It’s the journal traditionally heralded as holding the most topical of legal issues. With a new General Editor and expanded editorial board, The Australian Law Journal (ALJ) is going through an exciting process of rejuvenation. To celebrate its 90th anniversary, we look behind the scenes of the ALJ and learn more about the editorial board and their collaborative content selection process. — by Azadeh Williams
The national law journal
Since May 1927, the ALJ has published articles, case notes and book reviews around the timeliest legal topics in our country. The journal is widely read and relied upon as a source of accurate legal authority for judges, barristers, legal practitioners, academics and students, and it forms an integral part of the greater canon of Australian legal commentary.
Behind the scenes is a small, carefully selected group of editors who collaborate painstakingly to produce each issue. Together with its General Editor, the Honourable Justice François Kunc – who succeeded the ALJ’s longest-serving General Editor, the Honourable Acting Justice Peter Young AO, in May 2016 – the editorial board is ushering in a new era for the journal.
As the recently appointed General Editor, Justice Kunc outlined a clear mission for the ALJ: to reach the key pillars of the legal community and to bring together an editorial board that represents the ALJ’s key customers. Dr Nuncio D’Angelo is a commercial law firm partner with academic interests, Dr Ruth Higgins is a barrister and academic, Clare Langford is a young associate and Angelina Gomez is a corporate practitioner.
Introducing Dr Nuncio D’Angelo – Assistant General Editor, ALJ
As the journal’s most recently appointed assistant editor, Dr Nuncio D’Angelo was invited to the board in 2016 by Justice Kunc, who selected him given his dual interests as an academic and partner at Norton Rose Fulbright.
With several decades of experience in corporate, commercial and banking practice, Dr D’Angelo says his first encounter with the ALJ was when he was a student in the 1980s. The journal had such an impact on him at the time that he scraped together his own money to purchase a subscription.
“Whenever it comes up in conversation, I’m always proud to say I’m on the editorial board of the ALJ, especially since its rejuvenation under our new General Editor,” Dr D’Angelo says.
On the editorial process itself, there is a standing arrangement to meet at the judge’s chambers to discuss developments for the ALJ on the first Tuesday of every month. Dr D’Angelo attests it can be a very lively and democratic discussion, and each person is able to freely voice their opinion about an article and make suggestions.
“Going through the article selection process, we first question whether it is quality content that is relevant to our readership. We also consider how interesting it is to our audience, and whether it’s topical, of the moment and possibly even controversial.”
Dr D’Angelo says the collaborative process is enjoyable, especially as everyone’s opinions are respected and valued.
“Because our backgrounds are very different, we all bring our different experiences and viewpoints to the table, but at the end of the day it is a very collaborative exercise.”
While the editorial team does have a lot of fun and enjoys the selection process, the board takes the task of producing the best possible content very seriously.
“The effort we make to create relevant and interesting content is reflected in the feedback we often get from our readers. I’m very proud to play a small part in it – I think we all are.”
Introducing Dr Ruth Higgins – Assistant General Editor, ALJ
Dr Ruth Higgins joined the ALJ’s editorial board in 2015 and is responsible for editing the journal’s recent cases, including High Court decisions.
An award-winning barrister, she practises at Banco Chambers in matters relating to competition, public, commercial and energy law, as well as media and corporate criminal law matters.
“I came to Australia in 1999, and when I started working at Gilbert and Tobin, the ALJ was one of the journals to which we subscribed, and a source we all reliably turned to,” Dr Higgins says. “For me, it was the first touchstone of a legal journal in Australia, so it resonated with me from the get-go.
“I think it’s hugely flattering to have been asked to join the board, and it’s also exciting to be part of the ALJ while it is being re-energised.”
Introducing Clare Langford – Assistant General Editor, ALJ
The youngest member of the editorial board, Clare Langford is a young lawyer working in Sydney and also acted as tipstaff to the former General Editor, Justice Young.
Responsible for the journal’s Personalia column, Langford has been on the board for three years.
“I came across the ALJ as a legal research tool when I was a student, and it’s always been a bit of a secret weapon for me as a junior lawyer,” Langford says. “If you can find an ALJ article about a particular subject, it’s likely to draw together all of the cases on a particular topic, and that really gives you an advantage in your work.”
Looking back on some of the ALJ’s key milestones, Langford recalls bidding farewell to the former General Editor as particularly memorable.
“This year, I think a very special moment for the ALJ is celebrating our 90th anniversary edition.”
Introducing Angelina Gomez – Assistant General Editor, ALJ
The longest-serving member of the editorial board, legal practitioner Angelina Gomez joined the law journal in 2005, after being personally invited by Justice Young when she was studying for the bar exam, and acting as a tipstaff to Justice Hamilton.
Based in Western Australia and specialising in litigation and dispute resolution at Clifford Chance, Gomez is also the books editor for the journal and is responsible for selecting book reviews in each issue.
“I went to Sydney University, and one of the sources I went to in order to find out about the law was the ALJ,” Gomez says. “I just found it a good place to go to for a good read of the law, and it was something I perpetually used when I wrote essays. In fact, so affectionate was I with the ALJ that when I graduated, I actually took a photo near the shelf of all the ALJ issues.”
Looking at the evolution of the journal, Gomez says it feels good to be part of something that’s so widely recognised in the industry.
“I essentially grew up with the ALJ, having used it since I was a law student. It felt surreal to join the editorial committee at first, and still does sometimes.”
“The ALJ has much more cutting edge now, and we’re addressing a lot of issues that are current and topical under Justice Kunc’s leadership, and I think it will stand the test of time. It is the Australian Law Journal, and being part of it is both a privilege and humbling.”
In addition to the Editorial Board, there have also been new Section Editors appointed recently including:
- Legal Observer – Michael Pelly
- From the Law Schools – Emeritus Professor Michael Coper
- Statutory Interpretation – The Hon Justice John Basten
- Family Law – Dr Richard Ingleby
- Property and Conveyancing – Professor Brendan Edgeworth and Robert Angyal SC
- ACT – The Hon Justice John Dominic Burns
- SA – The Hon Justice Kevin Nicholson
Another major initiative for the ALJ this year includes co-hosting a national conference to examine the future of Australian legal education. The conference marks the 90th anniversary of the ALJ, along with the 10th anniversary of the Australian Academy of Law (AAL) and the 30th anniversary of the Pearce Report.
Held on 11–13 August 2017 at the Federal Court of Australia in the Queens Square Law Courts Building in Sydney, the conference will be a forum for an informed, national discussion on the future of legal study and practice in Australia, covering practitioners, academics, judges and students.
Find out more about the Editorial Board, the new Section Editors and the upcoming developments in the ALJ including The Future of Australian Legal Education conference, or register for the ALJ Alerts on Journals Talk today.