensuant shutdowns, affording barristers in 2023 the opportunity to apply themselves to more work, either on a paid or pro-bono basis,” he detailed.

“With more experience, the broader their scope of experience is. Having said that, much of a barrister’s work is performed outside the court.”

The new year, Mr Dunning went on, also presents us with the opportunity to hone our skills at in-person advocacy, “now that we have fully returned to our workplaces”.

“As bar members, we should continually ensure that for all technology’s benefits, we do not overly rely on them, as doing so has the potential to compromise the integrity of the court process,” he submitted.

“Justice needs to be administered in an open forum, and one which is accessible to all. Being in-person also affords junior barristers the best opportunity to learn from the examples as set by their senior colleagues.”

Last year, Lawyers Weekly discussed, on an episode of LawTech Talks, what the barrister of the future will look like and also detailed what an award-winning barrister looks like.

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