Queensland Law Society

Council profiles

Queensland Law Society (QLS) is governed by an elected Council of members and provides the Society’s policy directions.

The role of the president is to lead the Council in setting the corporate direction and goals and monitoring the performance of QLS. The president also works closely with the chief executive officer to ensure the effective corporate governance of QLS. Each president is elected for a term of one year, with the deputy president succeeding to the office of president at the beginning of the second term.

Council 2017

Christine Smyth (president)

Christine Smyth is president of the Queensland Law Society, an Accredited Specialist - Succession Law and Partner at Robbins Watson Solicitors, a highly respected Gold Coast law firm where she leads a team of 30+.

With a legal career spanning over 25 years, Christine is a passionate advocate for solicitors (with a focus on their welfare), a long-standing mentor, utiliser of technology and flexible work practices – all while honouring tradition and experience to achieve ethically grounded business viability.

Christine's QLS leadership contributions include:

  • Member of the QLS Executive Committee, Executive Management Committee, Audit and Investment Committee and QLS Council
  • Member of Proctor and Symposium planning committees
  • Inaugural Chair of the Corporate Governance committee
  • Past member of the Succession Law Committee.

Other previous leadership positions include STEP (QLD) committee and General Editor for Lexis Nexis Retirement and Estate Planning Bulletin.

A highly regarded succession law expert, Christine is widely published, having a regular Succession Law column in Proctor, Australian Institute of Taxation Journal and various publications in STEP World Wide Journal. Christine’s expertise is sought after as a presenter for QLS conferences, and other industry bodies.

In 2013, LexisNexis recognised Christine as one of their Top 10 Influential Women. Christine's leadership has resulted in her being nominated for the Queensland Law Society President’s Medal. In 2015 and 2016, Christine was awarded the prestigious Doyle’s Guide of Queensland’s Leading Wills and Estate Litigation Lawyer.

In November 2016, Christine was one of only five people appointed to the Queensland State Government’s Better Regulation Task Force. The Task Force has been established as a sub-committee of the Queensland Small Business Advisory Council (QSBAC) and will continue the work of the former Red Tape Reduction Advisory Council.

Christine believes professionalism hinges on integrity and collegiality. She will build upon the good work and advocacy commenced by Immediate Past President Bill Potts to ensure QLS cements its position as the peak professional body for Queensland solicitors.

View speeches given by QLS president Christine Smyth.

Bill Potts (2017 immediate past president)

Bill Potts is one of Queensland’s most senior criminal defence practitioners and the immediate past president of Queensland Law Society. He is a founding director of Potts Lawyers (formerly Price & Roobottom) Queensland’s largest private criminal law firm, with offices in Brisbane and Southport. He has extensive advocacy experience in all jurisdictions across Queensland and interstate. Since 2012 he has served as a Queensland Law Society Councillor and has sat on the Criminal Law, Executive Management and Practice Management Committees. He founded the Gold Coast’s first community legal centre in 1984, the Australian Defence Lawyers Alliance in 2008 and has been a Senior Counsellor for 21 years. Bill presents at conferences and symposiums and regularly provides commentary to the media on topics of importance to the justice system. He has a firm understanding of the issues that affect our profession, with a particular focus on law reform, practice management and ethics.

View speeches given by QLS immediate past president Bill Potts.

Christopher Coyne (vice president)

Vice President (September 2017 - December 2017)

Christopher Coyne was admitted to practice in 1979. Previously a partner in Clayton Utz and now practices on his own account as Lexon Legal.

As a member of Council his commitment has been to the continued development of the practice of law as a financially viable and sustainable business.

QLS roles include current member of Council (2014 – 2015); of Management (Fidelity Fund); Ethics Committee; LCLE Committee; Director of the Specialist Accreditation Board and Nominee solicitor - members advice on disciplinary matters.

Previously he was Director Lexon Insurance Pte Ltd (2005 – 2015); Director/President Australian Insurance Law Association; President Medico Legal Society.

His community and academic roles include: Director, Incorporated Council of Law Reporting; Chair, Professional Indemnity Committee for LawAsia; Deputy Chair, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute; Director, QPharm Pty Ltd; Sessional Member, QCAT/CCT 2004 – 2011; Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Queensland 1999 – 2006; Graduate Bar Practice Course and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

Kara Cook (vice president)

(January 2016 - August 2017)

Kara has worked in large, small, regional and metropolitan firms. Previously the Principal Solicitor of Women’s Legal Service, a specialist Community Legal Centre in the areas of Family Law and Domestic Violence, Kara has now launched her own firm, COOKLEGAL, which is the first private expert Domestic Violence Law Firm in Australia. Kara is a strong advocate for members’ issues, including law reform. Kara has a special interest in mentoring particularly for early career lawyers and women. She has been a member of the QLS Committee of Management, Family Law, Early Career Lawyers and the Law Council of Australia Young Lawyers Committees. She has also contributed to the QLS Domestic Violence and Law Council of Australia Legal Assistance Funding working groups. Kara is currently a Director of the Queensland Law Foundation and devotes spare time to her daughter, Women Lawyers Association of Queensland and Griffith University Mentoring Programs and fundraising for the Melanoma Institute of Australia. In 2014 Kara was awarded Law Council of Australia, Australian Young Lawyer of the Year.

Michael Brennan

Michael is Managing Principal of Offermans Partners. Admitted in 1999, Michael practiced in commercial law before becoming an insolvency practitioner. In addition to maintaining his Practising Certificate, Michael is a Liquidator and Bankruptcy Trustee.

Michael sits on the QLS Insolvency Committee and the QLD Committee of ARITA. He is Immediate Past President of the TDLA and was a Committee member of the NQLA, having previously held the position of Treasurer of that body, and believes solicitors are ideally placed to capitalise upon the government recognition of the future of Northern Australia and the export of professional services.

Michael strongly advocates the perfect vehicle to take advantage of this is a combination of local knowledge and contacts inherent with regional firms strategically combined with the specialisation found in metropolitan practices. He passionately believes in the potential for regional and metropolitan firms working together to unlock value from the new services frontier.

Jennifer Hetherington

(January 2016 - August 2017)

My experience as a practitioner spans a number of firm types, sizes and location including:

  • Suburban Brisbane general practice
  • Brisbane CBD specialist family law firms
  • Brisbane CBD mid-tier full service firms
  • Gold Coast full service firm
  • Firms with offices in regional and rural Queensland (including work out of those offices)

I believe my experience gives me an understanding of:

  • The challenges of both sole practice and practice within a larger firm
  • The challenges faced by employed solicitors and those of running a practice
  • The differences of life and law across all of Queensland, not just the South East

My particular interests include:

  • The over supply of graduates against available positions
  • The public reputation of the legal profession
  • The attrition rate of women from the profession

Current roles:

  • Chair, Mummy’s Wish Inc.
  • Committee Member, Queensland Collaborative Law
  • Volunteer Solicitor, Women’s Legal Service.

Chloe Kopilovic

Chloe is a lawyer practising in wills and estates at Ferguson Cannon Lawyers, on the Sunshine Coast. Chloe was admitted in 2013. Bringing a young perspective, Chloe is a keen participator in her local community, having been involved in a number of local and community fundraisers and campaigns. Chloe is actively involved in Sunshine Coast events and is also a Management Committee Member and Secretary for Safe Streets Association Inc, a Queensland based charity focusing on providing a safe environment for the community. Chloe is also a director of Spark Bureau Ltd, Sunshine Coast’s newest start up accelerator aimed at harnessing young local entrepreneurs.

Elizabeth Shearer

Elizabeth’s aim is to ensure QLS delivers tangible benefits to help practitioners in the profession and business of law. Her focus is support for small practices to respond to changing environments.

Elizabeth understands the community needs small general practices. With her firm, Affording Justice, she aims to help people navigate the legal problems of everyday life using a new practice model; harness technology to enhance, rather than disrupt, the trusted adviser role; and helps to fill the access to justice gap for individuals and small businesses.

The attrition rate in the profession concerns Elizabeth. She believes new models of practice provide opportunity across all stages of professional life and aims to better promote these.

In addition to being a Councillor, she is a strong contributor to QLS as a Senior Counsellor, a committee Chair (Practice Management Course), and a member of the Audit and Investment Committee, the Committee of Management, and the Access to Justice Pro Bono Committee.

Karen Simpson (Attorney-General’s Nominee)

Karen has extensive experience practicing as a solicitor in Queensland, working exclusively in the area of personal injury applying State Legislation and Common Law.

Her experience managing the Queensland personal injury business for a listed company and international law firm has provided her with extensive business management experience. Karen directly managed the consolidation of the Slater and Gordon businesses in Queensland requiring the implementation of a highly structured changed management program. She is a member of the Slater and Gordon Australian Executive allowing her to actively participate in the strategic planning and operational decision making to be delivered to Board for approval.

Karen is a director of the Schultz Toomey O'Brien business and has gained valuable experience dealing with a number of acquisitions and mergers in Queensland. As General Manager she has overseen the firm's growth from three offices to 18 offices across the state.

Having previously gained valuable experience working in rural Queensland locations. Practicing law in regional Queensland has provided her with a deeper understanding of the needs of regional communities.

Karen is a strong advocate for equal opportunity employment and providing career pathways to develop and empower young people within the community.

Ken Taylor

Ken Taylor is a Director of Purcell Taylor Lawyers in Townsville, having been admitted to practice in 1989.

Ken is a current serving Councillor on the QLS with additional appointments to the Council Executive and the Professional Conduct Committee. Ken is also a current member of the TDLA and the ALA.

He was awarded life membership of the Townsville Community Legal Service for provision of voluntary legal services in 2007. Ken is also on the various sub-committees of the Townsville Mater Hospital and is active in local sporting and school associations including as a Director of the Northern Fury.

Ken supports the maintenance of high professional standards, access to justice for individuals and the maintenance and expansion of areas of practice available to lawyers.

He is looking to promote policies that are of benefit to al practitioners across Queensland, including to continue to expand and grow QLS member services.

Kara Thomson

Kara specialises in personal injuries law, and is passionate about supporting the ongoing development of legal professionals. She has worked both defendant and plaintiff sides, with opportunities to advocate for clients through mediums such as local newspapers, news programs and national platforms.

Kara has also worked as a regional practitioner in Townsville, allowing her to further understand the needs and concerns relating to those in regional areas. Kara has been a member of numerous committees and associations, including the Townsville District Law Association, which allowed her to promote and advocate on behalf of regional practitioners.

In 2014 she was a member of QPILCH in Townsville, assisting with the Women’s Centre; providing legal services and advice for women in crisis. Kara’s special interests include quality time at home with her family, as well as reading and learning about developments in the injury law space.

Paul Tully

Paul is practice chair and principal at McInnes Wilson Lawyers Pty Ltd. He is a member of the Audit and Investment Committee and is the Queensland Law Society nominee director to Lexon Insurance Pte.

Paul is keen to promote the use of technology for member services, particularly through webinars and other online products and quality training for graduates, and supports Queensland Law Society's role working with government to create good legislation.

Paul is chair of the Queensland Rugby Union Judicial Committee, a Judicial Officer to SANZAR, member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a former Board Member of the Brain Injury Foundation.