LLB 1955, MA 1972
Prior to his retirement in 1989, James Moore spanned the legal profession and public service, culminating in his role as Deputy Director-General in the NSW Premier’s Department where he had a role in the provision of advice to Premiers Wran, Unsworth and Greiner.
What made you decide to study law, and why did you choose Sydney Law School?
None of my relatives had any legal contacts and I was the first member of the family to undertake university studies. My selective high school provided no career advice but in 1950 it was possible to have a job and study law part-time at the University of Sydney, which was then the only law school in NSW. My interests were literary rather than scientific or technical so law seemed the way to go.
Where has the study of law taken you in your career and/or life in general?
I worked as a legal officer in the Land Titles Office for ten years and was involved in developing the initial Strata Titles legislation which was enacted in 1961. During this time I wrote articles for the Australian Law Journal on property law and was a joint author of the first text book on Strata Titles and these proved to be useful career-aiding activities.
After ten years I decided to move into public sector management and with this in mind I obtained a secondment to the NSW Public Service Board and commenced an MA in the University of Sydney 's School of Government and Public Administration.
My first permanent management position was in 1968 as Deputy Bursar (Property) at the University of NSW, where I worked for 12 years supervising the university's building program and liaising with the university's solicitors as required.
I returned to the NSW Public Service in 1980 as assistant secretary in the Department of Services which was the ministerial office for the minister for Police and Emergency Services and coordinated a range of other authorities within the minister's responsibility.
A year or so later the department was abolished and I was technically without a job but within a few weeks I was on trial as an acting assistant secretary in the NSW Premier's Department. My appointment was confirmed and I became Deputy Director-General of the department before my retirement in 1989. During my eight years in Premier's Department I had a role in the provision of advice to Premiers Wran, Unsworth and Greiner. Any policy or problem in the NSW public sector soon involves the Premier and this period was the most stimulating and challenging of my working life. Many of these issues had a legal content and although I had not read the law reports since 1968 my legal training provided a framework and technique for dealing with them.
What is your fondest memory of your time at Sydney Law School?
I graduated in 1955 and like many others I have grateful memories of Professor Julius Stone, a man of great wisdom and patience, who had international status as a writer in jurisprudence and international law. His lectures opened my eyes to the place of law in society and I still have his Province and Function of Law on my shelf.
What one piece of advice would you give to law students today?
Be flexible. Law is an excellent generalist qualification as well as an entry to a professional legal career.
I have never regretted my decision to do law. The study of real life problems and their solution by the judicial process provided me with a technique which served me well both in my private life and in various areas of employment.