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AGL Shaw Lecture: Law, Lawyers and La Trobe

April 20, 2021 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm


Three. That was the number of Attorneys practising in Melbourne when Charles Joseph Latrobe arrived in the Port Phillip colony in 1839. The legal infrastructure of the colony was similarly scant. It included a Police Magistrate, a civil magistrate, mounted police, two justices of the peace, a police court, a gaoler, a flagellator, two clerks of court but no dedicated court-house.  That was it for a population of 5,822. When Latrobe left in 1854, some 15 years later, the scene was quite different. The now independent colony of Victoria had seen 186 attorneys/solicitors and 63 barristers admitted to practise in that period. There was also a substantial Supreme Court building (and bluestone gaol) with three justices (including a Chief Justice) who had the capacity to hear and interpret the new Victorian statute book. There were also the stirrings of an organised legal profession. The rule of law had been firmly established.

So, what can we say about the evolution of Victoria’s legal system during Latrobe’s time? What prompted its start, who were the key personalities and what were key moments?

Leading legal scholar, Dr Simon Smith AM FRHSV, will be addressing the above questions when he delivers the 2021 AGL Shaw Lecture which forms part of the RHSV’s Distinguished Lecture series. This lecture is jointly presented by the C. J. La Trobe Society and the RHSV and is always a convivial and lavishly-catered evening. The event will be held in the RHSV’s Gallery Downstairs which is totally accessible and does not involve any stairs. 

RHSV members please note the later than usual start time for this event. 


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April 20, 2021
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Category:


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
03 9326 9288


RHSV, Gallery Downstairs
239 A'Beckett Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000 Australia
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03 9326 9288