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Cheers to Proctor, and Star Trek!

40 years

This month, Proctor turned 40, although I confess I did not notice initially, possibly because the celebration did not involve a function with an open bar.

In my defence, I wasn’t actually aware of Proctor’s launch back in 1982, since I was still in high school and a career in law was just a distant light on the horizon. I had, however, taken my first steps towards a future as a lawyer, largely by totally sucking at maths, which is the traditional path.

Back then, my major preoccupations were watching Star Trek and The Professionals, and a lot of soccer training; it paid off too, because that year our mighty Coalstars soccer team won everything (and I mean everything). That doesn’t have anything to do with Proctor, but I love telling the story.

As soon as I started articles, however, Proctor became very important in my professional life, mostly as a work avoidance device – reading the official Law Society journal was seen as a responsible use of an articled clerk’s time, filled as it was with important casenotes and lots of information of great use to the serious lawyer (this was before my column became a part of it).

Indeed, the arrival of Proctor on our desks always produced a sense of excitement, an eager anticipation, and – most of all – a lot of snickering. We callow articled clerks didn’t know what the word Proctor meant, and had assumed it was a reference to a medical examination involving a rubber glove and equal levels of discomfort in both examiner and examinee, albeit of very different types.

Seriously, I think we all did look forward to Proctor hitting our desks, and not just because it made them (the desks) look a little less empty. This was before the advent of computers, when a desk contained a phone, a Dictaphone, an overflowing in-tray and a wildly optimistically-labelled out-tray. Proctor was a connection to the profession, and at a time when Queensland’s legal ranks were much smaller and often closely related, there was a fair chance of seeing a picture of someone you knew – although given the state of photography technology back then, it might not be the most flattering picture (which made it even better).

At its best, Proctor played a significant part in creating the collegial spirit of the Queensland legal profession; at its worst, it at least had useful information about interest rates (again, this was before the advent of my column).

It also, somewhere in the dim, dark past of 20-25 years ago, began to include my first juvenile efforts at column writing (not that my more recent efforts constitute epiphanies in maturity). Those early efforts – poems about there being too many law graduates, and letters to the editor about suing God – would evolve into the whimsical, largely ignored reflections of today.

I was pleased to note, on the reproduced first page of Proctor that accompanied the birthday celebrations, that Proctor was envisaged as being, ‘”informal, on occasions irreverent…”. That is of comfort because in the early years of my column, certain people who shall remain nameless (mostly because I don’t know their names) protested the inclusion of my column in such an august journal as Proctor. Luckily for me (and probably a little less luckily for you) the editors stood up for me and kept the column in, although probably without drawing too much attention to it.

Much has happened over the last 40 years, but Proctor has continued to sail on, albeit digitally (no pun intended) rather than in hard copy. Fax machines replaced the telex, Dictaphones became digital, computers appeared, and the internet went from being a nascent text-based realm where nerds discussed Star Trek to a vivid video-filled wonderland where…OK, so it is still mostly nerds discussing Star Trek, but you get the picture.

So happy 40th birthday Proctor, and here’s to 40 more; hope my column is still here by then, although to be honest I’d settle for me still being here (alive I mean; not at the QLS).

I’d like to thank all of my loyal readers, assuming there are any, and Ian Muil, the Proctor editor who published my first contributions, and then wisely took off before the fallout. Last but certainly not least I’d like to thank current editor John Teerds, who has spent the last 20-odd (and they have been odd!) years dealing with said fallout, and somehow keeping me in these pages. I hope he isn’t planning on retirement any time soon…

Are they going to serve the drinks now?

© Shane Budden 2022

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One Response

  1. You do have some loyal Readers Shane. I eagerly look forward to your light hearted writings. Harking back I do take issue with your missive on no alcohol beers – they have the same taste to me as normal beer but I am not a great beer drinker – mostly red wine, and Shiraz at that. Always reminds me of the time my wife drank (well I suppose to be fair it really was only a taste as she is not a beer drinker) her father’s home brew (which tasted like home brew) and said that it tasted just like beer! Meaning that she did not like it!

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