National firm Sparke Helmore Lawyers has announced the appointment of former Federal Circuit Court of Australia judge Kenneth Raphael as a consultant in the government team.
Raphael was one of the original 12 appointments to the Federal Magistrates Court when it was created in 2000.
There, he undertook the general federal work of the Court in Sydney, with circuits to Adelaide, Perth and Darwin. He retired as a judge this month.
Raphael told Australasian Lawyer
that his practice of law in Australia has been a 37 year journey after arriving here from the UK, where he was a commercial litigator, in 1977.
After working for Geoffrey Edwards and running three Supreme Court cases a week for two years, he joined Holman Webb where he worked for 10 years, becoming a partner.
During that time Raphael took three cases to the High Court, two of which - UVC V Brian and Todorovic v Waller – still have relevance today.
He later joined the partnership of Rosenblum & Partners (which has since merged with Blakes) and his insolvency practice there boomed thanks to the economic downturn in Australia.
“At this time I was a longstanding member of the Law Society’s litigation law and practice committee and I drafted the society’s response to the proposed legislation setting up the Federal Magistrates Court. We were not in favour. So I was surprised when I received a call in January 2000 asking me if I was interested in a position on the court,” he says.
“I declined, as I thought I would be required to do a large amount of family law, which I am not comfortable with. But [I] was approached again in May on the basis that I would be doing general federal law. I accepted and I remained happily here until July 2014. After the court was given migration jurisdiction I worked solely on these cases.”
After reaching the age of 70 this year, when all Federal judges are required to retire, Raphael still felt he had something to contribute to the legal sector.
Sparke Helmore’s proposal to mix mentoring of young lawyers with governmental advice was complementary to the sort of work he was looking for.
He says one of the most pressing issues facing firms today is obtaining, training and holding quality staff.
“There may be many more law schools around but the exigencies of making the degree the professional qualification has harmed the way the syllabuses have been structured. There is simply not enough concentration on the basics from which all other law emanates…[However] I am confident that small and medium size firms will survive because they offer a more personal service with a better cost structure. The larger firms are adaptable and if partner remuneration is the benchmark of success they will continue to be successful whilst providing a seamless service throughout Australia and overseas.”
Sparke Helmore’s government national practice group leader Richard Morrison says Raphael’s wealth of experience, both as a judge and as a former partner, will greatly enhance the insights the government team is able to provide to clients.