Chief Justice recognises Newcastle's newest lawyers among best in the country

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

“Great lawyers are known to come out of Newcastle, and I am confident that today is no exception.”

These were the words spoken by the NSW Chief Justice, The Honourable Tom Bathurst, as 73 budding University of Newcastle law graduates and their families waited with bated breath before taking a formal oath of admittance to the Supreme Court.

For the first time in 25 years, Newcastle was proud to welcome the Chief Justice and three of the state’s top judges to preside over the University’s annual admittance ceremony at City Hall this week, in which eligible graduates are formally confirmed as lawyers of the court.

In his speech, Chief Justice Bathurst said the University of Newcastle had consistently produced a flow of outstanding graduates.

“One of the reasons we have all come here today is to recognise the significant contribution the Newcastle profession and Newcastle Law School has made to the administration of justice and the rule of law, both generally, and particularly in the Hunter region.”

Chief Justice of NSW Tom Bathurst, Taylah Gray and Professor Tania Sourdin

Chief Justice the hon Tom Bathurst, Taylah Gray and Professor Tania Sourdin

The Chief Justice sat flanked by colleagues Justice Andrew Bell, President of the Court of Appeal; Justice Clifton Hoeben, Chief Judge at Common Law; and Novocastrian Justice Julie Ward, Chief Judge in Equity.

Dean of the University’s Law School, Professor Tania Sourdin, said the ceremony was a significant moment in the region’s history.

“To have New South Wales’ top judges here overseeing this ceremony is an incredible moment for our students, as well as considerable acknowledgement of our position as Australia’s leading clinical law school,” Professor Sourdin said.

“The University of Newcastle consistently produces some of the country’s most influential and impactful lawyers, and I am honoured to be here experiencing this moment with our newest cohort.”

Amongst the newly confirmed lawyers sat 24-year-old Wiradjuri woman Taylah Gray, whose efforts campaigning for Indigenous rights have already made headlines across Australia. Overturning a decision by NSW Police to ban a Black Lives Matter protest in Newcastle’s CBD in 2020, Taylah plans to continue her journey with the University as she completes a PhD on Native Title.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people from diverse cultural backgrounds continue to be alarmingly underrepresented in the legal profession,” Chief Justice Bathurst acknowledged.

“We will only achieve a truly diverse profession when barriers to advancement are broken down, and people from different backgrounds are properly supported in a collegiate and inclusive environment free from harassment and discrimination.”

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