Update, 7 June 2008: The Age‘s weekend magazine had a front cover profile of Dave Hughes, and the same day the June Australian Financial Review Magazine had a front cover profile of Tom Hughes. Diverse and powerful as Tom’s family is, I do not think it counts Dave as a member. This is the most fawning, glossy QC portrait in the series: no fewer than 7 photos, two full-pagers. The hagiographical profile reminded me that Tom is art critic Robert Hughes’s brother. Before court, he works Jesuitically for four hours every day on the 62nd floor of the MLC Tower, leaving for work at 4.55 a.m. He has been a barrister for almost 60 years. These days, his junior is often his son Tom Hughes. His daughter Lucy is one-time mayor of Sydney and happens to be married to Malcolm Turnbull. France gave him a legion of honour for his service in World War II. He was mates with Sir Owen Dixon, Sir Frank Packer, and Sir John Gorton. He argued in the Privy Council. He was for 16 months Attorney-General in Gorton’s government: John Howard was his campaign manager when he got elected. He enthused mightily about the American intervention in Vietnam. What is most interesting however, is that this is not the first front page profile Hughes has suffered:
‘In early 1978, the now-defunct Bulletin magazine, owned by Kerry Packer’s Australian Consolidate Press, splashed across its cover a large photo of Tom Hughes, with a story headlined “From Silk to Riches — Portrait of a $1,000 a day QC”. Soon afer the article appeared, its author, Malcolm Turnbull, sent a bouquet of roses around to Tom Hughes’s chambers for his daughter, Lucy, then aged 19, who had just completed first-year law. Turnbull married Lucy Hughes two years later.’
Update, 23 April 2008: Now The Times has published its list of the 100 most powerful English lawyers. Sir Igor Judge is right up there in the top ten.
Original post: It’s not just Peter Faris, with his blog, his until-recently radio show, his comments about the Fijian judiciary in the Fiji Times, and repeated Age profiles. Has anyone else noticed the rise of the celebrity QC profile? The glossy Melbourne Magazine, published monthly by The Age, had a profile of Julian Burnside QC last year. Like Geoffrey Robertson QC (remember his hypotheticals?), Mr Burnside writes and his profile was part of the publishing cycle, tied in with his new book. But Colin Lovitt QC — best known for representing Jaidyn Leskie’s babysitter, Greg Domaszewicz — profiled in Royal Auto? (Turns out from the profile he did the whole thing pro bono.) And, Alan Myers QC, of all people, the very exemplar of the traditional Bar, reminiscing about his first tax case in The Australian Financial Review? Is it a trend I see?
Mr Myers’ profile was part of another new phenomenon, lawyer ranking blinged up to the next level, a great big US-inspired lift-out supplement to the AFR’s Legal Affairs pages. Continue reading “Rise of the celebrity QC and of Australian lawyer rankings”