Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy

by Maille Halloran

Author and poet Thomas Hardy served as a Justice of the Peace in Southern England for over thirty years. His period of public service was complemented by a sincere fascination for the law, especially divorce and the law’s effect on women. Merely glancing at the blurb of Hardy’s novels would reveal a preoccupation with the anguish of separation, particularly for female protagonists such as Tess. Hardy presided over many cases which provided the fodder for his fiction. He also sought such cases out, through courtroom visits and correspondence with High Court judges and officials.

A legal reading of Hardy’s novels will supply all the information needed for an adversarial trial. Take Tess where the agency, consent and will of the “pure woman” are all debated in the context of Alec’s assault. Hardy explores the established Victorian distinction between rape and seduction suggesting that while legally, the lines may be blurred, morally they are not. This is just one example of the author criticising the legal absurdities of the Victorian era.

Charlie Pickering

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by Maille Halloran

Charlie Pickering of ‘The Project’ and ‘The Weekly’ fame was once a lawyer. This is unsurprising given the political and legal conundrums Pickering tackles each week in his news satire program on the ABC. Marriage Equality, Foreign Aid, Indigenous Incarceration and the Federal Budget are just some of the big issues the former lawyer has addressed in the first nine episodes of ‘The Weekly’.

Pickering graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor in Arts and Laws. Just as it was for the Monty Python crew, law school was the perfect launching pad for Pickering’s comedy career with many opportunities to star in law revues.

Despite the introduction to comedy at university, Charlie did not graduate to a career as a comedian. Pickering left a job at a large law firm in favour of (initially) a lack of a job in comedy. It was not long though before the lawyer turned comedian became an Australian household name, after appearing as team captain on ‘Talkin’ Bout Your Generation’ hosted by Shaun Micallef, incidentally another former lawyer. Putting his fame to good use, Pickering also acts as an ambassador of the ‘Our Watch‘ organisation, taking a passionate stand against violence against women.

Pickering is now married to a lawyer who works in New York City.

Andrea Bocelli

by Maille Halloran

Andrea Bocelli

For world renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli, music was a passion that also paid the bills. The prodigy played piano in bars in order to afford both singing lessons and his law studies at the University of Pisa. Bocelli grew up a musical virtuoso, learning the piano, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, drums and flute from an early age. At the age of 12, after an accident during a game of soccer, Bocelli lost his sight. Bocelli’s impaired vision did not however, affect his musical talent. The next instrument the young man trained in was his voice.

As a young adult, Andrea Bocelli studied law at the University of Pisa, one of Italy’s oldest established law schools. After graduating as a Doctor of Law, he practised for one year as a state-appointed attorney before leaving the law to study singing with tenor Franco Corelli. When asked why he had decided on a career change, Bocelli said “I don’t think one really decides to be a singer – other people decide it for you by their reactions.”

Image courtesy of: Well Tempered

Franz Kafka

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It’s no surprise that a lawyer authored literary masterpieces ‘The Trial’ and ‘The Castle’ (no relation to the Australian legal comedy of the same name). Franz Kafka’s novels explore bureaucracy, inequity and legality. In his writings, the law is often seen to misapply justice. Kafka had an insight into the legal system, working as an insurance lawyer and writing in his spare time. His ambivalence about the law could perhaps be attributed to a resentment that his ‘day job’ kept him from pursuing his real passion. The often dark tone of his writing could also have been inspired by his working life. Kafka’s second job in the law involved assessing victims of (often gruesome) industrial accidents for worker’s compensation.

A young Franz Kafka studied law in Prague. There he met fellow law student Max Brod who, after the death of his friend, was to write Kafka’s biography. Kafka’s fame can be said to have come about through a legal misdeed. The author was fairly unknown during his lifetime and most of his work was published posthumously when Brod (the executor of Kafka’s will) ignored the author’s request to destroy all his manuscripts. Instead, Brod meticulously edited, rearranged and readied the author’s writings for publication and eventual critical acclaim.

Adam Bandt

by Maille Halloran

 Adam Bandt

Adam Bandt is one of a kind. He remains the only Greens MP in the Australian lower house, the first Greens MP to win the historic seat of Melbourne, and the first Greens MP to spend more than a term in the House of Representatives.

Bandt studied Law and Arts in Perth and practised for a decade as an Industrial lawyer, mainly representing lower-paid workers.

Bandt later moved to Melbourne to complete a PhD at Monash University. In the midst of the ‘War on Terror’ Bandt sought to understand the trend of 21st century governments suspending the rule of law in a climate of increasing globalisation. His conclusion was that governments have begun to ignore the existence of immutable human rights, such as equality before the law and the right to seek asylum.

Politics seems a foreseeable move from industrial advocacy and a thesis which argued for government’s promotion of inviolable human rights. Bandt’s term in parliament has been characterised by strong support for the Science and Research communities of Melbourne as well as Melbourne’s young student population.

 

Image: http://archive-vic.greens.org.au

Peter Garrett

by Maille Halloran

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The résumé of notable Australian Peter Garrett is extensive. The Midnight Oil front man is a rock icon and former Federal politician. Garrett also happens to be a lawyer.

Garrett studied arts at the Australian National University (ANU) and later law at the University of New South Wales. Despite a strong passion for politics and social justice, Garrett realised that a career in the law was not suited to him.

Garrett joined Midnight Oil and the band used their music and performances to publicise issues they felt passionate about: the environment, indigenous land rights, homelessness and nuclear disarmament to name a few.

Garrett began a move into the political arena, co-founding and running as a candidate for the Nuclear Disarmament Party in 1984. His next move was to lead the Australian Conservation Foundation for over a decade in two separate stints as president.

Garrett’s move to the Labor party was met with criticism by many of his former ‘radical’ allies. Garrett, however, defended his commitment to more conservative policies by claiming he saw more benefit in working within the system than agitating from the outside.

Garrett retired from parliament in 2013 after the dramatic events of the second Labor leadership spill.

 

Image: www.capitolproductions.com

Ada Evans

by Maille Halloran

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Ada Evans was born in England into a family with a background in professional law. After moving to New South Wales, Evans graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts. After becoming increasingly aware of the chauvinism of a legal system driven entirely by the opposite sex, Evans enrolled in tertiary studies again, this time at the Sydney University Law School, with the intention of endorsing female influence in a male dominated industry.

It has been said that Evans’ successful enrollment was a fluke, as the law school’s first dean was absent at the time of her application, which he would likely have rejected. In 1902 Ada Evans became Australia’s first female law graduate.  Evans completed her degree even though the state’s law at the time would not allow her to practise upon graduation.

Delays in changes to the legislation of her home state meant Evans was not the first woman in Australia to be admitted to practise. That title was reserved instead for Flos Greig in Victoria. After the eventual introduction of an enabling act, Evans was the first woman in NSW to be admitted to the bar.

Evans declined her first brief, citing poor health, family commitments and the long interlude between her graduation and her admission to the bar. Although she never worked as barrister, Ada Evans no doubt inspired and paved the way for women across the nation to assume the mantle.

Gina Liano

by Maille Halloran

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This month we make a slight departure from the theme of former lawyers in favour of an Australian barrister recognised more widely without her wig than with it. It will be no surprise to gossip magazine readers or Reality TV viewers that ‘Real Housewives of Melbourne’ star Gina Liano is currently a practising Criminal Barrister. The glamorous tall poppy’s fifteen year law career is taking a back seat as filming of the second series of ‘Housewives’ takes place. This does not mean that Liano’s courtroom prowess is going to waste. Liano has claimed that her assertive response to bullying by her co-stars on the television program was second nature after practising as a barrister for so long. Tensions in the show however could possibly be attributed to Liano’s legal career. Fellow ‘housewives’ have said that Liano sent them legal threats via email during the filming of their first season. According to Liano this was all a misunderstanding, she had merely copied her co-stars into an email sent to producers requesting that they not seek to portray her relationship break-up in a negative light. Liano says she was protecting her character from assassination and her relationship from scrutiny the best way she knew how, using the law.

Jerry Springer

by Maille Halloran

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Jerry Springer once went relatively unnoticed in an adversarial system. The same cannot be said since his brawl-concentrated talk show garnered worldwide fame. Springer gained a Juris Doctor degree from Northwestern University before making the customary leap from law to politics.

Springer worked as an aide to another former lawyer Robert F. Kennedy during his presidential primary campaign. Robert had been appointed as US Attorney General after his brother, John F. Kennedy became president. This appointment was controversial as the Attorney General-designate had little experience in private practice. When challenged by a vocal Republican senator that he had never negotiated a settlement or litigated a case for breach of contract or a pursuit of damages, Robert Kennedy replied “I doubt if I am going to be doing that as Attorney General”.

After Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1968 Jerry Springer worked in a large firm in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was also in Cincinnati that Springer progressed from political adviser to political candidate, serving as city councilman and later as mayor.

Springer’s next move was to television. The Jerry Springer Show underwent a dramatic shift of tone in its early days. Beginning as a talk show which discussed law reform, politics and social issues, the show soon favoured sensationalist topics that guaranteed a ratings boost.

Henri Matisse

by Maille Halloran

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Were it not for an encounter with oil paints during a period of illness Henri Matisse might never have been a household name. Before the artist discovered what he dubbed his ‘calling’, Matisse studied and worked as a lawyer. In 1887, Matisse left his family home in the extreme north of France for Paris to study the law. This move was prompted by a desire to please his father rather than any real passion for the profession.

Matisse passed the bar a year later with distinction and began to practice. After gaining his qualification, the artist returned to his hometown to work as a court administrator. Matisse’s proactive father also arranged for his son to clerk in a solicitor’s office.

Matisse’s life as a lawyer was brief. In 1889 the artist suffered an attack of appendicitis which left him bedridden and unable to work. Matisse’s mother, who worked selling house paints, brought her son a set of paints to help pass the time. Matisse adopted art as his profession and never looked back.

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