The Professions in Australia project led by Professor John Western was the first major inquiry into the legal profession. In Australia, the pinnacle of a legal career is judicial appointment. In the half century since the first survey in Western’s ground-breaking research, much has changed. Perhaps most significant is the entry of women into the legal profession, even, eventually into the judiciary.  A second major shift is attention to the ordinary, everyday activities of judges and courts, revealing the craftwork needed to manage practical aspects of judicial work.  Courts are places of considerable human interaction, and so judicial practice must necessarily entail emotion work, challenging the conventional image of the judge as a detached, dispassionate male figure. Judicial officers are human and increasingly diverse and must deploy human qualities and social skills to effectively perform their legal authority.  

Speaker bio:

This year's lecture is delivered by Sharyn Roach Anleu, a Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor in Sociology at Flinders University, Adelaide.

Professor Roach Anleu is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, a former President of The Australian Sociological Association and previously a member of the Australian Research Council College of Experts.  Her research spans gender and the legal profession, regulation, law and social change, guilty pleas, and courts and the judiciary. Since 2000, Sharyn has led the Judicial Research Project, with Emerita Professor Kathy Mack, a multi-year, multi-method, socio-legal study of courts and judicial officers throughout Australia. 

About John Western Memorial Lecture

The John Western Memorial Lecture is a biennial public lecture jointly sponsored by the Institute for Social Science Research and the School of Social Science at The University of Queensland to commemorate John Western’s contribution to the social sciences.

The late Emeritus Professor John Western became the first professor of sociology at UQ and Head of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology in 1970. Some 26 years later, John retired but continued to be an active researcher, writer and doctoral supervisor. He was made a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 1984, and was elected to the Swiss Academy of Development in 1989. In 2009, John’s dedication to tertiary education and more specifically the development of sociology nationally and internationally was recognised when he became a member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia. John Western passed away on 6 January 2011.