Jennifer Robinson: 2021 Hal Wootten Lecture
This is just the beginning of the work that I hope to do to continue Hal's legacy and contribute to a more just Australia. I can only hope that in the decades ahead that I can make a fraction of the contribution that Hal has, but imagine just what we could achieve if all of us aimed to do that.
Living Greatly in the Law: Law and Progressive Social Change
Throughout his life and career, the late Professor Hal Wootten encouraged law students to think about “living greatly in the law”: living and working with a passion for justice, seeing the law in its social context and ensuring that the law serves those most in need. Hal understood that the law can create positive social change and encouraged lawyers to seek out opportunities “to give a little nudge that sends the law along the direction it ought to go”, which – in turn, he wrote – “can affect where the world goes”.
In this lecture, Jen Robinson reflects on Hal’s legacy and the role of law in protecting human rights, addressing the climate crisis and contributing to progressive social change. Drawing on examples from her own practice and experience around the world, Jen will share her own journey, how she came to share and espouse Hal’s view about “living greatly in the law” and why it is more relevant now than ever before.
ABOUT THE HAL WOOTTEN LECTURE
The Hal Wootten Lecture was established in 2006 by the Faculty of Law & Justice in honour of founding Dean, Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten.
The annual lecture is a highlight of the faculty’s year and commemorates Hal Wootten's founding vision for the faculty – that ‘a Law school should have and communicate to its students a keen concern for those on whom the law bears harshly’. The 2021 lecture will be particularly poignant following Hal Wootten’s passing in July and the tremendous loss this has meant for Hal’s family, the faculty and broader community. The faculty is marking its 50th anniversary this year, a milestone that obviously invites reflection on Hal’s vision and remarkable legacy. The 2021 Hal Wootten Lecture will close our official anniversary celebrations and pay tribute to the values and inspiration offered by the faculty’s Foundation Dean.
Presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas and UNSW Law & Justice.
Jennifer Robinson is a human rights lawyer and Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in London. Jen has been instructed in domestic and international cases involving media law, public law and international law. She advises media organisations, journalists, whistle-blowers and high-profile individuals on all aspects of media law and reputation management. She has also been instructed in human rights related judicial review cases and has given expert evidence in Parliament and at the United Nations.
Jen advises individual and state clients on a wide range of international law issues, has appeared before the International Court of Justice and regularly engages with UN Special Mechanisms. Many of her cases and clients are high-profile and involve novel cross-jurisdictional and comparative law issues. Jen has also acted in judicial review proceedings before the Court of Appeal and High Court, including challenges to government policies related to climate change, fracking and the treatment of refugees.
Jennifer has acted in key free speech and freedom of information cases for clients such as the New York Times and Bloomberg. She is a member of the legal team for WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, having acted for Assange in extradition proceedings, advised WikiLeaks during Cablegate and worked with the Center for Constitutional Rights on United States v Bradley Manning. For more than a decade she has been involved in advocacy related to self-determination and human rights in West Papua. In 2008 the UK Attorney General recognised Jennifer as a National Pro Bono Hero. Jennifer was educated at the Australian National University and the University of Oxford where she was a Rhodes scholar. She writes for publications such as the Sydney Morning Herald and Al Jazeera.
Year of call: 2016 (2006 - Supreme Court of NSW, Australia)
Andrew Lynch (Host)
Professor Andrew Lynch is Dean at UNSW Law & Justice. He has previously served as Head of School and Deputy Dean. He teaches and researches in the field of Australian constitutional law. His research concentrates on the topics of federalism, judicial dissent, judicial appointments reform, and legal responses to terrorism.
Andrew is an author of Blackshield & Williams’ Australian Constitutional Law and Theory (6th ed, 2014; 7th ed, 2018), Australia's Greatest Judicial Crisis - The Tim Carmody Affair (2016), Inside Australia’s Anti-terrorism Laws and Trials (2014), What Price Security? Taking Stock of Australia’s Anti-Terror Laws (2006), and Equity and Trusts (2001 and 2005). He is a co-editor of the books Law and Liberty in the War on Terror (2007), Counter-Terrorism and Beyond: The Culture of Law and Justice After 9/11 (2010), Tomorrow’s Federation: Reforming Australian Government (2012) and the editor of Great Australian Dissents (2016).
Between 2008-2013, Andrew was the Director of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at UNSW and he continues to work on research housed within the Centre’s Judiciary Project. He is a member of the Council of the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.
Sonja Stewart (Acknowledgement of Country)
Sonja Stewart is a Yuin woman who was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Law Society of New South Wales in August 2020. Prior to this, Sonja was a Deputy Secretary within the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and before that, Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Public Service Commission.
Sonja is a UNSW graduate with Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce degrees. She is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has been a Chairperson and Board Director of Government, academic and not-for-profit boards for more than 20 years. She is currently the Chair of the Goodes O'Loughlin Foundation which aims to improve educational outcomes of Indigenous youth. She is also a director of Lawcover Insurance Pty Ltd providing professional indemnity insurance to NSW solicitors.
Andrea Durbach (Vote of Thanks)
Andrea Durbach is an Emeritus Professor of UNSW Law & Justice and was Director of the Australian Human Rights Centre (now Institute) from 2004-2017.
Born and educated in South Africa, she practised as a political trial lawyer and human rights advocate, representing victims and opponents of apartheid laws. After leaving South Africa, Andrea initially worked as a solicitor at Freehills Hollingdale and Page in Sydney before joining the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) as Head of Legal Practice, subsequently becoming PIAC's Executive Director. Andrea has held senior positions in the human rights field, including as Deputy Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner (2011-2012) and as a consultant to the Australian Defence Abuse Response Taskforce to develop a framework to address the needs of Defence Force victims of gender-based violence and to prevent harmful conduct. She is a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and in 2013, she was awarded the Australian Human Rights Commission Human Rights Law Award for her promotion and advancement of human rights in Australia through the practice of law.