The peak body representing women lawyers in NSW for the advancement of women in the legal profession.

Women Lawyers Association of NSW

15 September 2009

Dear Members & Colleagues

Nominees for 2009 NSW Women Lawyers Achievement Awards.

We are pleased to announce the nominees of this year's NSW Women Lawyers Achievement Awards as noted below. Representatives on the Judging Panel for the Awards from the Attorney General's Department of NSW, the Bar Association of NSW, the Law Society of NSW, the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association and WLANSW having considered a very strong group of nominees, recommended a ‘Highly Commended’ special Judging Panel's Award in addition to the Awards in the 5 standard categories of:

• Woman Lawyer of the Year in Private Practice;
• "In House" Woman Lawyer of the Year;
• Woman Lawyer of the Year in a Community Organisation;
• Woman Lawyer Advocate of the Year;
• "Up & Coming" Woman Lawyer of the Year

The Executive Committee will also be presenting A Life Achievement Award.

Please join us and our distinguished guests on Friday 25 September 2009 at WatersEdge for the Gala Presentation Dinner at which the winners of the Awards will be announced. Tables of 10, with Corporate signage if required, are available at $1550. Registrations will close shortly and seating is limited so please confirm your booking now. Click here for the invitation form.

The Keynote Speaker for the Awards Gala Dinner will be The Honourable Justice Virginia Bell of the High Court of Australia. Her Excellency, Prof. Marie Bashir AC CVO, State Governor of NSW, The Hon Chief Justice Robert French of the High Court of Australia, The Honourable John Hatzistergos, Attorney General of NSW, and our Patron the Honourable Justice Jane Mathews AO of the Supreme Court of NSW, will be among our honoured guests.

The Awards celebrate the success and achievements of women in law, and are supported by the Attorney-General’s Department of NSW, the NSW Bar Association, the Law Society of New South Wales, the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association, and the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency.

We look forward to your support of our biennial Awards and hope that you will be able to join us on this special occasion.

Kind regards,
Mary Snell


And the 2009 Award nominees are …

Woman Lawyer of the Year in Private Practice

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeDianne Banks Dianne Banks, a partner at Gilbert + Tobin, is an individual committed to fighting discrimination, improving fairness in the employment context and enhancing the position of girls and women in society with a particular emphasis on women in the legal profession. At Gilbert + Tobin, Dianne has been a champion for encouraging and developing family- friendly policies and mentoring young lawyers. Recognised as an informal mentor, Dianne has counselled many young female lawyers on the choices facing them at the start of their careers. She has also been an advocate for "practising what she preaches" by implementing flexible working arrangements within her own practice group. As a result, Dianne is a lawyer who closely understands the challenges facing women as they try to establish their careers and balance their family life. Admitted in 1989, Dianne joined Gilbert + Tobin in 1995 and is a partner in the Litigation group and head of the employment team where she provides legal advice on a broad range of employment law and industrial relations issues.

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeKristine Hallam Littlewood Educated at Cessnock High School obtaining a Commonwealth Scholarship and attended University of Newcastle obtaining BA in 1975. She undertook the Barristers Admission Board exams being awarded Law Society prizes of 1st in the State in Succession and joint 1st in Conveyancing and was admitted to the Bar on 13th June, 1980. Practised as a non-practising Barrister in the practice commenced with her husband in 1980 until admitted as a Solicitor in 1984, and has practised as a Solicitor in private practice since. Has been Honorary Solicitor to Country Womens Assn and Historical Society for last 15yrs. Committee member of Little Athletics for 13 years and President 5 years. Is Chairperson of Hunter Valley Grammar School(HVGS) Council (4yrs) been member of that Board for 10 yrs. One of 20 Investors who created HVGS from nothing in 1989 to educating 940 children (Preschool-Yr 12) presently. Kristine is the mother of 4 children; Lisa (BA,LLB,MBA) a solicitor; Erin (BA Psch)to complete law degree at MACQUARIE 2010; Stephanie to complete B Comm at UTS in 2009 and Jonathan completing yr.12. Her interests include tennis, snow skiing, horse riding, reading, overseas travel.

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeKylie Matthews Kylie is a leading property lawyer and has extensive commercial property experience in Australia and the United Kingdom. She joined Herbert Geer as a partner in 2004, the then youngest partner of the firm. Her areas of expertise include property investment and development, public/private partnerships and joint/co-venture related investment vehicles. Kylie also specialises in property management, asset sales and acquisitions, and retail and commercial leasing. She has acted for State Governments, property developers, fund managers, property trusts, financiers and institutional investors. Kylie is on the Board of Advisers for the Property Industry Foundation and is a NSW Trustee for CEDA (Committee for Economic Development in Australia). The Property Industry Foundation was formed in 1996 by leaders of industry to mobilise the industry’s resources to assist charitable organisations providing services to youth at risk. It is on the of the pre-eminent charities within the property and construction industry and raises in the vicinity of $1.5m each year. In addition to Kylie’s contribution at Board level, she is a member of different planning committees as well as a proactive advocate of the Foundation’s Women’s Care Group (a volunteer group that provides hands-on support to disadvantaged and homeless young women).

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeMaureen Peatman Maureen commenced with Hunt & Hunt as a Partner in January 2003. She has been Chairman of Hunt & Hunt for the past 3 years and is the National Practice Group Leader of the Environment and Planning practice group. In 2004 the Law Council of Australia appointed Maureen Chair of its Australian Environment and Planning Law Group. Maureen held that position for 4 years and while she was Chair she instigated the NSW Young Environmental Lawyer of the Year Award. She is also current Vice President, and long standing member of the Environment and Planning Law Association NSW (EPLA). In both the Law Council and EPLA roles Maureen has, and continues to, contribute in an advisory role to government on changes proposed to legislation. During 27 years of practice Maureen has continuously supported and encouraged women in the work place and as Board member of Hunt & Hunt she has championed the role of women in the partnership whenever they are the best person for the role. Under her direction Hunt & Hunt has regularly been named as one of the top 10 firms where women do well. Maureen's children are now grown up, but when they were young she was president of various organisations which assisted working mothers.

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeFiona Shand Fiona Shand has championed female participation in the law and business for over 25 years in her career in Australia, Hong Kong, and Switzerland. Whilst being the first partner to work flexible hours at Sparke Helmore she established its professional indemnity practice (BIS Shrapnel 1995 recognition as overall performance leader) and defended the GIO NED’s in the AMP takeover class action and introduced the flagship mentoring programme. Fiona founded Arnold Bloch Leibler’s Sydney office before opening her own specialist commercial practice in 2006. Fiona, as the first female solicitor in 4 generations of Senior Counsel, encourages female talent through her 75% female briefing record. Fiona drives the issue of increase in effective female representation in business and the law through Australian and international facilitation, publications and presentations including AICD, Women on Boards, Westpac, the Law Society, the College of Law, Legacy, PrimeTime (Singapore) and APIG. Fiona is the NSW President of Women Chiefs of Enterprise and sits on the NSW Government Steering Committee for the Lucy Mentoring programme for female students and graduates in law, commerce, finance, and engineering. Fiona is a single mother of a teenage son.

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeAnny Slater Anny Slater established Slaters Intellectual Property Lawyers in 2001 and in 2008 the practice was named Best Enterprise at the Australian Business Awards. Anny is also MD of entertainment company Moondance Pictures which has a production deal with Sony Pictures International. In 2009, Oscar™ winner Michael Moore asked her to teach at Moore’s newly formed film school, a role she also fulfilled at Yale Uni in 2005. Her collective film work was recently inducted into the Australian National Collection at the Film & Sound Archive in Canberra. Anny is an active mentor in the Law Society’s "shadowing" program for indigenous students, Women in Film & TV’s 2009 mentoring program and also via her monthly probono practice as well as PLT training. In 2009, she was placed on the NSW Government’s honour roll for her outstanding achievements in law, arts and community service. She has degrees in law and science and a Masters degree in arts and lectures to intellectual property Masters students at UTS.


‘In House’ Woman Lawyer of the Year

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeBronwyn Carr Having practiced as inhouse counsel since 2007, Bronwyn Carr is the Lead Lawyer B2B for American Express in Australia and New Zealand, holds a position on the country executive team and acts as company secretary for the American Express Wholesale Currency Services business. After 11 years in private practice as a banking and insolvency lawyer Bronwyn made the transition to the corporate sector seeking a better work/life balance. Bronwyn was the Sponsorship Officer for NSW Women Lawyers from 2006 to 2008 and made submissions on paid parental leave to the Federal House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services. Bronwyn has mentored and supported dozens of female colleagues in their career development over the years and was instrumental in the introduction of a paid maternity leave policy for non-partners at Dibbs Barker Gosling in 2006. Bronwyn holds a Masters of Law degree and is the proud mother of a boy and girl, both under 3.

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineePrue Gilbert Prue Gilbert is the General Counsel for Corporate Express Australia Limited. She began her career as a lawyer with Deacons, is a chartered secretary (ACIS) and is currently undertaking an MBA with AGSM. Prue’s vision and passion for raising the awareness and importance of equality in opportunity has resulted in Board support for the establishment of a Women in Leadership Council to attract, retain and develop women at Corporate Express. Within the legal team, Prue has introduced flexible working arrangements (both part time and working from home) to enable employment of women with family care responsibilities, including the encouragement and support of women returning to legal practice after lengthy periods of time out of the work force.

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeChristine Hanson Christine Hanson is currently acting into the position of the Director of the Legal Services Branch of the Department of Planning. Before starting her employment in the Department, Christine worked for a private firm doing conveyancing and property work. Subsequently, she worked at the Crown Solicitor’s Office for several years. During this time, Christine did a variety of work including property, civil litigation and industrial work. After leaving the Crown Solicitor’s Office, she joined the then Department of Environment and Planning and has continued to work for the Department in its many guises. Christine has, in the last 2 decades, held various positions in the Legal Services Branch including the Manager of the Branch and been the Department’s General Counsel. Christine has developed a deep affection for and extensive knowledge of planning and environmental law in New South Wales.


Woman Lawyer of the Year in a Community Organisation

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeEdwina MacDonald Edwina is the Law Reform Coordinator of Women’s Legal Services Australia and the Law Reform and Policy Solicitor at Women’s Legal Services NSW. She advocates for access to justice and a just legal system for all Australian women, particularly in the areas of family law, domestic and family violence, anti-discrimination laws and human rights. She has recently coordinated Australia’s 2009 NGO Report on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Edwina is also a board member of the Intellectual Disability Rights Service. Prior to her current work, Edwina was the Senior Research Director at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law. She has also worked in various other community organisations, including a women’s legal advocacy organisation in India, and for the Australian Government in legal policy.

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeJoanne Muller After a career in science teaching, Joanne commenced working in the law in 1990, establishing her own practice in 1993. Joanne has been a member of Girl Guides for 43 years, becoming a Queen’s Guide in 1977, and thereafter serving in various capacities including Honorary In-House Legal Adviser, Girl Guides Australia. Five days ago, Joanne was sworn-in as the Deputy State Commissioner, Girl Guides NSW & ACT and is particularly looking forward to this leadership role in 2010 – ‘The Year of the Girl Guide’. The voluntary work Joanne undertakes supports the mission of Girl Guides: To enable girls and young women to grow into confident, self-respecting, responsible community members. Since 1994 Joanne has held many statutory appointments in the health disciplinary area. Currently, she is the Chairperson of six tribunals and Deputy Chairperson of three. In private practice, Joanne has had the privilege of assisting a number of women with special needs. Joanne has just been appointed as an inaugural member of the Physiotherapists Board of Australia and continues as a legal member of the Ethics Committee of the Cancer Council of NSW, as an Honorary Solicitor for the St Vincent De Paul Society and as a ‘Lucy’ Mentor.


Woman Lawyer Advocate of the Year

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeBelinda Baker A desire to serve the public led Belinda to a career as a public sector lawyer. At the Crown Solicitor’s Office Belinda has appeared as an advocate in a range of matters including constitutional matters, commercial litigation, coronial inquests, ICAC inquiries, criminal prosecutions and defences, criminal appeals, Supreme Court administrative law matters and applications for apprehended domestic violence orders. As a Menzies Scholar at Harvard University, Belinda assisted in the conduct of appellate criminal litigation for the Massachusetts Attorney General, including appearing as junior counsel before the United States Federal Court of Appeals and was also a volunteer advocate with the Prisoners Legal Assistance Project. As the research assistant to the Solicitor General and Crown Advocate, she has also appeared as junior counsel in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Court of Criminal Appeal. Belinda is the author of the Halsbury's Laws of Australia entry on "Coroners" (2009) and coauthor of the forthcoming 4th Edition of Waller, Coronial Law and Practice in NSW. Belinda’s passion for advocacy is only exceeded by her devotion to her family: her son Joshua is now 18 months old. Remarkably, Belinda also finds time to mentor and encourage a large number of women students and lawyers.

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeTina Jowett Tina Jowett graduated from the University of New South Wales with a BA(Hons) in history in 1991 and a LLB in 1994. While studying, Tina worked at the Indigenous Law Centre. She was also a member of the NSW Equal Opportunity Tribunal from 1993-2003. Tina was the associate to Justice Jane Mathews during the mediation of the Dunghutti agreement and the Hindmarsh Island Bridge inquiry. In 1996, Tina became a solicitor with the New South Wales Crown Solicitor’s Office which included working on the Yorta Yorta native title case. Tina was called to the Bar in 2003 and was junior counsel for the applicants in the Perth native title claim Bennell v Western Australia (2006) ; and on appeal before the Full Federal Court. She has taught at the Universities of Western Sydney and of Newcastle; as well as at specialised practitioner workshops in native title. For the Bar Association Pro Bono Scheme, Tina has volunteered over 240 hours. Tina has participated in the Women Lawyers mentoring programme for over 10 years as well as the Aurora Project’s student internship scheme. As a mother of three children she also talks to young women about balancing a family and a legal career.


‘Up and Coming’ Woman Lawyer of the Year

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeRuth Chalmers Ruth Chalmers is a criminal defence lawyer at Redfern Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS). Ruth runs the Bidura Children’s Court practice in Glebe, championing the rights of indigenous youth with a focus on rehabilitation and education. She appears daily in the Children’s, Local and District court with an unwavering passion for criminal law. Ruth is an active member of the Young Lawyers Criminal Law Committee having assisted in organising Continuing Legal Education seminars for the benefit of the criminal law industry. She is a mentor in the 2009 Sydney University Law Society Women’s Mentoring Program aimed to foster the career development of female law students and develop a co-operative network to support and encourage women hoping to enter the profession. In addition to this she now runs the ALS mentoring program in the footsteps of the originating founder, Nell Skinner, recently appointed to the Magistracy. She is in a workplace full of strong and inspiring women colleagues and actively provides support and encouragement to surrounding young women lawyers.

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeHeidi Fairhall Heidi Fairhall was admitted in February 2006 and has a particular interest in employment and industrial law. Heidi is part of the Employment team at Blake Dawson, and is currently on secondment as an Industrial Relations Manager with a major airline. Heidi is also an active contributor to pro bono, having completed a six month secondment to the Exodus Foundation in Ashfield and presenting a number of seminars on unfair dismissal to a range of organisations, including North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, Legal Aid and Dubbo regional practitioners. Heidi is also an active member of the NSW Young Lawyers. As Chair of the Employment and Industrial Law Committee since September 2007, Heidi has overseen the Committee's involvement in a range of initiatives, most recently the Committee's participation in proceedings for the making of a federal award for legal services and the hosting of a Charity Trivia Night for the benefit of the Aids Council of NSW.

Woman Lawyer 2009 Award NomineeSara Gul Sara Gul has been practising in NSW since 2005. She is currently employed as a senior solicitor at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions within the Special Crime Section. She regularly conducts fiercely contested hearings throughout NSW, frequently involving the prosecution of police officers, often against senior counsel. She has instructed in various high profile and complex trials ranging from murder matters to complex frauds. In 2006 she was the National Runner up in the Golden Gavel public speaking competition for Young Lawyers, and won the NSW competition that year. in 2008 she attended the International Criminal Law Congress as an ODPP sponsored delegate. She is deeply committed to encouraging and mentoring law students and young practitioners. She coaches and adjudicates Mock Trial teams at university and secondary levels and is formally engaged in mentoring programmes for female law students. Prior to her employment at the ODPP Sara practised at the Sydney Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and as a defence solicitor advocate in Tasmania.


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