The 2019 senior counsel appointments were recently announced. The tradition in England was that on the appointment of silk, the appointee would process in turn to each of the courts that are sitting, announces his or her appointment and make their bow. In NSW there are bow ceremonies in which the leader of the Bar announces to the Chief Justice the newly appointed silk.

When Jeffrey McLennan was appointed silk in 2014, he was unable to attend the main ceremony and took his ceremonial bows before Hamill J in the Supreme Court sitting in Grafton. A short congratulatory speech was delivered, which included the following:

You have shown excellent judgment, a deep and broad knowledge of the relevant legal principles, a quietly persuasive advocacy style, a deft touch with witnesses and a polite doggedness in the face of repeated judicial interruptions of your arguments. You may have felt that the fourth day of the pre-trial voir dire was a little like the tax case in the High Court that Justice Starke said was “argued over nine days by the Court with the occasional assistance of counsel”: Federal Commissioner of Taxation v Hoffnung Ltd (1928) 42 CLR 39 at 62.”


“…I also note that your capacity to organize a brief and to colour code it confounds even the most anal retentive of those who instruct you.

I have had some experience of this in the current trial featuring as it does a number of plastic folders of photographs and diagrams. Exhibit A was a colour best described, I think, as Fuchsia. Exhibit F was a kind of lime green. Exhibit HH was burnt – or perhaps Tuscan – orange. You relented a little with Exhibit NN – it was red – and exhibit RR, which was blue.

When we came to exhibit XX I asked if you had run out of colours. I was delighted when you patiently explained ‘no your Honour, this is the rainbow region’.”

Shout out to Elleni Zacharia for giving me the idea for this post.

Creative commons acknowledgment for the photograph.


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