There are occasions when it is necessary to follow the leader but sometimes we must stand up and be counted, says Justice Carmody
November 20, 2007: LAWFUEL – Australia Legal Jobs & News – The Hon Justice Timothy Carmody, Regional Coordinating Judge, Queensland, Family Court of Australia, told recipients of The College of Law Queensland’s Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice that graduation was an important milestone in the ongoing and seemingly endless journey of learning.
He reminded graduates that the law was central to the lives of people and dealt with hard ethical and moral questions such as guilt and retribution, freedom and obligation, pains and penalties, rights and wrong, claim and denial.
“The perennial challenge for you from now on is to narrow the gap between the day to day skills as well as ethical standards required of modern legal practitioners,” he said.
“”You hold a position of power and trust. It is also about making choices.”
Justice Carmody referred to the recent Mohamed Haneef case, where the power of the State acting in the interest of public safety collided head on with the “democratic rights and civil liberties of a non-Australian resident doctor”.
He said the lawyers representing Haneef “represented their client fearlessly against great odds and won a stunning victory because they had the law, fairness and democratic principles of equality on their side”.
Justice Carmody reminded graduates that it was easy to fall for flattery, become conceited or take a wrong turn in eagerness to please.
“If something doesn’t feel quite right, it probably isn’t,” he said.
“Always prefer the principled position over the expedient. Pleasing clients and meeting their expectations – which aren’t always realistic – or fulfilling their commercial needs must be accomplished strictly within ethical frameworks.”
Justice Carmody also commented on the high cost of civil litigation and the “intolerable delay” of the criminal list.
“When time is money it’s going to be expensive. The cost of litigation is almost out of reach of the majority of people,” he said.
“Popular barristers are so dear they probably can’t afford their own fees.”
Justice Carmody reminded students of the importance of balancing their professional lives with their personal lives, warning of the dangers of overwork.
He said the attributes of high achievers were both strengths and weaknesses – strengths because they are the drivers of achievement, weaknesses because of the potential consequences such as depression and anxiety.
“These attributes allow us to leave humble beginnings and scale the obstacles or barriers to success. Most current members of the High Court, for example, did not come from wealthy or privileged backgrounds.”
“However success comes at a cost. My advice to you is work to live, don’t live to work. Work hard but not too hard. On your deathbed you will not be wishing that you’d spent just a few more hours at the office or in the lab.”
Winner of the Queensland Law Society Prize for Overall Excellence, Michael Grosser of DLA Phillips Fox, said Justice Carmody’s comments were a reminder of the foundation stones upon which the legal profession was built.
“Justice Carmody reminded us of our ethical obligations and principles and the importance of ensuring that we lead enriching lives both professionally and personally,” he said.
“A particular theme that resonated for me was the value of ensuring we experience diversity, whether expressed as equilibrium between our professional and personal lives or as a range of experiences within our legal practice.”
Mr Grosser reminded graduates that no profession was an island and law was particularly enmeshed within the fabric of society.
“I encourage you to embrace the opportunities that will come your way to work with different people, from varying professions and diverse backgrounds,” he said.
“These experiences will provide you with new skills and knowledge and, most importantly, new ways of approaching the challenges and problems we will face each day in practice.”
The formal graduation ceremony also recognized the academic achievements of College graduates with Scott Hazell, DLA Phillips Fox, awarded the Pen Shoppe Prize for Professional Responsibility as the student who achieved the highest mark in the Professional Responsibility exam in the Queensland Professional Program over a one year period.
Michael Grosser, DLA Phillips Fox, was awarded the Queensland Law Society Prize for Overall Excellence as the student who obtained the highest aggregate of marks over all subjects of the Queensland Professional Program over a one year period.
The College of Law Queensland is a joint venture between The College of Law and the Queensland Law Society and offers both practical legal training and the Trainee Admission Program as paths to admission in Queensland. The College of Law Queensland is committed to being at the forefront of training technology offering online programs and catering to distance education. More information can be found at www.collaw.edu.au