Michael Wyles QC has decided to retire as Chairman of Barristers’ Chambers Limited (BCL) with effect from 30 November 2017. Michael was appointed to the Board of the Company in October 2010 and became Chairman in December 2012. He has made an outstanding contribution to BCL and to the Bar generally. The hallmark of Michael’s term as a director, and later as Chairman, has been his complete and tireless dedication to the advancement of the Company, and through it, the maintenance of the open-door to the Victorian Bar; through which all may come irrespective of means or connections. Michael has also dedicated himself to ensuring that BCL continues to improve the physical and IT infrastructure that it provides to the Bar and that BCL meets the diverse needs of barristers in a rapidly changing marketplace and technological environment. The Bar is surely indebted to Michael for his passionate and unerring leadership of BCL.
Michael has led a transformation of BCL during his term as Chairman. Under his leadership BCL has become a significant supplier in the Melbourne CBD office market, with 58,597m2 net lettable area in chambers strategically located in the legal precinct. Under Michael’s leadership, the appetite among some barristers to drift away from BCL chambers has all but disappeared. This turnaround is the result of BCL’s re-invigoration and in particular BCL’s agility and customer focus which has been a priority under Michael’s leadership.
During Michael’s term as Chairman BCL has been particularly active. The Company has consolidated and increased its holding at Aickin Chambers, added Castan Chambers and delivered the major extension to Owen Dixon Chambers West in 2015, ahead of schedule and on budget. However, Michael’s vision for the Company has not been confined to new projects or renovations. He led a significant reform of the governance structure of BCL, which included appointing a number of directors from outside the Bar. This has provided the Company with expertise from the wider commercial community and has enhanced BCL’s reputation in the marketplace.
The core of Michael’s vision for BCL has been that it can, and should, serve the Bar’s interests in a variety of ways in addition to providing Chambers. Michael led BCL’s partnership with the Bar in commissioning the History of the Bar Project. BCL is funding the project which will produce an enduring cultural legacy for the Bar, for which Michael, and the Company, may be justifiably proud. Consistent with BCL’s service to the wider interests of the Bar, in 2016 BCL donated $50,000 to the Bar Foundation. In short, under Michael’s leadership BCL has hastened towards fulfilling its objective of serving the wider interests of the Bar. In February 2018, for the first time ever, BCL will pay a dividend to the Victorian Bar of $550,000. Michael leaves the Company in a financially strong position well positioned to fulfil its mandate of service to individual members of our Bar and to the Bar’s wider collegiate interests.
On behalf of the Board of BCL, and personally, I congratulate Michael for his leadership of BCL and thank him for his indefatigable service to the Company and to the Bar.
Paul Anastassiou QC
Barristers’ Chambers Limited