Frank Beasley Medal

  Frank Beasley 

(1987 - 1976)


                                                                  Photograph from UWA Archives 20501P ADB 



                               PHOTOGRAPH FROM UWA LAW SCHOOL

Frank Reginald Beasley was educated at Magdalen College School, Oxford before moving to Western Australia in 1914. In 1915, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force serving with the 11th Battalion at Gallipoli and in France. After being granted leave in 1919, he studied with the Council of Legal Education, London, and at Wadham College, Oxford, where he graduated with honours in jurisprudence. He returned to Australia and was demobilised in October 1920.

Professor Beasley enrolled in law at the University of Sydney. He graduated with first class honours and was admitted to the New South Wales Bar. He then worked for the directors of Farmer & Co, lectured in international relations for the University's adult education programme, became a University examiner in political science and jurisprudence, and joined the Round Table Movement and the Grotius Society. From seventeen applicants, in 1927, Professor Beasley was appointed the foundation Professor of Law at the University of Western Australia.

In establishing the Faculty of Law, Professor Beasley succeeded in attracting and holding the support of Perth's practising lawyers — at least to some extent, by employing leading members of the profession as part-time lecturers. His own speciality was Constitutional Law. He frequently spoke on radio about international affairs. His public discussions aroused controversy during the 1930s and sometimes provoked criticism from members of the Parliament of Western Australia.

Teaching at UWA’s newly established Law School was suspended between 1941 and 1943, when Professor Beasley was himself called for full-time duty. The activities of the Law School were revived in 1944.

From that time until his retirement in 1963, Professor Beasley undertook the usual intramural duties of a senior Professor, was President of the Staff Association between 1952 and 1954, and continued his involvement in adult education.

Despite early post-war difficulties in the relationship between the Faculty and the Barristers' Board, Professor Beasley secured a good range of full-time teaching staff. In 1948 he founded the University's Annual Law Review.

In 1963, Professor Beasley retired as Dean of UWA’s Law Faculty. He had been Dean for 37 years. He had been an austere, sometimes severe, teacher with a passionate commitment to the ideals of scholarship, service, and morality. His dry, acerbic wit was both feared and relished and his manner was described as ‘forthright and incisive’ and at times ‘devastating and emotive’. But, there was no denying his energy, determination, and dedication to the Law Faculty and the University.

Following his retirement, Professor Beasley became a consultant on the establishment of Monash University's Law School. He would go on to occupy an office as a Special Lecturer and Library Adviser at Monash Law School until the late 1970’s. During this time Professor Beasley also served 18 months as a Visiting Professor at the University of Singapore and six months at the Australian National University, Canberra. Beasley was awarded Honorary Doctorates in law from the University of Melbourne in 1956 and the University of Western Australia in 1974.

Professor Frank Beasley passed away on 3 June 1976. The University of Western Australia's law library is named after him and his bust stands at its entrance.

Frank Beasley Medal 

In 1927, the Senate of the University of Western Australia formally announced its decision to establish a Law School – made possible by strong support from the Barristers’ Board and the local legal profession, the beginning of the close link that has always existed between the profession and the Law School. On 26 September 1927, the University appointed Frank Beasley as the Law School’s first Professor. By 1 November, Beasley had arrived in Perth; the first Faculty Meeting was held on 25 November, and classes commenced in 1928. 

Over the next few years, Beasley placed the Law School on a firm foundation. He was assisted by five visiting lecturers, but as the only full-time staff member he had to teach the remaining six subjects himself. In addition to running the Law School, he established the Blackstone Society as a communal organisation for the law students, played a full part in the life of the University on many fronts (from coaching the rowing eight to serving as Chair of the Professorial Board and Acting Vice-Chancellor), and was active in public life, broadcasting and lecturing and establishing the WA branch of the Australian Institute of International Affairs. 

Teaching had to be suspended in 1942 and 1943 after Beasley, an experienced World War I army officer, was called up for full-time military service, but recommenced in 1944. In the post-war period, Beasley continued to build up the Law School: by the time of his retirement in 1963, he had completed no less than 37 years as Professor and Dean. By then he had managed to secure the appointment of some additional full-time staff members – though even in the year of his retirement there were still only four full-time staff, assisted by nine part-timers. In 1944, he persuaded the University to give the Law School a vacant wooden building in the north-west corner of the campus, but was always looking ahead to the time when Law might have a new purpose-built Law School, and in 1958 his blueprint for a new building (based on his experience of law schools in North America when on study leave) was accepted by Faculty. In 1962, just before his retirement, the University Grants Commission agreed to fund the new Law School, and Beasley’s successor, Douglas Payne, took up the initial concept and saw the project through to completion in 1967. Beasley established the Annual Law Review in 1948, and built up the Law Library, described in 1957 as ‘one of the finest working law libraries in this country’; his expertise was recognised on his retirement from UWA in 1963 when he was recruited by Professor David Derham to establish the law library of the new law school at Monash University.

At the time of the 75th anniversary in 2002, the Law School, led by Dean Bill Ford, decided to create a commemorative award to honour distinguished graduates who had made exceptional contributions to the law, the Law School and legal education. The award was to take the form of a medal named for the Law School’s founding professor – the Beasley Medal. The first two medals were presented on 9 May 2003, at a ceremony in the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery preceding a dinner in Winthrop Hall, to Sir Francis Burt (LLB 1940), former Chief Justice of Western Australia, and Sir Ronald Wilson (1949), WA’s first High Court Judge. During next few years, there were further presentations to John Toohey (1950) and Geoffrey Kennedy (1953); and at the 90th anniversary dinner on 1 September 2018, medals were presented to David Malcolm (1960) (posthumously), Robert French (1971), Wayne Martin (1974), Christine Wheeler (1980), Sue Gordon (2002) and long-serving staff member Professor Richard Harding. Though the original concept has now been slightly modified in light of the changing nature of the Law School over the past 50 years, the Beasley Medal remains, as always intended, the most important means by which the Law School publicly acknowledges and celebrates exceptional contribution and achievement on the part of its most distinguished graduates and scholars.

Medal recipients

UWA Law School acknowledges and celebrates the exceptional contribution and achievement of its most distinguished graduates and scholars. 
The Hon Sir Francis Burt AC KCMG KC

The Hon Sir Francis Theodore Page Burt AC KCMG KC was born in Cottesloe in June 1918. Sir Francis graduated with first class honours in law in 1940, winning a Hackett Scholarship. After wartime service, Sir Francis was awarded a Masters degree for his thesis entitled ‘Annotated Provisions of the Industrial Arbitration Act’ which became a leading text. He was conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Law in 1987.

Sir Francis was admitted to practice in 1941. In 1945, after a short period at Northmore Hale Davy & Leake, he was made a partner of Joseph Muir & Williams, now Herbert Smith Freehills. Between 1945 and 1946 he was a Visiting Lecturer at the Law School where he lectured on Contract and Administrative Law.

In March 1961, Sir Francis founded the independent Bar in Western Australia. He was the first President of the Bar Association and also a President of the Law Society. In 1967, he was appointed Counsel assisting the second Royal Commission inquiring into the sinking of HMAS Voyager. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed Royal Commissioner to inquire into the affairs of Wool Exporters Ltd.

In February 1969, Sir Francis was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia. He was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia in 1977. He served as Chief Justice until 1988. He was appointed Governor of Western Australia in 1990.

Sir Francis passed away on 8 September 2004.

At his funeral, the Hon David Malcolm AC KC, then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, said: ‘Sir Francis was an inspiration to successive generations of lawyers … He was without pretention. His humanity was deep and sensitive. His knowledge of the law and understanding of human nature was extensive … While an intellectual giant, he could relate to persons of almost any background.’

The Hon Sir Ronald Wilson AC KBE CMG KC
The Hon Sir Ronald Darling Wilson AC KBE CMG KC was born in Geraldton in August 1922. In 1941, he enlisted in the army. He later transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force. After returning to Australia, Sir Ronald enrolled at the University of Western Australia and graduated in law with first class honours in 1949. He later graduated with a Master of Laws from the University of Pennsylvania where he studied as a Fulbright Scholar.

When Sir Ronald graduated, it was a requirement for admission to serve two years of articles of clerkship. Sir Ronald persuaded the Crown to seek an amendment to Legal Practitioners Act 1893 permitting articles to be taken with the Crown Solicitor. This made Sir Ronald the first, though by no means the last, graduate to be articled outside of a private law firm. Sir Ronald was admitted in 1951.

By 1959, Sir Ronald had become the Chief Crown Prosecutor. He was appointed Crown Counsel in 1961 and took silk in 1963. At that time, Sir Ronald was the youngest person to receive this distinction. In 1969, Sir Ronald became the first Solicitor-General of Western Australia. He would go on to argue Western Australia’s case in the Seas and Submerged Lands Case. He later described the decision as probably one of his greatest professional disappointments.

Sir Ronald was appointed to the High Court of Australia in 1979, the first Western Australian to be appointed to that Court. He retired in 1989. In 1988, he was appointed President of the Assembly of the Uniting Church and in 1980 had assumed the Chancellorship of Murdoch University. Additionally, Sir Ronald would serve as President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, as well as Deputy Chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.

In 1991, Sir Ronald was appointed to the WA Royal Commission into Commercial Activities of Government and Other Matters. From 1995, he was Joint-Chair of the National Inquiry which produced the now landmark report, Bringing Them Home.

Sir Ronald passed away on 15 July 2005.

The Hon John Toohey AC KC
The Hon John Toohey AC KC was born in Perth in 1930. He graduated in law in 1950, winning the F E Parsons Prize for the most outstanding graduate and the H C F Keall Prize for best fourth year student. At Justice Toohey’s swearing in as a Justice of the High Court of Australia, the then Commonwealth Attorney-General remarked: ‘when [the matter of your appointment was] before Cabinet the Prime Minister [Bob Hawke] took the opportunity to acclaim your academic brilliance by indicating that he ran second to you.’

Shortly after completing articles, Mr Toohey started his own firm and later joined the Bar. He appeared often in the High Court of Australia.

In 1973, Justice Toohey established the inaugural Aboriginal Legal Office and, in 1977, he was appointed the first Aboriginal Land Commissioner taking commissions in the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory and the Federal Court of Australia. On 6 February 1987, he was sworn in as a Justice of the High Court of Australia.

The Hon James Edelman, an Associate to Justice Toohey at the High Court, has remarked that Mr Toohey had ‘a deep knowledge and understanding of the common law, including areas where he considered that it needed development.’ One such area, as is well known, was Native Title. Justice Edelman has described Mr Toohey’s judgment in Mabo (No 2) as ‘marked by a deep concern with identifying the nature of traditional title …’ Justice Toohey’s approach to native title was itself part of a broader, consistent concern for individual rights existing at common law, under statute, and in the Constitution.

Justice Edelman has also remarked: ‘[a]part from John’s deep knowledge of the law and beyond, he had a glowing humanity. His empathy, and his compassion, meant that he saw goodness in others even when they could not see it in themselves. He also had a wonderful way of gently poking fun, but never hurtfully.’

John Toohey passed away on 9 April 2015.

The Hon Geoffrey Kennedy AO KC
The Hon Geoffrey Kennedy AO KC graduated from the University of Western Australia with a Bachelor of Laws with first class honours in 1953. He also completed a Bachelor of Arts part-time, majoring in Economics.

Mr Kennedy undertook his articles at Robinson Cox & Co. In 1955, he was selected as the Rhodes Scholar for Western Australia. He subsequently spent two years at Wadham College, Oxford, graduating with a Bachelor of Civil Law, also with first class honours.

Mr Kennedy was subsequently admitted to practice in 1957 becoming a partner at Robinson Cox & Co in 1958.

In 1975, Mr Kennedy was called to the Bar and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1977. During his time at the Bar, he also served as Chairman of the Western Australian Legislative Review and Advisory Committee.

In 1981, Mr Kennedy was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia. During this time he served as a member of the Steering Committee for the Supreme and Federal Court Judges’ Conference and as Chairman of the Law Reporting Advisory Board.

Justice Kennedy served as Chancellor of The University of Western Australia from 1990 to 1998.

Geoffrey Kennedy passed away on 16 July 2012.

The Hon Robert French AC has remarked: ‘In his quiet unremitting commitment to public service at its highest levels, Geoffrey Kennedy will be remembered in the history of Western Australia as one of its great citizens. [We acknowledge not only] what Geoffrey Kennedy did for his community when he lived, but of the great value we place on his kind contribution to the maintenance and strengthening of our social infrastructure in law, the administration of justice, in education and the ethical demands of public office and good government.’

The Hon Robert French AC
The Hon Robert French AC graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1968 and later completed a Bachelor of Laws. He was admitted to practice in 1972 and called to the Bar in 1983.

Mr French played an instrumental role in establishing the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia. He was the Organisation’s founding Chair. The Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia is now one of, if not the, largest community-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal organisations in Australia.

Prior to his appointment to the Federal Court of Australia, Mr French served on the Town Planning Appeal Tribunal, the Legal Aid Commission, the Trade Practices Commission, and the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia. He also substantially contributed to the Law Council of Australia as a member of the Australian Courts Committee, and member and chairman of the Privacy Law Committee.

After being appointed to the Federal Court, Mr French was appointed the inaugural President of the Native Title Tribunal. He was also appointed an additional judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and a permanent non-resident member of the Supreme Court of Fiji. He was also Deputy President of the Australian Competition Tribunal.

Mr French was appointed Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia on 1 September 2008. He retired from that office on 29 January 2017.

Following his retirement, Mr French was appointed as a non-permanent Justice of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal in May 2017 and in January 2018 as an International Judge of the Singapore International Commercial Court.

He is an Adjunct Professor at the Law School at The University of Western Australia, a Distinguished Honorary Professor at the Australian National University, and an Adjunct Professor at Monash University Law School. He was appointed Chancellor of The University of Western Australia in December 2017.

Sue Gordon AM

Dr Sue Gordon was born at Belele Station, near Meekatharra, in 1943. As a result of Government policies pertaining to Aboriginal people, Dr Gordon was taken from her mother in 1947 at the age of four. She was placed in Sister Kate’s Children’s Home, educated, and sent out to work aged 16 years. Her family found her over 30 years later.

After school, Dr Gordon joined the Army as a full-time solder. Between 1961 and 1964, she was a full-time member of the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps. She then went on to work in various administrative positions around Australia. This ultimately led to more administrative work in the Pilbara, where she worked mostly in Aboriginal Affairs.

In 1977, Dr Gordon was awarded a National Aboriginal Overseas Study Award to survey employment programs with Native American communities in the United States of America.

Dr Gordon returned to Western Australia, taking on the role of Commissioner for Aboriginal Planning in 1986. Dr Gordon was the first Aboriginal person to head a government department in this State. In 1988, Dr Gordon was appointed the first full-time and first Aboriginal magistrate in the State’s history. Dr Gordon was later appointed to the Perth Children’s Court. It was during her tenure on the Court that Dr Gordon completed her Bachelor of Laws at The University of Western Australia.

Dr Gordon has been involved in a variety of high profile matters, including as Chairperson of the Gordon Inquiry in 2002 and Chairperson of the Northern Territory Emergency Response from 2007.

Dr Gordon was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Letters from The University of Western Australia. She has received the Order of Australia, Australia Medal, Centenary Medal, and the Defence Service Medal. She was Senior Woman Lawyer of the Year in 2014.

Dr Gordon is a widow, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.

Emeritus Professor Richard Harding
  Emeritus Professor Richard Harding gained his law degrees from The University College London in 1960 and Columbia University, New York, in 1962. In 1965, after teaching at London University, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Law at The University of Western Australia.

In 1973, he was made an Associate Professor and in 1981, he was appointed a Professor. As Dean of Law from 1982 and 1983, Professor Harding strengthened links between the Law School and the profession, including additional sponsored prizes and visiting professorships. He was also able to increased staffing levels, and made a series of significant appointments.

In 1984, he took three years leave from the University to serve as the Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology in Canberra. Upon his return in 1987, he negotiated with the then Government to obtain funding for the establishment of the UWA Crime Research Centre. The Centre made a significant contribution to research in the Law School. As founding Director, Richard guided the Centre’s research activities and the development of postgraduate programs in Criminal Justice. The Centre closed in 2014.

In 2000, Professor Harding was appointed as the State’s inaugural Inspector of Custodial Services, a position that he held until 2008. This necessitated resigning from the University, at which point he was appointed Emeritus Professor. In this capacity Professor Harding has continued his association with, and contribution to, the UWA Law School, with occasional seminars and publications in academic journals.

At various times Professor Harding has been a member and Chair of the Western Australia Law Reform Commission, a member of the Australian Law Reform Commission, a Director of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology. He has consulted widely — both within Australia and with overseas jurisdictions — on matters involving human rights, penal policy, correctional practice, mental health, and gun control.

The Hon David Malcolm AC KC
The Hon David Malcolm AC KC was born in 1938. He was educated at Guildford Grammar School. He attended The University of Western Australia graduating with a Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours.

As an undergraduate, Mr Malcolm studied under the lectureship of his long term mentor Sir Francis (Red) Burt. He subsequently clerked with Red Burt before reading for a Bachelor of Civil Law as a Rhodes Scholar at Waadham College, Oxford.

Mr Malcolm was admitted to practice in 1964, and was appointed a partner in the firm of Muir, Wiliams, Nicholson and Co, now Herbert Smith Freehills. Mr Malcolm joined the Bar in 1980. He sat on many tribunals and boards, including as Chairman of the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia.

Mr Malcolm was appointed as Queens Counsel in 1980 and as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia in 1988, succeeding Sir Francis Burt. He was recognised as a man of courtesy, patience, fair minded and respectful to both members of the law fraternity and the public.

In addition to leading many changes within the Court, Chief Justice Malcolm introduced the practice of calling defendants by their title and name, not only their surname. This initiative, he felt, gave those who appeared before him an element of personalisation and ensured that no-one was discriminated against, regardless of their crime.

Mr Malcolm was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia in 1992. During his time on the Bench, he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Western Australia, and served as patron of many charitable organisations.

He retired from the office of Chief Justice in 2006. Following his retirement, he was appointed a Professor of Law at Notre Dame University.

Mr Malcolm passed away on the 20 October 2014.

The Hon Wayne Martin AC KC
The Hon Wayne Martin was born on 28 December 1952. He attended North Perth Primary School and later Guildford Grammar School. Mr Martin later attended The University of Western Australia graduating with a Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours in 1973.

Mr Martin subsequently completed a Master of Laws at King’s College London. He completed articles at Lavan & Walsh and was admitted to legal practice in Western Australia in 1977.

In 1984, Mr Martin became Senior Litigation Partner with Keall Brinsden in Perth. In 1988, he joined the Bar and in 1993, he was appointed Queen’s Counsel.

Between October 1996 and October 2002, Mr Martin was a Member of the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, and from 1997 to 2001 served as its Chair.

From 2001 to 2003, Mr Martin took on the role of counsel assisting the HIH Royal Commission in Sydney.

In 2006, Mr Martin became the 13th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia. He held that position for twelve years.

In 2012, Chief Justice Martin was appointed a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia ‘for eminent service to the judiciary and to the law, particularly as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, to legal reform and education, and to the community’.

Mr Martin has held many positions, as Chairman or Patron, and is also the Lieutenant Governor of Western Australia. He was appointed inaugural Chair of the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity in 2013 and served in that capacity until 2017.

He retired from the office of Chief Justice in July 2018.

The Hon Christine Wheeler AO KC
The Hon Christine Wheeler AO KC graduated from the University of Western Australia with a Bachelor of Jurisprudence with Honours. After graduation she worked as Professional Assistant to the Solicitor-General of Western Australia, Sir Ronald Wilson. Following a year in London where she obtained a Master of Laws with Distinction from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Ms Wheeler returned to The University of Western Australia to complete the Bachelor of Laws. She then served articles at the Crown Law Department and was admitted in December 1980.

Ms Wheeler’s roles at Crown Law included as Legal Officer, Assistant Crown Solicitor, Head of Policy and Law Reform, and Senior Assistant Crown Solicitor.

In 1994, Ms Wheeler was called to the Bar. She was also appointed a part time Judicial Registrar of the Industrial Relations Court of Australia. She took silk in 1996 becoming the first woman in Western Australia to be appointed as a Queen's Counsel. During this time she also served as a Commissioner at the District Court of Western Australia.

From 1996, Ms Wheeler was a Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, the first woman appointed to that Court. Ms Wheeler was appointed Pro-Chancellor of The University of Western Australia from 2001 to 2005.

From 2005, she was one of the inaugural Judges of the Court of Appeal of Western Australia.

She retired from the court in 2010.

Ms Wheeler was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in the 2013 Australia Day Honours. Her service to the legal community includes time as President of the Young Lawyers’ Association, President of the Women Lawyers of Western Australia and Chair of The Piddington Society.

Emeritus Professor William Ford

Emeritus Professor Bill Ford completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Education at the University of Western Australia and a postgraduate Diploma of Library and Information Science at UNSW. Professor Ford was appointed Law Branch Librarian at UWA in 1969. He studied law part time and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) degree in 1975. Professor Ford was Law Librarian of the University of Melbourne from 1976 until returning to UWA as a lecturer in law in 1978. In 1980 he took two years leave to serve as High Court Librarian in Canberra.

Professor Ford was Sub-Dean of the UWA Law School between 1982 and 1984, and editor of the Law Review from 1978 to 1986.

With two Melbourne colleagues, Professor Ford published a widely used casebook on Australian industrial law in 1983. Soon thereafter he became actively involved in the process of negotiating employment conditions in the Australian higher education sector. 

In 1993 Professor Ford co-authored a major textbook entitled Labour Law: Text and Materials. He successfully sought admission to legal practice in Western Australia and in 1994 became a consultant in employment and industrial law with Dwyer Durack.

Professor Ford became Dean and Head of the Law School in January 2001. He was promoted to Professor of Law in 2004 and became Deputy Chair of the Council of Australian Law Deans (‘CALD’) in 2005 and in January 2006 was reappointed as Dean for a further five years.

Professor Ford finished his second term as Dean of Law in March 2011. He retired from the academic staff of the University in July of 2011, becoming an Emeritus Professor in December of that year. In 2013 he was presented with the Chancellor’s Medal ‘for sustained and outstanding service to the University.’ Since retiring he has continued his association with the Law School.

The Hon Malcolm McCusker AC CVO KC

The Hon Malcolm McCusker AC CVO KC graduated from UWA Law School in 1959.  He went on to article at Kott Wallace & Gunning and was admitted to practice in Western Australia in December 1961. In 1989 Mr McCusker was appointed special inspector to investigate the Rothwells Bank collapse and in 1993 he was appointed Chairman of the Western Australian Constitutional Committee. He was then appointed inaugural Chairman of the Advisory Board of the WA Constitutional Centre and continued in that position until June 2011.  

In 2005 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to the legal profession, and WA Citizen of the Year (Professions).  In 2010, he was again recognised as WA Citizen of the Year (Community Service) and Western Australia’s finalist for Australian of the Year.  

From July 2011 to June 2014 he was Governor of Western Australia. He was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) by Elizabeth II and was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in the 2012 Australian Day Honours List, for “service as a lawyer, an advocate for sustainable development and education and philanthropy in medical research, youth and arts organizations”.
After retiring as Governor in June 2014, he resumed practice as a barrister. In 2018-2019 he was Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Assisted Dying and in 2021 he was appointed Chairman of Government Expert Panel on Electoral Reform. 

He has been Chairman of Law Access WA since 2018, Chairman of WA Health Translation Network since 2014, and Chairman of the UWA McCusker Centre for Citizenship since 2015.  He is a director and Chairman of the McCusker Charitable Foundation, Patron of Ear Science Institute and the West Coast Eagles.

The Hon Neville Owen

The Hon Neville Owen graduated from UWA with an LLB (Hons) in 1969.

Mr Owen was a legal practitioner from 1970 to 1991 and was a partner in the firm Robinson Cox (now Clayton Utz). From February 1991 until July 2010 he was a judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia and was one of the inaugural members of the Court of Appeal when it was created in February 2005. In the (almost) 20 years he was on the bench he conducted trials and appeals in all areas of the Court’s civil and criminal jurisdictions.

Since his retirement from the Court, he has been active in the alternative dispute resolution field, acting as mediator and arbitrator in a wide variety of commercial and other matters. In December 2010 he was appointed as Chair of the Electoral Distribution Commissioners, He held this post until 2016.

An Adjunct Professor of Law at UWA Law School, Mr Owen has spent considerable time working in the University sector, including as Chancellor of The University of Notre Dame.

From 2013 to 2018 he was chair of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, a body set up by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia to act as the interface between Church Authorities and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In 2018, Pope Francis appointed him as a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and a Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory the Great.

Enid Russell
              When UWA Law School opened to students in 1928 it welcomed 21 students, 4 of them women. Enid Russell, having just completed her Bachelor of Arts at UWA, was one of those women, and in 1930 she became the first women graduate of UWA Law School. 

As a result of her articles and her law degree, Ms Russell was admitted as a legal practitioner in Western Australia on 17 March 1931, the first woman to be so admitted on the basis of studies completed in Western Australia.

In 1934, Ms Russell began to indulge her desire to travel, moving to London. Following the war, Ms Russell returned to Perth and re-entered legal practice, at the same time being engaged by UWA Law School to lecture on a part-time basis between 1946 and 1951, as well as serving as the Law School’s librarian. She also worked on the editorial committee of the Law School’s Annual Law Review, which commenced publication in 1948.

In 1951, Russell left Perth and commenced working as a solicitor in the practice of Alec Edwin Ball in the Western Australian country town of Harvey. While at Harvey she continued to involve herself in the local community such as through work with the Girl Guides.

She continued to work for several more years at Harvey, but by 1958 she had been diagnosed with cancer, and so she returned to South Perth where she had grown up, working when she was well enough in the Perth firm Downing & Downing. She died on 24 September 1958, at the age of only 54 years. Throughout her professional life she had worked to promote university education for women, and her estate especially endowed the University of WA with funds for the establishment of a women’s college.

John Fiocco

John Fiocco graduated from UWA Law School in 1972. As a law student he was elected President, Blackstone Society and was Deputy Chair, Education Committee, Guild of Undergraduates.

While completing his Articles of Clerkship with a Perth Law Firm, and practicing Law after admission in 1973, John taught Commercial and Industrial Law in the Department of Economics and Commerce at The University of Western Australia.

In 1975 John was nominated by The University of Western Australia for the award of an ITT International Fellowship but went on to complete a Master of Law Degree (LL.M) at the University of Virginia, Law School, USA in 1977. While at the University of Virginia he was elected President, Virginia Graduate Law.

Following his return to Western Australia, John commenced teaching at UWA Law School, principally tasked with the teaching of Civil Procedure, previously taught by retired Judge Gresley Clarkson and Malcolm McCusker KC. He jointly published with Stephen Owen-Conway KC "Civil Procedure in Western Australia; A Practice Manual”, a widely used student text for the teaching of Civil Procedure in Western Australia. He also undertook lecturing and tutoring in Constitutional Law, Employment Law, Partnership Law, Agency and Evidence.

John taught at UWA Law School until 2019. During which time he was nominated for Law School Teaching Excellence Awards five times.

From 1988, John practiced in partnership and as a sole practitioner during which time he was a Curriculum Consultant, University of Notre Dame Australia (1999), Consultant to the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia, Review of Criminal and Civil Justice System in Western Australia (Project 92) (1999) and Consultant to the Magistrate's Court Reform Project (2005).

During his period as a legal practitioner, John was elected a Life Member of the Law Society of Western Australia (2010) and Law Society of Western Australia, Lawyer of the Year (2015). He served as an Elected member of the Legal Practice Board for 19 years; 2 of those years as Chair.

In 2017, John joined Fourth Floor Chambers, practicing exclusively as a Barrister, when in 2018 he was a Consultant to the State Government of Western Australia, Security of Payment Reform in the WA Building and Construction Industry "Fiocco Report", published 31 October 2018.

He continues to publish as a joint author of loose-leaf commentaries on Western Australian Workers Compensation and Health and Safety legislation.

John is married with 3 children and 5 grandchildren.

Peter Handford
Born in Birmingham, UK, Peter completed his LLB at Birmingham University before going on to complete his LLB (now LLM) at Trinity Hall, Cambridge.  He began lecturing at Leister University in 1970.  In 1977 he came to UWA Law School as a Visiting Lecturer.  

This visit became permanent and Peter taught at the Law School until 2016 (continuing in a part-time capacity between 1983 and 1998 when he was the Executive Officer and Director of Research of the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia). He was appointed a Professor in 2004. Peter was the Law School's Deputy Dean until September 2012. Between 2009 and 2012 he was responsible for curriculum reform and planning the transition from the LLB to the JD. He retired in July 2016 and is now a Senior Honorary Research Fellow.

Peter has been a member of the editorial board of the Tort Law Review since 1993. He was the Executive Officer and Director of Research of the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia between 1983 and 1998, and in that capacity was the author of reports on limitation of actions, wills, probate, spent convictions, Police Act offences and sale of goods. He was also a member of the Commission between 1993 and 1995. Between 1995 and 1997 he was the Western Australian representative on the Uniform Succession Law National Project Committee, and between 2004 and 2019 was a member of the Attorney General's Working Group reviewing the law of succession in Western Australia.

Between 2000 and 2022 Peter was a member of the Francis Burt Law Education Programme Advisory Committee, and from 2013 to 2022 he was the chair of the sub-committee responsible for the oral history programme and the Old Court House Museum. The Francis Burt Law Education Programme provides community legal education programmes and promotes the community's understanding of the law and the legal system. The Museum now operates independently of the Francis Burt Law Education Programme. Peter continues to act as a consultant to the Museum on matters of West Australian legal history. Peter is currently writing a History of the UWA Law School scheduled for publication when the Law School reaches its centenary.