Joshua William Taaffe

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7 July 1979 – 27 November 2023
Director, Trial Counsel, Accredited Criminal Law Specialist

It is with immense sadness that we say goodbye to our long-time Director and colleague, Josh Taaffe.

There are presences that loom large in one’s life, like the moon, that are all at once brilliant, steadfast, and hold a quiet force. Josh was this; equal parts quiet and strong, exceptional and relatable, indomitable and considerate.

Josh was a highly esteemed colleague and treasured friend to many at Doogue + George Defence Lawyers. He joined the firm in 2007 to act on behalf of a client in the first Commonwealth prosecution of terrorism offences, instructing Queens Counsel in one of the longest and most complex trials to come before the Courts. His busy practice evolved over time; he represented clients and instructed counsel in complex state and Commonwealth offences at every level and appeared as counsel in jury trials in the County Court from 2009. Josh worked tirelessly for his clients and was valued by them for his professionalism and diligence. Josh had a passion for advocacy. In his role as trial counsel Josh was highly respected, repeatedly recognised as a preeminent lawyer in his field. He was nominated as one of two finalists for in-house counsel of the year award in the 15th Victorian Legal Awards. In 2015, he completed specialised jury advocacy training with the National Criminal Defence College in the USA.

An outstanding lawyer and talented advocate, Josh was valued for his forensic judgement and considered advice. His skill, experience and guidance were of great benefit to colleagues and clients alike. He contributed to the profession on a number of committees, including serving as Deputy Chair of the Criminal Law Section and as a member of the Specialisation Committee with the Law Institute of Victoria. Josh was admired among the profession more broadly by fellow solicitors, barristers, and the judiciary.

Josh was a leader in the firm. Josh’s sound and strategic advice assisted in confidently steering the firm over a period of more than 17 years. He was dedicated to developing an innovative and sustainable law practice, developing systems and materials that will serve the firm well into the future. Josh was always looking forward, motivated by a desire for our firm to continuously improve, “onwards and upwards”, he would say. He introduced and supervised lawyer training for many years, with lawyers of all levels benefiting from his insights, expertise, and advocacy experience. Josh was an inspiring and exacting mentor, generous with his time and interested in helping others succeed. He took particular pride in the development of many current and former Doogue + George solicitor advocates.

Committed to justice, Josh was a principled lawyer who incisively represented the interests of his clients with great care and empathy.

In his own words, “to be a trial lawyer is to wage war within the system of justice. To appear on behalf of another human being and present their case, to defend them in the most serious of circumstances is an incredible privilege. Very often it can also be a heavy burden. So much is at stake – someone’s liberty is in your hands.”

Born and raised near Perth in Western Australia, Josh was the second child of his parents Bill and Trish, joining his older sister Lisa and soon followed by younger brothers, Ben and Sean. He completed a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Western Australia. It was his experience as an activist in the Middle East and then in Australia in relation to refugee rights where his commitment to criminal defence work was formed and informed his ongoing tenacity to fight for the rights of his fellow human beings. Soon after he moved to Melbourne he began work at Fitzroy Legal Service. His work there focused on legal policy and law reform in the areas of Police Accountability and Spent Convictions.

Beyond the law, Josh had rich and varied interests. With a sophisticated appetite for literature, books were his gift of choice, each a thoughtfully and carefully selected tome. Josh also loved to cook, often sharing exciting descriptions of newly discovered ingredients, dishes and recipes. His love of music found its way into the office too, earphones in place on the way in and out of the office, and occasionally at his desk late on a Friday afternoon. The joy and delight inspired by his children was apparent to all. Amongst colleagues, his focused and unflappable approach to court battles was always attributed to his longstanding involvement with the Aikido community.

We are bereft at the loss of our dear friend who enriched our lives with his fervour, intelligence, wit, integrity, and a dash of roguish fun. To those who had the privilege of working with him, his presence and contribution will never be forgotten and will continue to inspire.

Our thoughts are with his much-loved partner Britt and their adored children, Hadley and Micah, family, and friends.

As with the moon, we left here on Earth are simply grateful for the privilege to have been in his orbit, however fleetingly.

Josh Taaffe, it was an honour to know you.
Date Published: 30 November 2023

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