The Hal Wootten Lecture was established in 2006 by UNSW Law & Justice in honour of founding Dean, Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten. This lecture is a highlight of the Faculty's year and commemorates Hal Wootten's founding vision for the Faculty – that a Law School should have and communicate to its students a keen concern for those on whom the law bears harshly. 

2023 – The Hon. Mark Dreyfus KC MP

Join us for the 2023 Hal Wootten Lecture on Thursday 12 October 2023. This year we are honoured to have the Honourable Mark Dreyfus KC MP, Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia present the Hal Wootten Lecture.

This year's lecture is also a keynote event of the 2023 UNSW Australian Human Rights Institute’s conference, Accountability in crisis: the rise of impunity as a challenge to human rights.

Event details:
Thursday 12 October 2023
6.30pm - 7.30pm
Law Theatre G04, UNSW Sydney

Previous lectures in this series

  • A nudge in the right direction: In 2008, Hal Wootten spoke of his belief that “every now and then there is the opportunity to give a little nudge that sends the law along the direction it ought to go”.

    In the 2022 Hal Wootten Lecture, Chief Justice Kiefel discusses landmark cases that have shaped Australian common law, tracing the development of legal principles arising from those cases and highlighting how these cases are the culmination of past judicial “nudges” in the right direction.

    Watch the lecture

    Read Chief Justice Kiefel's speech

  • Jen Robinson reflects on Hal’s legacy and the role of law in protecting human rights, addressing the climate crisis and contributing to progressive social change. Drawing on examples from her own practice and experience around the world, Jen shares her own journey, how she came to share and espouse Hal’s view about “living greatly in the law” and why it is more relevant now than ever before.

    Watch the lecture

    Read Jennifer Robinson’s speech

  • Noel Pearson reflected on Indigenous Self Determination and The Uluru Statement from the Heart.

    Watch the lecture

    Read the article 

  • UNSW Law & Justice alumna and former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick AO reflected on her life in the law as she delivered the 11th Hal Wootten Lecture. Broderick discussed her journey from her early interest in STEM, experiences as a UNSW Law & Justice student and how she pioneered the establishment of a legal technology practice. Broderick has dedicated her career to working tirelessly to break down structural and social barriers women and men face to strengthen the laws on gender equality.

    Read Elizabeth Broderick’s speech

    Read Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten’s vote of thanks

    Watch the lecture

  • Bret Walker SC delivered the 2016 Hal Wootten lecture on 'Lawyers and Politics'. Bret Walker is an Australian barrister who has served as President of the Law Council of Australia and President of the New South Wales Bar Association. He is currently the nominee of the New South Wales Bar Association on the Legal Services Council. 

    Read Bret Walker's speech

    Watch the lecture

    Listen to the audio of the lecture

  • Julian Burnside AO QC  delivered the 2015 Hal Wootten lecture - 'The bludgeonings of chance'. Julian Burnside is a distinguished Australian barrister, human rights advocate and author. In 2014, he was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. 

    Read Julian Burnside's speech

    Watch the lecture

    Read Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten's response to the lecture

  • Professor Richard Abel delivered the 2014 Hal Wootten lecture - 'How to be a 'Good Lawyer': Lessons from the American 'War on Terror'. Professor Abel is the Michael J. Connell Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor, UCLA.

    Read Professor Richard Abel's speech

    Watch the lecture

    Read Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten's response to the lecture

  • Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE QC delivered the 2012 Hal Wootten Lecture on 'Lessons from a Life in the Law'. Sir Gerard is an Australian lawyer, judge and tenth Chief Justice of Australia whose career has spanned over 60 years.

    Read Sir Gerard Brennan's speech

    Watch the lecture

    Read Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten's response to the lecture

  • The 2011 Hal Wootten Lecture was delivered by Professor Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, University of Chicago

    'Not for Profit: Why Legal Education Needs the Humanities'.

    Read Professor Nussbaum's speech

    Read Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten's response to the lecture

  • The 2010 Hal Wootten Lecture was delivered by Albie Sachs, former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

    'A man called Henri: Truth, reconciliation, justice and gross violations of the past'

    Read Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten's response to the lecture

  • The 2009 Hal Wootten Lecture was delivered by Hina Jilani, Pakistani Human Rights Lawyer.

    'Human Rights and International Peace and Security'

  • The Hal Wootten Lecture 2008 was delivered by Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten AC QC.

    'Living in the Law' or a response to Justice Holmes' question: 'How can the laborious study of a dry and technical system, the greedy watch for clients and the practice of shopkeepers' arts, the mannerless conflicts over often sordid interests, make out a life?'.

    Read Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten's speech

  • The Hal Wootten Lecture 2007 was delivered by former High Court Justice the Hon Michael McHugh AC QC.

    'The Impact of High Court Decisions on the Governance of Australia'

    Read the Hon Michael McHugh's speech

    Read Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten's response to the lecture

  • The Hal Wootten Lecture 2006 was delivered by Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, Prime Minister of East Timor.

    'The inaugural Hal Wootten Lecture'

    Read Dr Jose Ramos-Horta's speech

    Read Emeritus Professor Hal Wootten's response to the lecture