John Gallagher, class of '64 - NSW Legal Aid Journal Tribute
After 26 and a half years, John Gallagher has retired as a Local Court lawyer at the Wollongong office. He also spent many years as a member of the Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee. As you can imagine after all that time John has a lot of memories. When asked about what he enjoyed the most in his long career he said “It was all the delightful people I worked with – all of my colleagues”. He also said he liked the clients: “I liked all of them, I could not have stayed here if I didn’t. I treated them with respect and kindnessand they treated me the same way.”
Elizabeth Parkes, the senior criminal lawyer in the Wollongong office said that John was a great character who was much loved by many of his clients. “He was an institution. He has a big heart and always saw the need to engage other services to deal with the issues our clients had and which often caused them to be in the criminal justice system. Many clients still ask about him. The office is not the same without him.”
Tyrone Phillips has known John for many years, both through work and socially and adds another dimension: “John is very active in Lions and is an ardent support of Father Chris Riley and his work with Youth Off the Streets. His encyclopaedic knowledge of Irish history can captivate any listener who shows the slightest interest.”
Richard Funston, Deputy CEO says: “John always had a bigger picture view regarding clients and the criminal justice system. He was a champion for fairness and making sure clients got a fair go. He never seemed to get burnt out or cynical – and treated everyone he associated with, including clients and the courts, with respect and compassion. John’s contribution on the criminal law committee of the Law Society was also very impressive and consistent. He frequently drafted excellent notes for the committee.”
As for his retirement, John said he would miss the cut and thrust of court work – for all of those years he was paid to do what he loved. He is looking forward to having time to read the books he enjoys, listen to the music he loves and to walk his dog in the company of his wife.
This lovely tribute to John appeared in the NSW Legal Aid Staff Newsletter