In 1991, 75 students entered their classrooms at the University of Wollongong’s School of Law for the first time. As the very first cohort of students to begin their education at the fledgling law school, it was a daunting day. But a familiar face was there to greet them, a giant of the Australian legal system who wanted to wish the class well on its first day.
Justice Michael Kirby, a friend and colleague of the founding Dean of Law at UOW, Professor Jack Goldring, took the time to speak to the students and provide them with a few words of wisdom as they took their first step into the world of law.
Nearly three decades later, Justice Kirby continues to show his passion for nurturing the future legal minds of the nation, officially launching the School of Law at the University of Wollongong’s South Western Sydney Campus.
The law, Justice Kirby told the crowd at the launch, is a living, breathing thing; a legal profession made up of of diverse voices and perspectives can only strengthen its interpretation and expression.
“Much of the research conducted by Professor Jack Goldring showed that lawyers tend to come from privileged backgrounds,” he says. “Generally, throughout Australia, most lawyers come from wealthy parents, private and religious schools, and privileged postcodes.
“The law is not an ordinary job. It is an extraordinary profession. The values that lawyers bring into their professional lives affect the decisions they make in the course of their professional lives. It affects their explanation and expression of the law, it affects the way they solve controversies.”
Diversity inspires compassion and Justice Kirby says the cultural and socio-economic melting pot of Liverpool made the region the perfect base to discover the next generation of great legal minds.
The Honourable Justice Kirby, AC CMG, as he is now known, has become synonymous with social justice and fighting for the underdog. For more than 50 years, he has been at the vanguard of the fight to create a society that is equal, fair and kind to all.