Law body hits back at Rau jibe

The Advertiser - - NEWS - AN­DREW HOUGH

A NEW rift has emerged be­tween the peak body rep­re­sent­ing lawyers and the state’s top le­gal ea­gle, who dis­parag­ingly com­pared them to tradies who only op­posed laws for fi­nan­cial rea­sons.

The Law So­ci­ety, which rep­re­sents more than 4000 lawyers and bar­ris­ters, has pub­licly at­tacked At­tor­neyGen­eral John Rau, SC, for his lack of “re­spect” and “ill­judged” crit­i­cism of the 138 -year-old or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Its gov­ern­ing body, which Mr Rau is a mem­ber of but has failed to at­tend a meet­ing in more than two-and-a-half years, has re­jected deroga­tory com­par­isons with “plumbers” and claims its op­po­si­tion is mo­ti­vated by fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests. Mr Rau’s com­ments came dur­ing Par­lia­men­tary de­bate on clos­ing a le­gal “crim­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tion” loop­hole. De­spite be­ing a lawyer, Mr Rau crit­i­cised the so­ci­ety for adopt­ing a “nor­mal con­trary stance”, in which they “dis­agree with every­thing you have done”.

Pres­i­dent Tony Rossi, last month wrote to Mr Rau – con­tro­ver­sially ap­pointed Spe­cial Coun­sel in Novem­ber last year – and Pre­mier Jay Weather­ill to ex­press “con­cerns” at the “dis­turb­ing” claims but has re­ceived no re­ply. Mr Rossi, a civil lawyer fore more than 30 years, also penned an out­spo­ken piece for its monthly mag­a­zine’s cur­rent edi­tion.

He said the crit­i­cisms ig­nored its stand­ing un­der state law and “im­por­tant func­tions” en­trusted by both the Par­lia­ment and the Supreme Court”.

“You would wish, and ex­pect, that some­one who has been granted the em­i­nent sta­tus of Se­nior Coun­sel would un­der­stand, and be more re­spect­ful, of the (so­ci­ety’s) po­si­tion,” he told The Ad­ver­tiser.

Mr Rossi said he had “over­whelm­ing sup­port”. Mr Rau de­clined to com­ment. PAGE 16: ED­I­TO­RIAL

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