The Laws of Australia, Thomson Reuters’ legal encyclopaedia, is edited by a team of legally-trained editors here in our Pyrmont, Sydney office. Today we talk to Craig Ryan about his legal studies, work background, and experiences working on TLA.
How long have you worked at TLA?
Craig: Almost two years. I started at the end of May 2012.
What was your background before joining the TLA team?
Craig: Pretty diverse in terms of jobs. My most recent long-term role was as an Assessment Officer with the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), I did that for about four and half years.
Are there any differences/similarities between your previous role at ICAC and your role as a TLA editor?
Criag: At ICAC my role was as a first point of contact for people making allegations of corrupt conduct against NSW public officials. I would assess information provided and write reports for the Commission’s senior officers with recommendations as to how ICAC should proceed with the complaints (eg referral for investigation). At TLA I edit Subtitle manuscripts for publication, so the core functions are quite different, but there are similarities in terms of the skills applied, the team interaction, maintaining good stakeholder relationships, working to deadlines, etc.
Are there any skills that are common to both roles?
Craig: In writing assessment reports at ICAC, attention to detail, checking for accuracy, clarifying expression, were all basic editorial skills employed. We apply these same skills as TLA editors.
What was your favourite subject at law school? Why?
Craig: Public International Law. I find that whole area – relations between nation-states, war and peace, etc – intensely interesting and relevant.
What do you enjoy most about working at TLA?
Craig: The people I work with. I feel fortunate to work in a team of very friendly, funny, supportive, and intelligent people – even though as the oldest member I sometimes miss the pop cultural references, though my colleagues very kindly explain these to me!
What interesting facts have you learnt as an editor?
Craig: Lots! In editing 20.8 “Mental Health and the Intellectually Disabled”, I learned a lot about the fundamental change in approach to law and policy-making with regards to people with mental illness or intellectual disabilities, particularly after Australia became a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2008. Subtitle 6.1 “Civil Defamation” was very interesting in its discussion of the implied freedom of political communication cases in the High Court in the 1990s. I was also very interested to learn in 9.3 “Defences and Responsibility” that the defence of superior orders is available in Australian criminal law. I found that a bit disturbing.
What is the most interesting Subtitle you have worked on?
Craig: I hate to choose! I have found many of them interesting, particularly the ones with a social/political dimension; anything that makes you think a bit more broadly about the world. My favourite would have to be 26.3 the “Australian Industrial Relations System”. It’s an area I have always been interested in and it is very topical.
What other interests do you have outside of work?
I have a strong interest in politics, not so much on the day-to-day events but from a philosophical angle. I read quite a bit in this area, and am writing something with an international law theme which I hope to have published one day. This takes up a bit of time. I also watch way too much TV! Walking is a passion of mine. I would run, but I’m not really built for speed.