The Lore of Law

When members move on, organisations often lose their knowledge and experience, but collecting oral history can help to preserve their wisdom.

All sorts of organisations are seeing the potential of oral history for preserving their organisational knowledge, and the New South Wales Bar Association is already collecting the stories and experiences of some of its most prominent members.

The NSW Bar Association Oral History Collection contains in depth interviews with over a dozen former and current members of the Bar, including several Supreme Court judges, and Paul Daley – the Clerk of the famous Eleventh Floor Wentworth Chambers from 1961.

The Hon. Justice Margaret Beazley AO, the first female President of the NSW Court of Appeal (image courtesy of lawyersweekly.com.au)

The Hon. Justice Margaret Beazley AO, the first female President of the NSW Court of Appeal (image courtesy of lawyersweekly.com.au)

Through multiple, on-camera interviews each interviewee discusses their early years in the law, important or famous cases they have worked on, and explores the complex philosophical or legal issues that they have struggled with over the course of their career. Chester Porter QC discusses the importance of following up on ‘cold cases’, while the Hon. Justice Margaret Beazley AO reflects on the role of women at the Bar throughout her long career, and the Hon. Michael McHugh AC QC explores issues around our constitution and a proposed bill of rights.

The NSW Bar Association is using oral history to collect and preserve the stories and experience, the ideas and anecdotes, the beliefs and philosophies of their members, ensuring that their knowledge can be retained and passed on to the next generation of the legal fraternity.

Could you see oral history playing a part in preserving your organisation’s knowledge?