It may be one of the world’s oldest legal documents, but a win by Professor David Clark at the Law Society’s ‘Bulletin of the Year’ awards tonight (Friday, 3 August) proved Magna Carta still resonates with the current generation of lawyers.
Professor Clark, who published his article, The Legacy of Magna Carta in June’s Bulletin, is one of the world’s leading experts on the incredibly famous, but not quite as well read, legal tour de force.
Flinders University graduate Emily Sims also took one of the top gongs on Friday, winning the Gray Young Lawyer of the Year Award, which recognises a Young Lawyer who has made an outstanding contribution to the legal profession and the community.
Ms Sims graduated from Flinders in 2010 with First Class Honours and a University Medal. She then became an Associate to Justice Gray in the Supreme Court of South Australia.
At the completion of her associateship, she volunteered for the United Nations, working for the prosecution at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, where she was an integral member of the team that successfully prosecuted two senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge.
In Professor Clark’s Magna Carta piece, he deconstructed the document’s history and related myths, and showed how it had persisted throughout history to become part of the world’s intellectual inheritance.
He also looked at how Magna Carta was used in present day legal and political arguments, and why it still matters to society at large.
His and Ms Sims’s award were presented at the Law Society’s Annual Dinner.
Professor Kim Economides, Dean of Flinders Law School, said Professor Clark had a “rare gift of being able to make complex ideas both interesting and accessible”.
“We at Flinders Law School feel very proud, but not at all surprised, that David Clark has won this award,” said Professor Economides.
“His article confirms his reputation as a leading authority on Magna Carta able to explain the underlying significance of this unique document, and without prolixity.
“It’s especially pleasing to see these qualities recognised not only by scholars but also by the legal profession.”
Professor Economides praised Ms Sims, saying that she was a “fine example of the kind of person that Flinders Law School attracts and develops”.
“Not only is Emily academically brilliant but she has applied her knowledge to serve those fighting injustice in very challenging situations overseas,” he said.
“I admire her courage and dedication to helping those less fortunate and am delighted she has received this award.
“It is enlightened and committed lawyers like Emily that will make cynical jokes about the legal profession moribund.”
Professor Clark’s recent work on the Great Charter includes an invited paper for a book on Magna Carta by the American Bar Association that appeared last year and a paper in a collection published by Cambridge University Press in June this year.
He also has papers that will appear in the Australian Law Journal and the Canterbury Law Review, and will present at a special seminar on Magna Carta at the invitation of the Australian Senate next month.