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From the Dean

Erika TecheraWelcome to the latest edition of LawyerEd. The first half of 2015 has already seen an array of activities and achievements.

Our graduation ceremony in April was an outstanding evening celebrating the success of our students as well as one of our alumni through the award of an Honorary Doctorate to Sarah Beshar (nee Jones). 

Sadly, we also note the recent passing of Dr John Leslie Toohey AC QC - an alumnus and outstanding member of our legal community. Our first graduating class of JD students will complete their studies this semester and we wish them well both within and beyond the Law School. It was most gratifying to see our combined LLB-JD team succeed in the international round of the Jessup Moot competition in Washington DC, team and achievement of reaching the semi-finals in this prestigious global competition demonstrates the high quality of the participants.

Our staff have had considerable publication and grant success in a diverse range of areas including private and public, domestic and international law, as well as the scholarship of learning and teaching. We have continued to build our partnerships with other law schools and to work with peak legal education bodies. I was fortunate to be invited to give a keynote address at the European Law Faculties Association in Istanbul in April and Jacinta Dharmananda has participated on the CALD working group on teaching statutory interpretation.

Other highlights include John Fiocco’s recognition by the Law Council of Australia as "2015 Lawyer of the Year", and Professor Mark Israel’s appointment as Deputy Chair of the UWA Academic Board. Also, Dr Renae Barker, Dr Natalie Skead and Kate Offer have each received an award for excellence in teaching, from which our students will all benefit. I do hope you enjoy reading about some of our other activities in this newsletter.

Professor Erika J Techera, FAAL Dean of Law

Law School supports pro bono scheme

Law AccessThe University of Western Australia Law School has opened its doors in support of the Law Society of Western Australia’s Law Access scheme.  Law Access provides merit assessment of applications for pro-bono legal assistance in-house, referring meritorious matters to the profession.

Law Access also advises applicants where their matters are considered to have no or limited merit.  The scheme also acts as the gateway for the Western Australian Bar Association in relation to requests for pro bono assistance from counsel.

The initiative for this development dates back to early 2012 when the WA Public Interest Law Clearing House Reference Group was established by the Law Society of Western Australia and the Community Legal Centres’ Association of Western Australia with representation from across the WA legal profession including pro bono coordinators from a number of WA based law firm offices.  With funding from Lotterywest this group commissioned a feasibility study of pro bono models for Western Australia. A report by Kalico Consulting in August 2013 titled ” Doing the Public Good” that identified a number of constraints to growth, including the absence of a strategic proactive approach to pro bono work which is directed at responding to unmet legal need. 

In November 2013, the Law Society endorsed the recommendations presented to it by the Reference Group and decided to develop a business plan to explore the possible expansion of the existing Law Access Service as a “central pro bono clearing house service”.  The decision to incorporate a separate entity to manage the service was made in 2014.

The provision of premises within the UWA Law School to the Law Access program addresses one of the previous constraints to the growth of the program. Students of the Law School benefit from enhanced opportunities to gain professional experience, with four of the volunteering placements being made available allocated to UWA JD students. More information on Law Access can be obtained by contacting lawaccess@lawaccess.net.au, on (08) 6488 5683 for lawyers, courts and community workers and on 9324 8600 for new applicants.

Photo: Law Access Executive Manager Dominique Hansen (centre seated) and UWA students (L-R) Clare Tunney, Phillip White and Mallika Banerjee

Nicholas Tiverios awarded Peter Birks Memorial Scholarship

Nicolas TiverosNicholas Tiverios, who graduated from the Law School in 2011 with first class honours, has been awarded the inaugural Peter Birks Memorial Scholarship by University College London to study for a PhD on contractual penalties.

Peter Birks, who taught at UCL before becoming Regius Professor of Civil Law at Oxford, was the most outstanding legal scholar of his generation, known not only for his influential writings on unjust enrichment but also for his work on the classification of private law.

Peter Birks was a regular visitor to the UWA Law School, as is Professor Ben McFarlane, Nicholas’s PhD supervisor, and so it is fitting that the UWA connection has been perpetuated by the award of the scholarship to a UWA graduate. Nicholas will be exploring the underlying doctrinal justification for the law of penalties in the light of the recent High Court decision in Andrews v ANZ.  He will be giving a paper on this topic at the Contracts in Commercial Law Conference in Sydney in December. His long-term aim is to return to Australia as a law teacher.

After graduating from the Law School, Nicholas was the legal research officer at the High Court of Australia, working out of the chambers of the Chief Justice Robert French AC. He then went into legal practice, first working for an international commercial law firm and then with the Victorian Government Solicitor.. In 2014 he moved to England to study for the LLM at UCL, having been awarded the Sir John Salmond Scholarship as the top applicant from Australia and New Zealand. Nicholas’s wife Clare McKay, another distinguished Law School graduate, is now working as a solicitor in London following completion of the Oxford BCL, where she held the Peter Carter Scholarship in Law. She also worked at the High Court as associate to Justice Susan Crennan AC.

Photo: Nicholas Tiverios

Passion for education shared through scholarship

SaplingThe University of Western Australia’s Law School has been the recipient of a generous donation by Mr Denning Chong to provide a scholarship to encourage and assist a student, who is experiencing financial hardship, in their first year of study towards a Juris Doctor.

The James T Chong Award was established by Denning Chong (UWA LLB & BCom 2001) in memory of his father. James Chong was from a large family in Malaysia and studied hard to achieve his Law qualifications.  Originally his career path was a teacher but his passion and determination for Law, saw him sell English tutorial books to save for his Law degree.  Once he had saved enough, he attended Lincoln’s Inn in London.  He met his wife in the UK and they both returned to Malaysia.

After establishing a success business in Malaysia, the couple decided to start all over again and move their young family to Australia with the belief that Australia would offer a better future for their children.  James Chong built a successful law practice in Perth and this is now run by Denning Chong.  James retained his passion for education and continued to give back as an adjunct at the UWA Law School. 

Vale John Toohey AC QC

John Toohey

It is with sadness that we noted the passing of the Honourable Dr John Leslie Toohey AC QC, on 9 April 2015. Dr Toohey graduated from the UWA Law School in 1950, and became one of the most distinguished of our alumni.

After completing degrees in Arts and Law, he was admitted as a legal practitioner and also taught at UWA Law School. He went on to become one of the State's outstanding legal practitioners and one of the country's eminent jurists, with a long and distinguished career in law. A prominent feature of Dr Toohey's career was his long-standing concern for indigenous people, manifested firstly in his work for the Aboriginal Legal Service. He was appointed to the Federal Court in 1977, and also as inaugural Aboriginal Land Commissioner.  In 1985 he was appointed to the Constitutional Commission and in 1987 to the High Court of Australia, replacing Justice Lionel Murphy, and subsequently played a prominent part in the Mabo decision.

Dr Toohey retired from the bench in 1998 but served as a judge in the judicial system of Kiribati, and as a justice of the Supreme Court of Fiji after his retirement. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1986 and later a Companion of the Order of Australia. His career and contribution to public life are honoured by UWA Law School through the hosting of the John Toohey Oration held every two years. Dr Toohey is survived by his wife Loma, his children and grandchildren.

Photo: John Toohey AC QC

New Taxation Law program


As the needs of the profession evolve UWA Law School has worked to introduce courses designed to prepare individuals to meet these challenges. In 2016 the Law School will launch a new Taxation Law program and will offer specialised advanced level tax education in a number of technical areas.

Available as a one year full time Master’s degree and a shorter six month Graduate Diploma, the course has been structured to accommodate the majority of students who will complete it part time while working in the tax profession. Students have a choice between an overall specialisation in either ‘advanced domestic taxation’ or ‘international taxation’ and may select from units in Resource Tax, Advanced Corporate Tax, Transfer Pricing, Tax Dispute Resolution, Double Tax Agreements, Chinese Tax, Advanced CGT, Advanced GST, Not-For-Profits and Advanced Trust Taxation.

There is also the opportunity for students to undertake a research thesis and to select option units from some of UWA’s range of non-tax subjects. Teaching will be face to face, practically focussed and delivered by UWA’s experienced Tax law academics as well high level professionals with significant experience. Students who complete the Graduate Diploma have the option to articulate their studies into the Master course. A number of the units will also provide suitable study towards sitting the exams in the Advanced Diploma of International Tax offered by the Chartered Institute of Taxation in the UK.

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Blackstone Society's award winning work

Blackstone SocietyUWA Law School’s Blackstone Society has recently returned from the annual ALSA Conference where they won the award for the Best Contribution to Community for the fourth year in a row.  This is a credit to the work that they do in the spaces of Equity, Social Justice, Mental Health and Wellbeing. 

The committee were also given honourable mentions for the best Careers Publication, the best Equity Publication and the best Health and Wellbeing initiative. 

The President and Education Vice President, Dan Brice and Chris Burch were also jointly awarded the ALSA Presidents Award which recognises the efforts of ALSA council members.

Photo: ALSA award winners

Calling alumni in Canada

Canadian FlagUWA Law School will be attending the Canadian Study and Go Abroad Fairs in Ottawa (October 3) and Toronto (October 4).

Volunteers who would be interested in speaking to prospective students about their UWA experience and are asked to contact penny.carruthers@uwa.edu.au.