Scholarship to honour a golden legacy

By Andy Walsh

The Honourable Alan Goldberg AO QC's service to law and the community has been recognised by having a perpetual scholarship named in his honour.

Alan Goldberg 

In September this year, Mr Goldberg celebrated 50 years since he was called to the Bar following completion of his studies at Melbourne Law School, articles at Darvall & Hambleton and a Fulbright Scholarship to Yale.

He then served as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia between 1997 and 2010 before returning to the Bar as a mediator and arbitrator, and a mentor to junior barristers.

It is across this more than five-decades career that Mr Goldberg has built up a name for himself as a fierce ally, formidable opponent, and wise judge.

But casting aside his intimidating reputation in the courtroom, it is Mr Goldberg's courtesy and humour that, above all, he is renowned for.

This was clear when hearing the plaudits bestowed on him as his generous friends launched the Hon. Alan Goldberg AO QC Scholarship at Arnold Bloch Leibler last month.

The scholarship acknowledges Mr Goldberg's remarkable legal career and his contribution within and beyond the Australian legal profession.

It will be awarded to incoming Melbourne Juris Doctor students based on academic merit and serious financial need.

Notable names filled the room at the launch; among them, The Hon. Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria, Justice of the High Court of Australia the Hon. Michelle Gordon, as well as other dignitaries, the major donors and Mr Goldberg's family – all there for one man.

Close friend and colleague the Hon. Susan Crennan AC QC, who spoke at the event, said one of Mr Goldberg's greatest legacies as a judge was that losing parties could leave his court feeling they had been treated with unfailing politeness and abundant fairness.

"He had an inexhaustible capacity to consider all sides of a case including the funny side," she said.

Outside of the law, Mr Goldberg is known for his love of the arts and performance, and his generosity in these areas has been recognised with distinctions such as being made an Honorary Life Member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

It was this enormous contribution to public life that saw him made an officer in the Order of Australia in 2005, captured succinctly in the citation.

"For service to the judiciary, particularly in the areas of competition law and equity, and to the community as a contributor to debate on human rights and civil liberties, and as a supporter of the arts."

It is clear that Ms Crennan is not alone when she said friendship with Mr Goldberg is life-enhancing.

"It is a privilege to share the earth with him," she said.

"This scholarship will extend that privilege to the younger members of the legal community."

The funding for the scholarship was provided by donors Marcus Besen AC and Eva Besen AO, Gandel Philanthropy, the Lew Foundation, and the Pratt Foundation.

Both Dean of MLS Professor Carolyn Evans and University of Melbourne Chancellor Elizabeth Alexander AM recognised the remarkable career of Mr Goldberg and his willingness to invest in and inspire future members of the legal community.

"We are immensely proud to count (Mr Goldberg) as an alumnus," Ms Alexander said.

Dean Professor Evans described the way in which scholarships like this can be life-changing for students, and noted that future generations of scholarship winners would look to Mr Goldberg's example for inspiration in their own careers and studies.

University of Melbourne alumnus and Senior Partner at Arnold Bloch Leibler (ABL) Mark Leibler spoke about the importance of the scholarship:

The Alan Goldberg Scholars will create a lasting recognition of Alan's deep commitment to the law, and his abiding love and support of education. We believe this scholarship will play a significant role in the lives of many talented young Australians who aspire to achieve a fine legal education at Melbourne Law School.

A humble man, Mr Goldberg said he had come a long way since his first fee totalled 10 guineas.

And despite all of his success and achievements, he is thankful for more than just having his legacy enshrined in a scholarship; he is thankful for the friendships and trust of those who gave him a standing ovation as he stepped from the stage in ABL's offices almost 100 metres above the streets of Melbourne.

"I have had a fortunate life in my many endeavours," he said.

Image: Alan Goldberg AO at the scholarship launch
Credit: supplied by Arnold Bloch Leibler

This article originally appeared in MLS News, Issue 14, October 2015.