Kristen Walker
Friday, March 30, 2012
Justinian in Finkelstein inquiry, On the Couch

Constitutional, gender studies and human rights lawyer ... Refugee advocate ... Former associate to Mason CJ ... Finkelstein inquiry legal adviser ... Pancake eater ... Truly, Madly Deeply fan ... Kristen Walker is on Justinian's couch 

Kristen Walker: with inspirationKristen Walker is a Melbourne barrister and until last year an associate professor of law at the University of Melbourne.

She taught gender, sexuality and international human rights law at Columbia University law school and the University of Arizona. 

After a stint as a commercial litigator at Arthur Robs she was an associate to High Court chief justice Sir Anthony Mason. 

However, Kristen shot to fame as legal adviser to the Finkelstein inquiry into the media.

The inquiry reported last month, recommending the creation of a government funded, independent media regulator - the News Media Council. 

Krister Walker now finds herself on Justinian's couch, batting away our questions. 

Describe yourself in three words.

Smart, difficult, funny.

What are you currently reading?

"Convicting the Innocent" by Brandon Garrett - a terrible indictment of the US criminal justice system.

"Permutation City" by Greg Egan - a novel about artificial intelligence.

What's your favourite film?

"Truly, Madly, Deeply."

"The Alien" series.

Who have been the most influential people in your life?

My parents, my partner Miranda, my son Alfie and Sir Anthony Mason.

What is your favourite piece of music?

Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", sung by kd lang.

What is in your refrigerator?

In the freezer I have homemade sheep's milk yoghurt icecream; in the fridge, baba ganoush from the Green Grocer in North Fitzroy.

What is your favourite website?

Slate.com and YouTube videos with laughing babies or funny cats.

What do you recommend as a hangover cure?

Pancakes.

What words or phrases do you overuse?

Certain words not fit to print.

What is your greatest weakness?

I don't suffer fools gladly ... plus, I'm not very good at answering questions that require me to choose one thing with one thing only ... and Facebook.

What career would you have liked to pursue if you hadn't become a lawyer?

In grade 2, I wanted to be an architect. At the end of high school I started engineering, intending to be an aeronautical engineer.

What is your proudest achievement?

Since you are in effect inviting me to brag, my first case as a barrister, Ruhani v Director of Police, where I spoke in the High Court five days after signing the bar roll.

Participating in the Malaysian solution case in the High Court - Plaintiff M70 v Commonwealth and in the right to vote case, Rowe v Electoral Commissioner

What is your greatest regret?

Not being fluent in multiple languages.

What did you learn about the media as a result of working on the Finkelstein inquiry?

No comment.

Tell us what it was like working on the Finkelstein inquiry? 

A lot of fun. The Fink was great to work with and the combination of academic and practical work suited me well. 

What do you never leave home without?

My iPhone.

What is your luckiest item of apparel?

The socks of justice - socks with small scales on them, purchased as a gift from the US Supreme Court shop. 

If you were a foodstuff, what would you be?

Salmon sashimi.

What human qualities do you most distrust?

Charm.

What qualities do you look for in a pet?

Intelligence and a non-shedding coat - both of which are present in the family poodle, Percy.

What would you change about Australia?

Our refugee policy.

How would you like to die?

In my sleep.

What would your epitaph say? 

I hope it will be appropriate for it to say, "She made a difference".

What comes into your mind when you shut your eyes and think of the word "law"? 

A statue of Lady Justice, with her blindfold slightly askew and the scales slightly out of balance.

Article originally appeared on Justinian: Australian legal magazine. News on lawyers and the law (http://justinian.com.au/).
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