An article by Sarah Booth appearing in The Herald Sun 9 September, 2021. Pictured above are Lawyers Paul Smallwood, Ruth Parker and Carly Marcs Lloyd with Faruk Orman outside the Supreme Court after he was acquitted. Picture: Alex Coppel. Link to the article.

From gangland lawyers to those taking on powerful institutions and advocating for change, these are Melbourne’s most influential lawyers.

Some of Australia’s biggest names have been seen in Melbourne’s courtrooms, but it’s not always the defendant.

In a high-stakes industry, these are the lawyers who stand out, whether it’s for changing clients’ lives with precedent-setting rulings or changing the industry with ambitious agendas.

From gangland figure go-tos and community advocates to rising stars and industry veterans, here are the figures are making waves on Melbourne’s legal scene.

Ruth Parker

Criminal defence lawyer Ruth Parker says she was “largely unknown” until her 10-year battle to free Faruk Orman made headlines around the world.

It was July 26, 2019, and Orman had just become the first person to have a conviction overturned as a result of the Lawyer X scandal.

The Victorian Court of Appeal threw out his 2009 conviction for the murder of Victor Peirce after hearing his lawyer at the time — Nicola Gobbo — had also been informing on him.

Ms Parker had taken on high-profile cases before, including that of Phillip Bracken, a 45-year-old man who was charged with murder but acquitted at trial under new domestic violence self-defence provisions.

But nothing compared to the media swarm waiting outside the courtroom on that July day, when Orman — after more than a decade of professing his innocence — finally cleared his name.

Ms Parker said the case was important to her because of the person Orman is and “how strange the case against him was”.

“The evidence just did not stack up and every time the defence made any sort of headway, it was almost as if police knew what we were doing, they could circumvent us in advance of us raising any contrary evidence,” she said.

“It seemed to me he was being corralled towards a conviction in circumstances where I genuinely thought he was innocent and still do.

“I had a deep sense that an injustice had occurred.”

Orman was not Ms Parker’s only Lawyer X-related case and she later helped free Zlate Cvetanovski, who had his drug conviction dropped after years in custody.

Ms Parker said working on “a case like Orman and other cases I have done that have changed peoples lives, it gives you a real boost”.

“It makes you keep going in an industry that is hard and recently has been incredibly challenged (with Covid).”