Amy McCormick spent much of her childhood playing around courtrooms and today she returned to a courtroom to be admitted as a solicitor.
Amy was one of more than 90 people at the Banco Court in Brisbane today being admitted to the Supreme Court of Queensland.
“My father Dennis was a lawyer in Bundaberg. I grew up in the courthouse especially in the school holidays,” she said. “I saw a lot of his mannerisms.
“My mum was a teacher so I was always surrounded by words, words, words. Words were in our family.” Amy left school at 15 years to work and started her career path via studies in medical science and pathology. Then she began to consider the legal profession.
“I didn’t think I could study law,” she said. “I thought I’ll do it and I put in my application at Central Queensland University. And then ‘oh wow’ I got in.”
Her mover was barrister Lisa Ashleigh, who practises at P.D. Connolly Chambers and is a teacher and researcher at Queensland University of Technology.
Lisa completes student assessments and had “spent some time” with Amy over the course of her studies, and was happy to move her.
There was also another family connection this morning when Mr Mitchell moved Mr Mitchell, causing momentary confusion for Justice Dalton. Bryan Mitchell moved his son James. Both work at Mitchells Lawyers at Moorooka.
Justice Dalton congratulated the new lawyers on this “really significant milestone in your lives”.
In her remarks she focused on them starting their careers as “a professional” and the meaning of the word.
She urged the newcomers to consider the word from “time to time” throughout their careers.
“We use the word professional in different senses. A professional sportsperson means someone who is paid for playing sport,” she said.
“You no doubt will be well paid in your profession. But that’s not the sense in which you are now professionals. Professional can also mean someone who does a good, possibly even a slick job. You might choose to go and see a professional theatre performance, not one put on by an amateur theatre company, which might be slightly bumbling.
“I hope you have many more days in your working lives where you feel your work is of high quality. Although I must warn you, there will be days when you feel your work performance is slightly bumbling.
“But this is still not the sense in which you are now professionals.”
Justice Dalton said lawyers and doctors had codes of ethics because they provided “advice and action to assist people who seek out our help in dealing with parts of their lives where they are not equipped themselves to deal with the challenges they face”.
“Your advice and actions as a lawyer can very significantly impact on the lives of your clients,” she said.
“A dramatic or possibly even clichéd example of this is the role of a barrister in a criminal trial. A less dramatic example is one of a lawyer who gives advice to his client that they do have a civil cause of action but that to prosecute it in the courts will take years and cost more in legal fees than the client could ever hope to recover from their opponent.
“That advice is good professional advice and it’s against the lawyer’s self-interest in earning all those fees.
“It’s in that sense that you are called upon to be professional in your working lives.”
Justice Dalton also questioned the use of the word “legal industry” in some official documents.
“I shudder. If you were involved in a major car accident, or diagnosed with a serious illness, would you wish to be taken into the hands of the medical industry or even someone in the medical business? I am sure you would want to be in the hands of a caring, competent professional.”
She said there were many challenges ahead for new lawyers due to rapid technological change.
“Wherever and however you end up practising as a lawyer, remember that you are a professional and evaluate the way you practise against your professional ethical standards.”
Following on from the popular Career Moves section, we have introduced a new section called Admissions. We are looking to celebrate all newly admitted solicitors and congratulate them on this significant achievement. Please email details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Ensure you include some details of your current role, along with a quality head-and-shoulders image.