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On the Couch
28 January, 2010  
Mary Macken

Mary Macken, President of the NSW Law Society, linguist, weightlifter and lawyer for Sydney Buses, unburdens herself on Justinian’s couch … Disturbing personal obsessions revealed … French culture racing through her veins … Denial that other Mackens covet high office


imageMary Macken is corporate counsel for the NSW State Transit Authority, otherwise known as Sydney Buses.

She is responsible for the legal affairs associated with the magnificent blue and white machines that roam the streets of the metropolis – and there are about 2,400 of them managed by a staff of 4,400 drivers, ticket punchers and assorted management types.

Mary holds masters degrees in law and French. She also converses in Italian and Japanese, and plans to use those languages more frequently at meetings of the Law Society council.

She also represents Australie on the governing board of the Union Internationale des Avocats, where multilingualism is de rigueur.

One of her missions is to build relationships between French organisations, such as the Ordre des Avocats de Paris and the Law Society in Phillip Street.

Mary Macken has represented Australia in the sport of powerlifting. She has competed at seven world weightlifting championships and is a director of the Australian Weightlifting Federation.

Her husband, Hugh Macken, was president of the Law Society in 2008.

Describe yourself in three words.
Strong, diligent, persevering.

What are you currently reading?
The Gonif by Red Rudensky (out of print) – written by a Leavenworth “graduate” in the thirties.

What’s your favourite film?
The diptych: Jean De Florette and Manon Des Sources.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?
No one person, but rather the Sisters of Mercy who taught me in high school.

What occupation would you like to have, if you weren’t a lawyer?
Language teacher.

What is your favourite piece of music?
Rammsteins Ohne Dich or Johnny Hallyday’s Oh Marie sung live at the Parc Des Princes.

What is your most recognised talent?
French interpreting.

What words or phrases do you overuse?
I don’t have time.”

What is your greatest regret?
Knowing nothing about music.

How do you do it all – wife, mother, lawyer, pet minder and Law Soc President?
Loads and loads of help from fellow mothers. Support from my children and husband.

What is your most pressing and important mission this year as President of the NSW Law Society?
To promote inclusion and diversity.

What is your most disturbing personal obsession?
Keeping my recently acquired shoe cupboard in order AND calculating the weight of many things – foodstuffs, bags, imagepeople, shopping, school bags etc (explained by the fact that my hobby is weightlifting).

What’s your most glamorous feature?
My Latissimus Dorsae.

If you were a foodstuff, what would you be?
Eye fillet steak – efficient and concise.

What human quality do you most distrust?
Lack of empathy.

What would you change about Australia?
I would like our children to intensively learn a second language from preschool onwards.

Whom or what do you consider overrated?
Sports stars behaving badly.

Are there any more Mackens lurking in-line for high office?
These gentle creatures neither lurk nor covet office. They are too impatient to stand in-line. However, segue to my cousin Rachel Grimes, who is president-elect of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia.

What would your epitaph say?
Only kindness matters.

What comes into your mind when you shut your eyes and think of the word “law”?
The Law Society Crest – Omnium Jura Defendimus – we defend the rights of all.