14 September 2011

The University of Queensland's TC Beirne School of Law has celebrated its 75th anniversary with a gala “Town and Gown” debate at Customs House.

The entertaining event brought together some of Queensland’s sharpest legal minds, with academics and practitioners of law engaged in a battle of words and wit on the theme, “It takes 75 years to make sense of the law”.

President of the Queensland Court of Appeal, The Honourable Justice Margaret A McMurdo AC, presided over the debate which was attended by more than 190 guests from the legal profession, The University of Queensland and the local community.

Among the guests were many eminent members of the Queensland judiciary, Federal Member for Ryan Jane Prentice MP, and Shadow Attorney General Senator the Hon George Brandis SC.

The TC Beirne School of Law is the oldest and most successful law school in Queensland and one of Australia’s leading research-intensive law schools.

The school began as a “shadow” faculty on the establishment of The University of Queensland in 1910, and became a fully-functioning law school in 1936, thanks to a generous donation of $3 million (in today’s money) from Brisbane businessman Thomas Charles Beirne.

TC Beirne’s great-grandson and President of the Queensland Bar Association, Mr Richard Douglas SC, supported the event as a member of the “Town” debate team.

Also in attendance were a number of members of the Douglas and Macrossan families, all descendents of the school’s original benefactor.

In his welcome address, Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Greenfield acknowledged the valuable contribution made by the legal profession and the school’s past and present donors – in particular its namesake Thomas Charles Beirne.

“I hope he would be proud of the procession of students and staff who have benefited from his generosity and vision,” Professor Greenfield said.

“As someone who believed in the transformative power of education, I am sure he would be satisfied with the contributions that alumni have made towards the image of the profession, and to public confidence in the justice systems of Queensland, Australia, and indeed internationally.”

Along with Mr Douglas, the “Town” team was comprised of fellow UQ law alumni Mrs Margaret Brown, a Partner at Minter Ellison Lawyers, and Mr Derran Moss, Legal Advisor to the United Nations in Timor Leste.

Arguing against the profession’s hypothesis that it takes 75 years to make sense of the law were School of Law academics Professor Sarah Derrington, Dr Jonathan Crowe and Garrick Professor of Law, Professor James Allan.

The hard fought and humorous legal debate was declared a draw.

To watch or listen to the debate visit the 75th Anniversary page on the School of Law’s website.

Media: Melissa Reynolds (07 3365 2523, m.reynolds@law.uq.edu.au)