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The Hon Michael Kirby delivers Law Commencement Oration

21 February 2020

The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, distinguished former High Court Justice, delivered the inaugural Canberra Law School Commencement Oration on Monday 17 February.

The Oration is an opportunity for law students, legal practitioners and members of the public to hear about the role of legal history in the shaping of justice and the conduct of legal practice.

Mr Kirby spoke of the importance of teaching and learning legal history. Through examples, Mr Kirby demonstrated that law is about human stories and it is through history that we understand our law.

A Q&A session followed, with a panel of students and academics from the University of Canberra Law School.

Michael Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge. He was first appointed in 1975 as a Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Soon after, he became inaugural Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1975–1984). Later, he was appointed a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia, then President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal (1984–1996) and, concurrently, President of the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands (1995–1996). His appointment to the High Court of Australia followed in 1996 and he served 13 years. In later years, he was twice Acting Chief Justice of Australia.

The Oration is available to view in full here.