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Author: Terry Purcell
Publisher: Connor Court Publishing

The extended title of Reform is ‘The Memoir of a Participant’ – a humble title for its author, Terry Purcell, who leads the reader through three decades spent working extensively at the heart of social and legal reform in NSW.

In an expansive, polished and well-written memoir, Purcell tells of his experience across the profession, which began in the early 1960s. The book primarily covers his time as the Director of the Law Foundation of NSW from 1973 to 1995, and the sweeping changes of the state and the country running alongside that role.

As the recipient of a Churchill Fellowship, the young solicitor Purcell was able to travel extensively throughout North America; visiting a legal aid program on the Navajo reservation and witnessing the unique social and criminal challenges of Chicago’s Southside. His visit played out against the backdrop of Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, a time which marked a shift in the public perception of, and trust in, elected officials.

Returning to Australia as the Director of the Law Foundation of NSW from 1973 to 1995, Purcell was at the fore of numerous social and legal reform initiatives. Spanning more than two decades, the Law Foundation supported the digitisation of legal data, social science research on the legal profession, and improved community access to legal information. Reform also recounts the role of the Law Foundation in establishing organisations, including the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Community Justice Centres.

Purcell’s memoir unfolds during a time of great legal, economic, and social reform across both state and federal governments, including the prime ministerships of Robert Menzies and Gough Whitlam, the Hawke-Keating era, and the longevity of Premiers Robert Askin and Neville Wran.