Book Release: Public Sentinels (Ashgate Publishing, 2014)

In February 2014 Public Sentinels: A Comparative Study of Australian Solicitors-General was published by Ashgate Publishing. Public Sentinels is a collection of essays compiled and edited by Dr Gabrielle Appleby and Professor John Williams of the University of Adelaide Law School and Professor Patrick Keyzer of Bond University.

Public Sentinels brings together scholarship about top level government legal advisers from across the world, with a focus on the Australian Solicitor-General. Solicitors-General in Australia are the highest level legal adviser and advocate for the government. The collection provides an important insight into government lawyers at a time when their importance has been highlighted by the American ‘Torture Memos’ scandal involving lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel and the English scandal revealing pressure placed on the Attorney-General to provide favourable advice on the legality of the Iraq War.

The collection has received glowing endorsements from leading constitutional scholars and practitioners in Australia and internationally:

‘This timely collection by a star-studded cast of scholars and jurists draws attention to the importance of the role of Solicitor-General in Australia and elsewhere in maintaining the rule of law, in the face of the strains to which it presently is subject. The book should be welcomed by all government lawyers as an explanation and celebration of the difficult path they often tread.’
Cheryl Saunders, University of Melbourne, Australia

‘The role of solicitors-general is pivotal to the administration of modern government in modern democracies. Uniquely situated on the shifting boundary between law and party politics, the performance and approaches of these officers offer a glimpse into the workings of both worlds. However, there is little sustained or critical study on the nature and challenges of the role. Fortunately, this book does a wonderful job at plugging that gap. Although focused primarily on the Australian situation, it nevertheless provides important insights into both the general role of such government officials and the rule of law generally.’
Allan C. Hutchinson, York University, Canada

‘Public Sentinels is an important book for anyone interested in the rule of law and the control of the exercise of public power. It will be of interest not only to Australians but to all those around the world who are concerned with issues of transparency and accountability for the exercise of public power.’
Adam Dodek, University of Ottawa, Canada

‘Government lawyers are not simply providers of legal services. They are custodians of the rule of law: responsible for the legality of legislative and executive action and contributing to its integrity and consistency. This collection of essays, focussed on the position of Australian Solicitors-General, highlights the resultant public benefits and inherent professional challenges.’
Hon Justice Stephen Gageler, High Court of Australia

For further information about Public Sentinels and to purchase a copy, visit


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