The Hon Justice Geoffrey Robertson QC
BA 1967, LLB 1970, LLD 2006
Justice Geoffrey Robertson QC is a UN Appeal Judge and Queens Counsel, Master of the Middle Temple, Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of London, and best-selling author. He graduated from the University of Sydney Law School with an LLB in 1970.
Where has the study of law taken you in your career and/or life in general?
My own love affair with the law has gone through many stages - as a solicitor and a judge, a journalist and writer, a campaigner for its reform and, occasionally, a defender of its traditions. I have practiced mainly as a barrister, a career I value because of its utter independence: you have no boss or party line, no political allegiance or pressure. I live on my wits, and off them for that matter, and I would not exchange that personal freedom for careers of greater wealth or status. The satisfaction comes from enabling others to be free, or at least to enjoy the rights that should be available to them in any society ordered by the rule of law.
What is your fondest memory of your time at Sydney Law School?
At Sydney University, the ideals of the time demanded we should learn a different kinds of law to that which regulated conveyancing and commerce. We wanted to understand how it impacted upon the poor, so we could use it to improve their lot.
What one piece of advice would you give to law students today?
I am always reluctant to advise a career in law. Success in this profession comes only through hard and painstaking work at unreasonable hours and in arcane language, often in tedious company and on behalf of unpreposessing clients... If it is money you want to make, become an estate agent or manage a hedge fund. That said, the law and how it is practiced is the ultimate test of the civilisation of any society.