John Toohey Chambers were delighted to be the sponsor of the inaugural Family Law Practitioners' Association of WA (Inc) held in May 2014. Below is the text of the speceh given on behalf of Chambers at the Awards Dinner by Rod Hooper SC.
Your Honours, Chief Justice Martin, Chief Judge Thackray, Judge Cole, Magistrate Sutherland, Registrars De Maio and Forrest, nominees in respect of the awards to be presented this evening, colleagues and your partners.
Firstly I would like to express to FLPA the appreciation of the members of John Toohey Chambers for the opportunity for our Chambers to be the sponsor of this inaugural awards night.
Events such as these provide us all with a valuable opportunity to contemplate the work that we do and how we do it.
It is all too easy to disparage events such as this as some form of self-congratulatory ego building.
When engaged in the daily grind of practice, it is also too easy to be dismissive about the importance of the work we do and the difficult circumstances in which we do it.
If the practice of law is generally thought to be a mildly stressful occupation, then the stress involved in the practice of family law it must be seen to be off the Richter scale.
As practitioners, we have to deal on a daily basis with individuals who are usually highly emotional, often clinically depressed and inevitably overwhelmed financially by the circumstances in which they find themselves and whom require assistance to make some times the most basic and obvious decisions.
And then there are the litigants…
Seriously though, the work that we do is difficult. By that I mean to include not only solicitors and Counsel but also the judicial officers who grapple with litigants and Counsel, and our partners, some of whom are present, who have to deal with us at the end of the day.
A busy general list has many similarities with a major hospital emergency room on a Saturday evening. Just as the medical profession has its black humour, it is also the case that we are often blasé about our clients’ circumstances and our own stress.
The medical emergency waiting time might be measured in hours and our waiting times are measured in years, but in either case, they are unacceptable and the delay produces real stress for the patient/litigants.
In either case, the institution is routinely held together by the commitment and effort of a few individuals who have gone beyond what should be required of them to try and ensure that the system does not collapse entirely.
It is occasions such as these that give us an opportunity, perhaps assisted by some self-medication, to reflect upon the actions and efforts of some particular practitioners and how we may draw upon their example to inform and inspire our own conduct.
I hope that this is the first in what will become a regular event at which our colleagues and the contributions that they have made are honoured and acknowledged.
Finally, I would like to thank and congratulate Nicole Croft and the Family Law Practitioners Association Organising Committee for arranging this event.