These are general questions. I have some solicitor-specific information here.

What is a barrister?

Barristers specialise in court work and advice. Their independence is vital to our system of justice. It ensures legal representation for everyone, without fear or favour. Barristers cannot form any business association with partners which might compromise, or even appear to compromise, that independence. Nor are they tied to any particular client. A barrister can appear for a company or the government one day and against it the next.

Sir Owen Dixon on his swearing in as Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia made some remarks which I think are important in understanding the work of a barrister:

The Bar has traditionally been, over the centuries, one of the four original learned professions. It occupied that position in tradition because it formed part of the use and the services of the Crown in the administration of justice. But because it is the duty of the barrister to stand between the subject and the Crown, and between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, it is necessary that, while the Bar occupies an essential part in the administration of justice, the barrister should be completely independent and work entirely as an individual, drawing on his own resources of learning, ability and intelligence, and owing allegiance to none.

You could also look at the Wikipedia entry for a more general description about barristers around the world.

What kind of work do you do?

Click on About Me for a list of my current areas of work.

What are your qualifications?

BA(Hons), LLB(Hons), DIpEd, DIpLegPrac.

(Or, in longhand, I have a Bachelor of Arts (Honours), with class 2/1 Honours in English, a Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours, a Diploma in Education (awarded with merit), and a Diploma in Legal Practice.)

I have also been admitted as a Legal Practitioner of the Supreme Court of NSW, and am admitted to practice as a Solicitor and Barrister in the High Court of Australia.

I hold an unrestricted practicing certificate issued by the NSW Bar Association.

You can find out more about the requirements necessary to practice as a barrister in NSW here.

What does your QR code do?

It’s an electronic business card.

During the COVID restrictions, I also have the usual CovidSafe QR code at my chambers.

I heard you use a lot of technology – is that right?

Yes! I am very interested in most forms of technology, particularly those which might be of use and interest to the legal profession. I confess to being a gadget geek, and often look for ways to incorporate new ideas and technologies into my practise.

I am working on a related side project called Technocounsel.  The domains technocounsel.com.au and technocounsel.au will both lead you back here (for the moment).

The current work-from-home climate has had me looking at videoconferencing, audio and lighting technology, and getting deeper into Adobe Acrobat.

What is your fax number? The one I have doesn’t work. 

I don’t have one any more.

I have a legal problem – will you help?

Usually, the first thing you need to do is talk to a solicitor. You can visit the Law Society of NSW (if you are in NSW) or your local Law Society or Bar Association if you are elsewhere to find a solicitor who lives near you.

If you are in or near the Newcastle / Lake Macquarie / Maitland / Hunter Region / Central or Mid-North Coast areas, I can recommend several solicitors, but I cannot choose one for you.

When you have spoken to that solicitor, if my help is needed, that solicitor will send me a brief of instructions about your case. By all means mention my name to them – please! – but the person I usually take instructions from in the first instance should be a solicitor or an appropriately qualified and licensed legal professional.

You are really hard to get hold of / speak to on the phone.

Yes. I am often very busy.

I am also not a fan of blocked caller IDs. If you are calling from a number that does not give a valid caller ID (unfortunately that includes some people I really want/need to speak to, like Legal Aid), you have a better than average chance of going straight to voicemail.

Emailing me is a good way to make contact, however I return phone calls as soon as possible.