APPOINTED a justice of the Victorian Supreme Court on Tuesday – the 11th Jewish legal figure to serve on its bench during a history spanning more than one-and-a-half centuries – is an honour that communal stalwart Ian Waller, KC, attributes to the support of his family, particularly his late father, iconic law educator Professor Louis Waller.
With his wife Adina, his mother Wendy and their family in attendance, Justice Waller was sworn in by Victorian Governor, Professor Margaret Gardner. The new governor’s role was poignant, he said. Gardner, as vice-chancellor of Monash University, had spoken at a communal tribute to his father last year.
“Whatever I have been able to achieve would not have been possible without the constant love and support of my family, particularly my wife,” he reflected to The AJN.
Justice Waller will sit on the Supreme Court’s Commercial Court, utilising his skills in corporations law, trade practices, trusts, property, professional negligence and class actions. He described his appointment as “a great honour and a profound responsibility”.
Joining the Victorian Bar in 1989, he took silk in 2007. He holds a Bachelor and Master of Laws from the University of Melbourne and has served as a member of the Victorian Legal Admissions Committee since 2008.
“The fact that my father was a teacher of law, a law scholar, has had some impact and made some impression … My parents – and my father in particular – never insisted that we pursue any particular path. But I’m equally sure that his example influenced me,” said Waller, who in his teens spent a summer working for a legal firm and sitting in on court cases, which he found “absolutely mesmerising”. It led to a career at the bar.
Congratulating Waller, the Supreme Court stated it “warmly welcomes the appointment”.
Waller has been active in the Jewish community for years, an involvement also inspired by his father. “From my early days in Bnei Akiva, I have enjoyed making such a contribution.” He was president of the Mizrachi Organisation in 2011-16 and has been a trustee of the Melbourne Chevra Kadisha and a member of the national editorial board of Australia/Israel Review.
The Judicial College of Victoria welcomed Waller’s appointment to the Supreme Court bench. “Justice Waller has had a distinguished career in law … In his expansive career as a barrister, he developed a broad commercial practice.”
The new judge reflected, “As a Modern Orthodox Jew, I’m proud to be able to serve at the highest level of our state’s judicial system, without in any way compromising my religious beliefs or observance.”