‘And I remember my uncle took me to lunch and I got the train back and I got in about midnight. One of the fellows stirred and said, “Hey, Tom. Where was you today?”
And I said, “I’ve been in Melbourne”.
“Oh, I know that. But what were you doin’?”
And I said, “Well, I was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria”.
And he looked at me and he said, “Whatever for?”
And I’ve wondered about that down the years.’ *
It’s 1940 in Melbourne. A young student named Tom Molomby graduates from the University of Melbourne, already on his way to an illustrious career as a barrister. A decade later, John Cain graduates from the University of Melbourne’s law school. He goes on to become the Premier of Victoria.
Victoria Law Foundation exists because Molomby and Cain decided they wanted to make the legal system more accessible for Victorians, and they realised the money accumulating from the trust accounts of Victorian solicitors could help them do it.
Victoria Law Foundation was established in 1967, and we celebrate our 50th birthday this year. Funded by the Victorian Legal Services Board Public Purpose Fund, our primary vision has always been to raise community understanding of, and access to, a better and more responsive justice system.
Over the years, we’ve funded the establishment of many legal bodies in Victoria, including the Law Reform Commission of Victoria, Leo Cussen Centre for Law, PILCH Homeless Persons Legal Clinic, now part of Justice Connect and Human Rights Law Resource Centre.
We’ve played a pivotal role in the growth and popularity of Law Week and giving rural, regional and disadvantage students an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the law through our Law Talks programs.
We have been instrumental in the development of better legal information for all Victorians including publications and the popular Everyday-Law website. If you have ever gone to a council and been given a booklet of neighbourhood disputes, dogs and cats or parking it was probably produced by us.
Sure, not everyone will have heard of us, but our legacy speaks volumes about the importance of our work and our place in the legal sector.
*Tom Molomby SC, interview by Jon Faine, ABC Radio.