ANU College of Law Emeritus Professor Dennis Pearce AO has been named as Canberra’s Public Law Lawyer of the Year in the 2016 Best Lawyers awards, a comprehensive, peer-reviewed evaluation of lawyers in specific practice areas around the world.
Professor Pearce, who has a distinguished career as an academic, public office holder and legal editor, is also noted by Best Lawyers Australia as a leader in the practice areas of government practice, intellectual property law, public law and regulatory practice.
“It is certainly an honour to get the award for being the best public lawyer in a city known for its expertise in public law.
“In many ways, I’ve always seen it as part of my academic role to make the law available and serviceable for practitioners.
“I’ve never been a theoretician – instead, my skill has been to order material, analyse it and put it in a way that is accessible to practising lawyers to help them do their job,” Professor Pearce said.
Dean of the ANU College of Law, Professor Stephen Bottomley, said the award was a recognition of Professor Pearce’s lifelong commitment to increasing knowledge and understanding of the law.
“Professor Pearce has dedicated his professional life to demystifying the complexities of the law – helping lawyers across Australia understand the significance of new legislative initiatives, new legal decisions and what they mean.
“The College couldn’t be more delighted to see Professor Pearce recognised and celebrated,” Professor Bottomley said.
Professor Pearce has had a long association with the ANU College of Law, gaining his Master of Laws in the 1960s and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1978. He joined the College as a Lecturer in 1968, was appointed a Professor in 1981, held the position of Dean between 1982–84 and 1991–93, and was the University’s acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 1994.
In addition to his roles with ANU, Professor Pearce has worked in a number of significant public posts, including Commonwealth and Defence Force Ombudsman, Chairman of the Australian Press Council, Member (and later Chair) of the Copyright Law Review Committee, foundation President of the ACT Racing Appeals Tribunal and the inaugural Chair of the Defence Force Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal.
Professor Pearce led a major review on Australian legal education and law schools in 1987, was awarded a Centenary Medal for his services to Copyright in 2001, and made an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2003.
Professor Pearce remains a significant contributor to the law, and continues to act as Special Counsel with HWL Ebsworth Lawyers. His recent publications include: Statutory Interpretation in Australia (with RS Geddes – LexisNexis Butterworths, 2014); Delegated Legislation (with S Argument – LexisNexis Butterworths, 2012); Administrative Appeals Tribunal (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2015); and various contributions in his role as Editor of the Australian Administrative Law Service and Australian Administrative Law Bulletin (LexisNexis Butterworths).
BY LYN LARKIN AND TIM GRAINGER