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11 November, 2009  
Goings On ...

DPP Cowdery adrift in South Africa … The joys of legal education … Sydney Law School yearning for a rich name … Clarrie Stevens’ latest CV … No room for reptiles at the court

imageUnderway in Cape Town is the Heads of Prosecuting Agencies Conference.

This has mushroomed into a large and important event as chief prosecutors from the English speaking world gather to compare agendas, techniques, successes, failures and generally have a good old schmooze.

If you’re a DPP or something equivalent you’d be mad to miss this corroboree.

Indeed, eight DPPs from the nine Australian jurisdictions are attending (one can’t make it).

Of those eight, seven are sponsored by their respective governments.

Their business class (in one instance first class) airfares, accommodation and expenses are paid from their departmental budgets. They are attending on their governments’ paid time.

One DPP is travelling on his own time, using his leave entitlement. He’s paid for his own airfare and his expenses come from his own pocket.

Which one will hardly be a surprise.

Step forward NSW DPP Nicolas Cowdery.

This is the consequence of the visionary intervention that we’ve come to expect from the NSW Attorney General, Colonel Hatzistergos.

* * *

I’d like to share with you some of the take-home exam for the course known as “legal geographies” at the University of Sydney.

It is from one of the compulsory jurisprudence courses for fifth year students:


Answer ONE of the following three essay questions.

1. Annelise Riles has argued that ’[f]or the late nineteenth century international lawyer … scale was a fundamental, if unremarked, aspect of the disciplinary project’. How exactly is scale significant in and for law’s and lawyers’ ‘disciplinary project’ in your view? Develop your argument by reference to examples. Note that your essay need not be confined to the particular laws, lawyers or ‘disciplinary project’ on which Riles’ article focuses…

2. Art historian John Berger famously argued that ’[i]t is space, not time, that hides consequences from us.’ Legal scholar Reginald Oh has endorsed a modified version of this statement: ‘it is not that space hides consequences from us; but, rather, it is our_inattention to space_ that hides consequences from us’. Do you agree with either statement, both of these statements or neither statement? Develop your argument by reference to examples…

3. Nicholas Blomley has argued that ‘a legal category such as “citizen” is meaningless without the spatial category of “territory”.’ Yet Rosemary Rayfuse has observed that ‘international law already recognizes that sovereignty and nation may be separated from territory’. Can you imagine a legal notion of citizenship that doesn’t correspond to any particular territory? Explain how, if at all, such deterritorialized citizenship could potentially work, highlighting difficulties and opportunities that might be associated with legal realisation of such an idea…”

There are such wonders in a modern legal education.

* * *

Talking of University of Sydney Law School – what is to become of the old faculty building on the corner of Phillip and King Streets?

imageIt’s preserved in aspic for educational purposes, according to the trust that governs the use of the prize city site.

To that end a few academics have quietly moved back there, not being overly grabbed by the $80 million new law school on campus (seen here) and, in particular, the lack of access to decent CBD coffee.

Some space in the Phillip Street pile is also being used by PILCH (Public Interest Law Clearing House) and RACS (Refugee Advice and Casework Service).

All of this activity takes up one floor of the building. The other 12 are quietly rotting away under the drifting eye of the Sydney Uni senate.

Someone at the university thought it might be handy to get ideas about the purpose to which the old building could be put.

The most frequently mentioned proposal that emerged was that it might be a good place for a law school.

Meanwhile, back on campus faculty members at the gleaming new law factory were asked to scratch their heads and come up with a name for the hall of leaning.

“The Garfield Barwick Law School … The Anthony Mason Law School … The Julius Stone Law School” were all possibilities.

In the final analysis, management decided to put a hold on an internally sourced suggestion because a rich plutocrat or bloated corporate citizen might step up to the plate, induced by the lure of naming rights.

After all, just about every urinal and bidet in the place has a sponsor and Alan Bond has an entire university named after him.

The possibilities are exciting: The Crown Casino School of Law … The Macquarie Bank Law Faculty … Keddies Law … The Turnbull Foundation Workshop … The Neville Wran Complex.


* * *

Glad to see Clarrie Stevens (ex-Syd Bar ‘n’ Grill) has a gig at an outfit called Short Term Advantage.

The company promises to utilise its “extensive knowledge and experience … to guarantee a solution in (sic) any form of financial problem you may have”.

The STA team “accumulates over 400 years of experience in the financial/banking sector”.

Here’s Clarrie’s web site CV (with a liberal adornment of capitals):

“Clarrie had experience as a Corporate Counsel before becoming a Barrister. He practiced as a Barrister for over 20 years, including over 10 years as Queens Counsel (QC). He was a QC before he was 40, which speaks for itself. His practice was in commercial law and associated areas, in nearly all Australian states plus time in Hong Kong, Singapore, USA and in concert with Counsel in UK for some matters.

One of his strengths was as a Negotiator. He is particularly skilled in seeing many different facets of problems and devising lateral strategies.”

Isn’t there something missing from this impressive bio?

* * *

imageThe initials RAP on documents and missives at Allens used to be a familiar occurrence.

The former managing partner (Ronald) Adrian Powles died last year.

For a long time his name was scarcely mentioned at Allens. He nearly brought the firm to its knees after some ill-fated punting with a large slap of clients’ money.

Nowadays RAP stands for Reconciliation Action Plan.

It’s Allens’ contribution to “closing the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians” and comes under the umbrella of the firm’s community work.

Finally, RAP is back in vogue at the great law shop.

* * *

Bit-by-bit the new makeover at the Joint Law Courts building in Queens Square is being revealed.

imageLet’s hope Supreme Court 9C is not a prototype of what’s in store.

That’s the refurbished court where Gacic v Fairfax is being heard.

The case is one of the leading distractions in town at the moment as Serbian restaurateurs battle The Sydney Morning Herald over a scathing review by food critic Matthew Evans (pic).

The Gazette of Law & Journalism has the drum.

In the new courtroom there are no more than ten seats available for the public and the press, with no folding table tops for writing.

Once the usual bunch of snoring and muttering tricoteuse have taken their place there is no room for a contingent of reptiles.

One of Rupert’s hacks had to sit on the floor to scribble his notes during the libel trial before Justice (Hormones) Harrison.

You’ve got to wonder what’s going on. The refurbishment of the Queens Square complex will cost well over $300 million by the time it’s finished.

For that money the state and federal governments could have torn down the entire Lubyanka-style edifice and put up something half-decent.


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