President’s Medal recipients announced and 2015 executive members elected

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The Law Council of Australia has announced its 2015 executive team that were elected at the November directors’ meeting of the Council.

President Michael Colbran QC has confirmed the following representatives have been voted in:

•President, Mr Duncan McConnel, Barrister, Northern Territory;
• President-elect, Mr Stuart Clark, Solicitor, New South Wales;
•Treasurer, Ms Fiona McLeod SC, Barrister, Victoria;
•Member, Dr Christopher Kendall, Barrister, Western Australia;
•Member, Mr Morry Bailes, Solicitor, South Australia; and
•Member, Mr Ian Brown, Solicitor, Queensland.

He says the Law Council would like to extend its thanks to the outgoing executive members, Leanne Topfer and Justin Dowd, for their dedication and commitment to the Law Council over many years.

And the Council has also just announced the winners of its highly coveted President’s Medal, an annual award that recognises an Australian lawyer’s outstanding contribution to the legal profession.

The Honourable Geoffrey Eames AM QC and Raelene Webb QC have been named as the recipients of this year’s medal.

President Colbran said the exemplary character and extensive experience of both recipients have positioned them as truly valued members of the Australian legal profession.
Eames was nominated to receive the award by the Victorian Bar in recognition of his longstanding commitment to making a difference in the law and in particular in its application to the Australian Indigenous community.

In awarding the medal, Colbran also acknowledged Eames' service as Chief Justice of Nauru.

"Geoff has courageously, and at considerable personal cost, stood up publicly for the rule of law and in the public interest of Nauru,” he says.
“A man of passion and commitment, a great lawyer, and an excellent role model for all lawyers, he is a very worthy recipient of this award.”
The recipient said he was deeply honoured to receive the award because it brings attention and focus to “the continuing struggles that judges, magistrates and legal practitioners must frequently endure in order to defend the rule of law”.
Eames also praised the pro bono services offered by Australian lawyers to the people of Nauru and those detained in refugee centres as well as the advocacy training provided to local practitioners.
The second medal winner, Raelene Webb QC, was nominated by the New South Wales Bar for her “extraordinary leadership” within the legal profession, contribution to Constitutional and Native Title Law issues, and contribution to women in the law and reconciliation for all Australians.
Currently serving as the President of the Native Title Tribunal, Webb has also served as President of the Northern Territory Bar Association from 2009 to 2012, and as Treasurer and Vice-President of the Australian Bar Association.
Colbran described her as an “exceptional” lawyer and one of the leading native title silks in Australia.
“Over two decades Ms Webb has remained one of very few women who has addressed the High Court on a regular basis from the central rostrum and is possibly the only woman to have done so continuously for this period,” he says.
“[She] is well known within the Law Council family and has made an extraordinary contribution through her work, including her leadership in the development of the Law Council’s first Reconciliation Action Plan.”
Webb was privileged to receive the award jointly with Eames, and says it was something she could never have expected.
“I marvel how it is that a shy country girl coming to the law in mid-life, finds herself here receiving this prestigious award and in the company of so many distinguished lawyers who have themselves contributed so much to the legal profession, both personally and through their work with the Law Council of Australia,” she says.
“My advice to all who are contemplating scaling the walls of the legal profession, and particularly to women: Be courageous, be bold, and above all, be passionate about the law.”