Vic Bar: A History of the Victorian Bar

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Media: BOOK - hardcover, 376 pages
Author: P. Yule
Year: 2022
ISBN: 9781922669261
Other: b&w & colour photos, sketches, bibliog, bar roll, index
Publisher: Australian Scholarly Publishing

One of Australia's leading historians, Dr Peter Yule, was commissioned to write a major history of the Victorian Bar, from its earliest days in the late 1830s to the present.

In 1841 in Port Phillip’s new Supreme Court a young Redmond Barry argued that the evidence against two Tasmanian Aboriginals accused of murder was quite insufficient for conviction—to no avail. In January 1842 the first execution took place in front of 3000 spectators. Four decades later, the eminent Redmond was to sentence Ned Kelly to death. In 1855 the 13 Eureka rebels were tried for High Treason—a hanging offence. The jury wasn’t having it. These were just three of many dramatic incidents in Victoria's early history, and countless others have since played out in their courts, under a system of justice in which barristers are the contestants.

Dr Yule describes the Victorian Bar as a collective of individuals, while the reader will find many great figures of the Law and of Politics mentioned throughout, not forgetting the activists who've pressed for human rights and social progress along the way.

This significant project was supported by Barristers' Chambers Limited (BCL), and included not only the publication of the history book; but also involved the preservation of materials collected while researching the history; including oral histories from past and present members of the Bar, and a complete Bar Roll.

The book contains 100s of colour and black and white photos and sketches throughout, all of which help provide a complete history of the Victorian Bar. There is a Bar Roll included as well, which is comprehensive list of Victorian Bar members since 1900 through to May 2021. 

This is a well-presented book, on an aspect of Victorian history that has had very little written about it in the past. It is a wonderful book for anyone with an interest in Victoria's judicial system, Victorian history in general, and of course, those who were involved in (or had connections to) the legal profession in Victoria.



Part 1. The Colonial Bar 1841-1880
1. The Foundation of the Victorian Bar, 1838-1851
2. Victorian's Golden Years, 1851-1855
3. The Immigrant Bar
4. The Home-Grown Bar
5. The Bar and Politics, 1851-1880

Part 2. Land Boom and Federation 1880-1914
6. Land Boom and Bust
7. The Bar and the Profession: Amalgamation and Organisation, 1880-1914
8. The Victorian Bar and Federation
9. Life at the Bar, 1880-1914

Part 3. War and Depression, 1914-1915
10. The Bar and the First World War
11. The 1920s: A Decade of Growth
12. The Bar in the Depression
13. The Second World War

Part 4. The Post-War Boom and After 1945-1980
14. 'You can make a living just by staying on your feet': The Golden Years of the Bar
15. 'A chat between three or four old boys of the public schools': The Composition of the Bar, 1945-1970
16. 'We didn't ask them to come to the Bar': Accommodation and Clerks, 1945-1970
17. Radicals at the Bar
18. Winds of Change

Part 5. The Modern Bar 1980-2020
19. The Bar Reinvented
20. A Diverse Bar?
21. The Bar in the Era of Competition and Compliance
22. 'Every rabbit down every hole': Changes in Practices, 1980-2020
23. 'A profession is only as good as what it does for others'
24. 'If the Bar is going to survive and prosper it will be on the merit of what it provides'

The Peter O'Callaghan QC Gallery portrait collection
Bar Roll: A comprehensive list of Victorian Bar members since 1900 as of 6 May 2021 


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Vic Bar: A History of the Victorian Bar


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