find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Cunneen slams ‘highly partisan’ NSW Bar Association

Cunneen slams ‘highly partisan’ NSW Bar Association

Margaret Cunneen

Barrister Margaret Cunneen SC has taken fire at the NSW Bar Association in an open letter to members, calling its recent public statements “overtly ideological”.

In her letter, Ms Cunneen warned against the “increasingly partisan manner in which the NSW Bar Association has been involving itself in politics and the daily media cycle”.

“I do not believe it is in the interests of the profession for our peak body to maintain an overtly ideological and partial stance,” she wrote.

“Also, it is impossible for the Bar Association to do this while remaining representative of all its members.”

According to Ms Cunneen, the role of the bar association is to be a “sensible and constructive participant in law reform”.

“It has never been, and should not be, a soap box for senior members of Bar Council,” she said.

She pointed to a number of examples of what she described as “highly partisan forays into the public arena”, including a press release in October last year accusing then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott of inciting racial hatred.

In addition, she pointed to the association’s public statement criticising Mr Abbott in the wake of his negative comments on the Carmichael mine case decision.

By contrast, she claimed, the association was slow to criticise leader of the opposition Bill Shorten for attacks directed at Trade Unions Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon.

“When something was finally done to express support for our colleague, the gesture had become meaningless,” she said.

Her criticism also focused on the association’s public comments that many barristers have “ignorant and offensive” attitudes towards the advancement of women and called the association’s claim that female barristers earn less than their male counterparts “misleading”.

“I agree it is important for the NSW Bar Association to help female barristers – just as it should help all barristers,” she said. “However, I do not believe the situation is improved by unfair portrayals of the NSW Bar as a milieu that is both sexist and apparently, also, 'ignorant' and 'offensive' in its sexism.”

Overall, she warned the NSW Bar Association’s current approach meant its credibility was “disintegrating rapidly”.

“Without being too prescriptive, I suggest a media protocol should be introduced, and amendments made to the constitution of the Bar Association,” she said.

“The purpose of this would be to ensure that neither the Presidency of the Bar Association – nor any other position in the organisation – can be used as a platform for the unilateral expression of ideological and personal views, as distinct from policies that have been adopted by the entire Bar Council in properly convened meetings of Bar Council.”

When contacted by Lawyers Weekly, the NSW Bar Association was unwilling to comment on this letter.

Ms Cunneen was recently embroiled in a controversy with ICAC, which ultimately concluded with the High Court blocking the body’s investigation of allegations against her.

Like this story? Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive Lawyers Weekly every day straight to your inbox.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Cunneen slams ‘highly partisan’ NSW Bar Association
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...