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As a career solicitor and barrister, new NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman has a deep understanding of the justice system. Get a glimpse of what is on his agenda for 2017 and why he thinks more lawyers should be politicians.

Mark Speakman admits he doesn’t have much spare time these days. But that’s just how he likes it. The State’s new Attorney-General and former Minister for the Environment, Speakman is a “bigger picture” man – a career lawyer whose days of commercial litigation as a silk have ceded to a desire to “make a difference”.

In the job only a matter of weeks following new State Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s Cabinet reshuffle, Speakman, 57, says the change in portfolio was abrupt and unexpected.

“There have been no major mishaps so far, and I have managed to avoid any serious accidents,” he laughs. “But it’s a very steep learning curve.”

Speakman, though, should feel reasonably at home as the State’s first law officer. With 33 years of legal practice under his belt – as both a solicitor and barrister – there’s a deep understanding of and appreciation for the justice system, and a skill set which he says puts him in good stead to handle a notoriously challenging portfolio.

“The skill of a barrister is not so much to have a specific body of knowledge – although that is important,” he says. “It’s the ability to harness a case, distil the essential facts and act on those essential facts. They are skills I hope I brought to the environment portfolio and now to the role of Attorney-General.”

And those skills will have to be put to good use.

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