I am 58 years old (or so I’m told).
I graduated in April 1986 from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Economics (Accounting) and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours). My Honours supervisor was John Bradsen (now, Bradman). Later that same year, I completed my Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies, then recently introduced as a substitute for Articles. I have since (1996) completed a Master of Laws. My dissertation supervisor was Andrew Ligertwood and the marker was Kevin Nicholson (now Nicholson J of the Supreme Court).
I was admitted in December 1986 as a member of a fused profession, a barrister and solicitor. I commenced practice as a solicitor at the moderately sized Adelaide practice of Aldermans in November 1986. My principal was Tony Abbott. I worked in general commercial litigation but was always trying to get on my feet in Court. In the early years, this was confined to Chamber arguments and small motor vehicle trials. However, Aldermans was an insurance defence practice and, before too long, I was taking two trials a week in the Industrial Court defending workers’ compensation claims.
In June 1988, Aldermans merged with another moderate Adelaide practice, the commercial, conservative firm of Piper Bakewell and Piper. The new firm was christened, Piper Alderman, and operated from the east end of Flinders Street in Adelaide. It was not the national firm it is today, having about 18 partners and about the same number of solicitors. From the beginning of the merger, the nature of the practice changed as it took on large commercial litigation, principally driven by Charles Bagot. In the period to my departure, I was fortunate to have bit parts in Paringa Mining & Exploration Co plc v North Flinders Mines Ltd, Crusader Resources NL v Santos Ltd and Beach Petroleum NL and Anor v Johnson & Ors.
By the end of my practice as a solicitor, I was largely a full-time in-house-Counsel although I would soon learn that this was no true substitute to being a specialist barrister. One of my last cases was the failed attempt to overturn a verdict that my client contended was unlawfully obtained, Monroe Schneider Associates Inc & Anor v Raberem No.1 Pty Ltd & Ors. That case would prove important later in the High Court’s determination of Clone Pty Ltd v Players Pty Ltd (in liq).
I joined the independent referral Bar in Adelaide at Bar Chambers in 1994. I acquired the Hon. Michael David’s interest at the oldest Chambers in South Australia when he left to start-up Christopher Legoe Chambers. I spent nearly the next decade there, mostly marked by a series of large pieces of commercial litigation; The Duke Group Ltd (in liq) v Pilmet & Ors, Southern Equities Corporation Ltd (in liq) v Arthur Andersen (the Bond Corp Case) and Harris Scarfes Ltd (R&M appointed) v PWC & Ors. In addition, I conducted the Coonawara Boundary Dispute, a GI case to define the Coonawara wine region. I regard this (to borrow from John Mortimer QC and the venerable Horace Rumpole) as my Penge Bungalow Murder, “alone and without a leader” when my friend and a mentor, Alan Sullivan QC, could not attend for the trial. These were followed with a long (eight month) conspiracy case in Hobart (R v Turner & Ors), prosecuted by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, which I took for jury experience but in which my client pleaded on the day the jury was to be arraigned. All of this gave me invaluable Court experience, the opportunity to work with excellent lawyers, solicitors and barristers, and taught me that challenges arise when you least expect them and are to met by doing the best that one can.
From 2006 to 2015 I practised principally from Commercial Chambers in Adelaide with my friend Craig McCarthy and later, Martin Hoile who came from Bar Chambers to join us. These were hard, exploratory years and included the trial in Harris Scarfes. About this time, I returned to work in the Northern Territory. I had some exposure to the Territory when at Aldermans (whom had a shop-front in Alice Springs). I joined William Forster Chambers and then Magayamirr Chambers, before the latter came to an end on the appointment of Raelene Webb QC to the Native Title Tribunal and I returned to WFC. I continue to visit Darwin for works as the need arises.
Also, about this time, I resumed my interest in intellectual property work (which commenced when working for Aldermans), litigious and non-litigious patent matters principally. Adelaide is no big enough to sustain a full-time practice in either, and so I continue to dabble, usually in wine, drugs and their incidents. Besides the Coonawarra Boundary Dispute, I appeared in AMC v Hamilton Pharmaceuticals (which concerned, among other things, multi-national trademarks), Mitolo Wines v V. Mitolo & Son and the copyright dispute to ownership of the design of the Aboriginal Flag.
I was appointed Senior Counsel by the Supreme Court of South Australia and took Silk in 2008. By reason of my commitment to an Australian Republic, I have declined the invitation to swap my post nominals for a Q.C.
I signed the Silks' Commitment upon its inception and I continue to adhere to its terms (as a bare minimum) to promote and use female juniors.
In 2015, I joined Brian Martin Chambers when my previous Chambers lost its physical home. For three years I was an honorary Barnett, sharing Chambers with Michael and Anne Barnett (and occasionally, Andrew Barnett).
In 2018, Brian Martin Chambers were asked to join with Jeffcott Chambers, then in the process of relocating from Gouger Street to our home on Flinders Street. Jeffcott is a common law set of diverse advocates practising in all areas; a good home for a generalist like myself. Our magnificent Chambers are widely admired.
I am actively involved in the South Australian Bar Association and I am presently its Immediate Past President. I was President from 2016 to 2018 and, before that, its Hon. Secretary from 1998 to 2004. I was the Chair of the Membership Committee for nearly 10 years. I have been a member since 2005 and I have sat on its Council since 1998 (save for the passage of two years in or about 2009-10).
I was the inaugural the Chair of the Bar Readers’ Executive, which took over as the body responsible for the delivery of its Bar Readers' Course to train advocates coming to the Bar in South Australia. I was a member of the Committee that administered the Course from its inception in 2002. I remain a member of the BRE.
I was appointed the Chair of the Australian Bar Association’s Advocacy Training Council in 2016 and, in that capacity, I am ex officio member of the Australian Bar Council and its Executive. I have been a member of the ABA since 2005. The ATC provides voluntary advocacy coaching for the whole of the Australian Bar in specialist Courses.
I am a director of the Australian Advocacy Institute. It is a not-for-profit company whose objects include the teaching of written and oral advocacy to legal practitioners in common law jurisdictions, but particularly in Australia. I am a regular teacher of advocacy for the SABA, ABA and AAI. This includes coaching in Australia and overseas, including at Kebel Colle