Opening of Law Term Dinner 2017



I had the pleasure of being Master of Ceremonies at the Opening of Law Term dinner on 1 February 2017. It’s an important event in the legal calendar. I therefore want to share with you some of the comments I made on that occasion.

A brief introduction

The opening of law term is an opportunity to reaffirm the values that guide our practice of the law. These values include:

  • access to justice,
  • equality before the courts, and
  • the rule of law.

It is fitting that we have an occasion to reaffirm these ideals which are fundamental to the law and its place in a just society.

It is fitting that we do so at the beginning of a new court year, in this place, the heart of our historic Parliament, as these ideals apply to all our arms of government. The ideals transcend politics and generations. They form the fabric of our society.

It’s for this reason that this event is special to us. You are welcomed heartily to the 54th Opening of Law Term Dinner.

The Chief Justice of New South Wales

Within the legal profession, we take an oath to faithfully serve the administration of justice in this State. There is no person more profoundly entrusted with that administration of justice than our Guest of Honour, the Chief Justice of New South Wales. He has served in that position since 2011.

But it is timely to reflect on the importance that the Office of the Chief Justice holds — not only to our court system but to the State as a whole. Indeed, the first Chief Justice, Sir Francis Forbes, exercised such an influence on the State that the Governor of the day, Sir Thomas Brisbane, wrote that “since the arrival of the Chief Justice, the state of the Colony has assumed a new tone.” Forbes’ term began in 1823. Over 193 years later, the seventeenth Chief Justice graces us this evening.

It was the Office of Chief Justice of New South Wales that formed the focal point for this State’s first Opening of the Law Term Dinner in 1964. English Opening of Law Term dinners had typically honoured the Lord Chancellor. New South Wales’ solicitors wanted to honour our equivalent: the Chief Justice.

The 1964 President of the Law Society, Mr Barry McDonald, explained that a gift was made to the English Lord Chancellor at the opening of each legal year – traditionally a pair of gloves. In the absence of a Lord Chancellor, the Law Society gave the Chief Justice his own pair of white kid gloves, embossed in gold bullion.

These gloves were tendered to the then Chief Justice, the twelfth Chief Justice of NSW, Sir Leslie Herron, on a black velvet cushion. They had been embroidered with the Law Society crest by the same tailor who had embroidered Queen Elizabeth the Second’s coronation gown.

These events are known to us because that very first Opening of Law Term Dinner, in early

February 1964, was reported in the very first edition of the Law Society Journal published in February 1964. I expect that this event will also be reported in a coming edition of the Law Society Journal, but I confess Chief Justice that the actions of the Law Society of 1964 have been too hard an act to follow. It’s also useful that it was so long ago that no-one now recalls the grandness of that gesture; it’s hoped that this omission can go unnoticed.

But I do wish to convey to you, Chief Justice, the immense sense of honour we feel by you emulating Sir Leslie Herron, and your predecessors since then, by attending to mark the important occasion of a new legal year[1].

Pauline Wright, President of the Law Society of New South Wales in 2017

As a new law term opens, 2017 also brings with it a new year of leadership in the Law Society of New South Wales, as we welcome a new President. Tonight’s dinner presents an opportunity for the President to introduce herself to the profession in a formal capacity, presenting a blueprint for the full year of work ahead.

I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of serving on the Law Society Council alongside Pauline Wright for over six years, but Pauline’s service much surpasses mine. Pauline has served on the Council almost continuously since 1996.

A Principal at P.J. Donnellan and Co in Gosford, Pauline is an Accredited Specialist in Local Government and Planning Law. She chairs the Law Society’s Environmental Planning & Development Law Committee and is Deputy Chair of the Future Committee.

She’s been a longstanding chair of the Criminal Law Committee. During the time I’ve been on Council Pauline has been an authoritative voice for the Society and the profession on important and usually contentious changes to the criminal justice system.

As my fellow Councillors and I can attest, Pauline is a woman of many talents. She may well be the first theatre director, producer and performer to serve in the role of Law Society President.

We look forward to learning more about Pauline’s vision. If I have understood the Law Society’s history correctly, Pauline is the 73rd person to hold the office of President since 1884, the eleventh country practitioner to do so[2].

Darryl Browne[3]

[1] The Chief Justice’s address can be found at

[2] Pauline Wright’s address can be found at

[3] Darryl Browne is the principal of BROWNE. Linkenbagh Legal Services. He is an Accredited Specialist in Wills and Estates and a Notary Public. He is the Chair of the Law Society’s Ethics Committee. He has been a member (2010- 2014, 2016), Chair (2014) and Deputy Chair (2016) of the Elder Law and Succession Committee. He is a Councillor of the Law Society, a member of the Specialist Accreditation Board, the Property Law Committee, the Criminal Law Committee, the Fidelity Fund Management Committee, the Disclosure Committee, the Future Committee, the Working Group on Future Prospects for Young Graduates and the Working Group on Elder Abuse. He is a member of the Law Council of Australia’s Elder Law and Succession Committee and its Working Group on Elder Abuse. He is a member of the Legal Aid Commission Board and the University of Sydney’s Law Extension Committee. He writes bi-monthly Case Notes on wills and estates for LSJ and occasional other articles for that and other journals. He facilitates the Law Society’s online Wills and Probate Procedures for Solicitors. He designed and presents the Masterclass on Powers of Attorney. He is a member of STEP and SMSF Association. The opinions expressed in this article are his own.

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