The NSW Bar Association has elected a new president, following the decision of outgoing president Michael McHugh SC to step down.
Late last week, Mr McHugh announced that “the time is right” for him to step aside and allow the Bar Council to “chart a new course”.
At a meeting of the state’s Bar Council earlier this evening (Thursday, 12 May 2022), Gabrielle Bashir SC was elected as the new president.
The office-bearers of the NSW Bar Association are now: Ms Bashir as president, Dr Ruth Higgins SC as senior vice-president, Dominic Toomey SC as junior vice-president, Michael Izzo SC as treasurer, and Nicholas Broadbent as secretary.
Ms Bashir was admitted as a lawyer in 1996, before joining the NSW Bar in 2000. She was appointed senior counsel in 2014.
She is a member of Forbes Chambers, practising across numerous areas of law, including criminal, appellate and administrative.
At the Thursday evening meeting, the council resolved by acclamation to award life membership of the NSW Bar Association to Mr McHugh “for exceptional service to the Bar Association and to the profession of law”.
In his final message as president to Bar Association members, Mr McHugh wrote: “Thank you all for the honour I have had serving as your president. I congratulate the new leadership of the Bar Council and wish them well.”
Mr McHugh has, in addition to stepping down as president, resigned from the Bar Council in accordance with the association’s constitution. Andrew Stone SC is filling the now-vacant position.
On Friday, 13 May, NSW Chief Justice Andrew Bell released a statement, with his honour expressing his “thanks and congratulates [Mr McHugh] for his significant contribution to the bar and the administration of justice not only during his term as president but for many years prior to that”.
“The Bar Association plays a critical role in the legal profession in New South Wales and the wider administration of justice. It does so at many levels including in relation to the training and induction of new barristers into the profession, the continuing education of barristers, their well-being physically, emotionally and professionally and the regulation of their ethical conduct. In addition, the Bar Association regularly comments upon contentious legislation and the efficient operation of the courts in New South Wales,” his honour espoused.
“Those who serve the Bar Association, whether through its many committees, in its educational function or on the Bar Council, are to be applauded for their commitment to the profession, and through that service, to the wider community. Their work is selfless but invaluable.
“Michael McHugh SC has been one of the Bar Association’s great servants for the last two decades. His service and commitment to the profession, especially through the trying period of the pandemic, is to be admired and applauded.
“It is to be hoped that, as the profession returns to normal, Mr McHugh’s commitment to the health and well-being of the profession inspires its younger members to engage and fully participate in the activities of the Bar Association and the bar more widely.”