The Federation Press

Encounters with Constitutional Interpretation and Legal Education

Essays in Honour of Michael Coper


What do constitutional interpretation and legal education have in common?

For one thing, they share the same tension between theory and practice, between form and substance, between process and outcomes, between constancy and change, and between local and comparative perspectives. Each also has a substratum of fundamental underlying values that demand, but do not always receive, clear articulation.

For another thing, they have both been the subject of illuminating examination by Michael Coper over the course of a long and distinguished career.

An extraordinary group of authors, including Justice Stephen Gageler, the Hon Michael Kirby and Sir Anthony Mason, come together in this book to celebrate Coper’s achievement, and take his various contributions as a jumping off point for their own further scholarly insights.

From the gripping story of the revolution that swept away the old law on section 92 of the Constitution, to the endemic conflict in the judicial process between legalism and realism, to the never-ending controversy about the Dismissal, to perceiving the world and organising legal knowledge in new ways through biography and oral history, to the role of educators in shaping the views and values of newcomers to this knowledge, this book contains over a dozen sparkling essays by some of Australia’s most renowned and respected lawyers, as well as a substantial reflective commentary by Michael Coper himself.

Table of Contents

About the Contributors

Table of Cases
Table of Statutes

         The Hon Sir Anthony Mason

Prologue:  Encounters with Michael Coper’s Career and the Search for New Ways Forward
         John Williams

Part I: Three Constitutional Conundrums
1.  The Section 92 Revolution
         The Hon Stephen Gageler

2.  The Elusive Promise of the Inter-State Commission
         Andrew Bell SC

3.  Power and Propriety: Coper’s Encounter with the Dismissal
         Ryan Goss

Part II: The ‘Intractable Dilemma’ of the Judicial Process
4.  New Ways Forward
         The Hon Michael Kirby

5.  Between Realism and Legalism: Michael Coper and the Enduring Appeal of Cole v Whitfield
         Adrienne Stone
6.  Fidelity to External (Re)sources
         Tony Blackshield

Part III: Ways of Seeing and ‘Collecting the World’
7.  Law Through the Lens of Biography
         Heather Roberts
8.  Through the Lens of Oral History
         Garry Sturgess
9.  Through the Lens of an Encyclopaedia
         Helen Irving

Part IV: Lawyering and Leadership
10. Being a Lawyer: Professionalism, Values and Service
         Kim Economides
11.  Being a Law Dean: Aspiration and Reality
         Stephen Bottomley
12.  Being a Global Leader: Challenges of Internationalisation
         Duncan Bentley
         Michael Coper

Michael Coper — Select Publications

Of interest...