Brisbane’s Banco Court was buzzing on Monday as 191 new solicitors were admitted to the Supreme Court of Queensland among them a quietly spoken, Bundjalung man Josh Apanui.
A Queensland Law Society Policy Officer and an Indigenous Advocate with Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion, Josh’s admission was moved by Tony McAvoy SC.
It was a special honour for both men.
Josh is the nephew of Bob Bellear, who was a member of the New South Wales District Court and also the foundational First Nations judge in Australia. Josh’s uncle was also a mentor to Mr McAvoy SC.
And while Josh was initially too shy to ask Mr McAvoy SC to be his mover, a mutual colleague of senior standing in the legal profession stepped in to help.
“Today was one of the most proud moments going for my admission,” Josh said, who was supported by family, friends and colleagues.
“I officially became a lawyer and was moved by the most senior barrister before the court. Thank you Tony McAvoy SC.
“It has been pretty wild, fun, and every other emotion of life. What seemed to be the impossible, was possible and now a reality.”
There were also a few nerves on display as Josh was the first to stand in the afternoon admission session, following a few seconds behind Mr McAvoy SC.
There were lots of emotions in the courtroom on Monday, not only from the new solicitors but some movers felt the importance of the occasion. Some handwritten notes, voices and shoulders were shaking as admission words were read out. There were bouquets, cards, cakes and some traditional dress among the supporters at the court. Fathers moved for their sons, and uncles for their nieces.
Justice Callaghan joined the bench to see his god-daughter admitted.
Mr McAvoy SC said it was a “special honour” to move the admission of someone as a legal practitioner and to be able to appear in the Supreme Court on an admissions ceremony as the most senior barrister before the court.
“Having grown up in the Brisbane suburb of Inala, it never would have occurred to me that life’s path might bring me here,” he said.
Chief Justice Bowskill congratulated and warmly welcomed the newly admitted lawyers along with Justice Crow and Justice Boddice.
“Today represents the culmination of a significant amount of hard work for all of you, no doubt with the support of your family and friends,” Chief Justice Bowskill said.
“Some of you have also overcome challenges in arriving at today. Because of the number of people involved we don’t get to hear your individual stories but we know you all have one, and we know you have all overcome obstacles and dealt with lots of issues in order to get to this very special day. So you should all feel incredibly proud of yourselves as should your family and friends.
“I urge you to remember this feeling of pride that you feel today and strive to always do things that make you feel this way, and evoke this memory in times in the future if things get a little bit difficult.”
Chief Justice Bowskill reminded the applicants that one of their most important and valuable resources was their reputation.
“Your reputation as an ethical, honest and completely candid professional whom the court, and for that matter your colleagues, can trust is essential to your success as a lawyer,” she said.
“So be proactive about protecting your reputation by always learning and striving for excellence in everything you do, no matter how big or small it might seem, and always acting with integrity.
“Do not take your reputation for granted because once lost, a good reputation can be very hard to regain.”
Chief Justice Bowskill also said another essential resource for a lawyer was “your mind”.
“We know that legal practice can be stressful. Work expectations, pressures and long hours can all take their toll. There is now a great deal of research about the mental health impacts on law students, lawyers and judicial officers.
“So it is very important that you be proactive about this. And remember you are not alone. Make your physical and mental health a priority, not an after-thought, and I promise you will be both a better lawyer and enjoy your work more if you do this.”
She also urged the group to “have the courage as you embark on your careers as lawyers to continue to be your authentic selves”.
“Just look at your own cohort and see the huge increase in diversity within our legal profession, you are reflective of the community more broadly.
“Once upon a time, there would have been a sameness to the people being admitted as lawyers and who serve as members of the judiciary. But we have seen enormous change, and we are going to continue to see a much broader and diverse range of people rising to the top of the profession.
“So don’t be afraid to be yourselves, don’t be afraid to make choices and decisions about your career that suit you and your family rather than on the basis of some perceived norm or stereotype about what a lawyer looks like or how they act.
“If you always strive for excellence in whatever you do, your reputation will grow and success will follow.
“Today is for you to bask in the joy of your fabulous achievement, celebrate with your family and friends.”
Congratulations to those who were admitted this month. Our new section Admissions celebrates all newly admitted solicitors on their significant achievement. Please email details to email@example.com. Ensure you include some details of your current role, along with a quality head-and-shoulders image.