Queensland Law Society

2012 Woman Lawyer of the Year Awards

The Women Lawyers Association of Queensland (WLAQ) in conjunction with the Queensland Law Society recently presented the 2012 Woman Lawyer of the Year Awards and the prestigious Agnes McWhinney Award at their annual Awards Dinner. Held on Friday, 9 November 2012, this event was arguably the biggest night of the year for Queensland’s female lawyers.

WLAQ promotes the interests and advancement of Queensland's female legal practitioners by enhancing awareness of the valuable contributions that women make to the practice and development of the law.

The various awards presented celebrate and honour pre-eminent female lawyers who excel in the law and have made significant contributions to Queensland's legal profession.

This year WLAQ received the greatest number of nominations overall since the Awards' inception. More than half of Queensland law graduates and almost half of QLS members are women, indicating that nominations will continue to grow in future years.

The following awards were presented to recognise the achievements of extraordinary female lawyers:

Queensland Woman Lawyer of the Year Award

Gillian Brown and Rosalind Williams tied for first place to win this prestigious award.

Gillian Brown is a senior partner at Minter Ellison Lawyers, head of the firm's Queensland Finance Division and Immediate Past Chair of Minter Ellison. Nominated by clients, she has been consistently named one of Australia's best lawyers both internationally, in Australia and Queensland. Gillian was a key driver of Minter Ellison's decision to adopt a Diversity Policy. She has been an extraordinary role model and mentor.

Rosalind Williams has spent more than 20 years at the Caxton Community Legal Service, an independent, non-profit community organisation providing free legal advice for the disadvantaged. Over her time at Caxton she has mentored hundreds of law students. Rosalind has contributed to publications including the Queensland Law Handbook and the Lawyers Practice Manual. She often runs workshops for unemployed women and newly arrived migrants.

QLS Agnes McWhinney Award

Ross Landsberg (former Managing Partner of Minter Ellison Lawyers) judged and presented the Queensland Law Society's coveted Agnes McWhinney Award, named after his grandmother, the first female lawyer in Queensland and possibly the second woman to practise law in Australia.

The winner of this award was Kelly Roggenkamp, solicitor at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service.

Emergent Woman Lawyer of the Year Award

This award is for practitioners admitted for less then 5 years. The 2012 winner was Kara Cook. Kara's extensive volunteer work inculdes the Gold Coast Domestic Violence Prevention Centre, MacLeod Women's Refuge Managent Commitee, Caxton Legal Centre and the Womens Legal Service. A former District Court associate, Kara has also been involved in various QLS Commitees.

Regional Woman Lawyer of the Year Award

The winner of this award was Melissa Sinopoli. She has been rapidly promoted to Associate at MacDonnells Law where she is the second youngest Associate of the firm ever and  the youngest female Associate ever promoted in the 128 year history of the firm.

Judging Panel

The awards panel judges included Judge Richards, Judge Bradley, Liz Wilson SC and Ross Landsberg. We thank our panel judges for their time in judging the extraordinary nominations.

Finalists included:

Queensland Woman Lawyer of the Year 2012

  1. Annette Bradfield, Partner, Fox Bradfield Lawyers
  2. Lisa O’Neill, Special Counsel, Murdochs
  3. Jeneve Frizzo, Associate, Farrelly’s Lawyers
  4. Tracy-Lynne Geysen, Partner, Couper Geysen
  5. Amanda Bull, Special Counsel, Dibbs Barker Lawyers

Emergent Woman Lawyer of the Year 2012

  1. Sarah Roach, Solicitor, Holding Redlich
  2. Melissa Sinopoli, Associate, MacDonnells Law
  3. Wendy Mulcahy, Principal, Mulcahy Ryan Lawyers

Regional Woman Lawyer of the Year 2012

  1. Lisa O’Neill, Special Counsel, Murdochs
  2. Jeneve Frizzo, Associate, Farrelly’s Lawyers

Distinguished guests

The Honorable Justice White, who retires next year from the Queensland Court of Appeal, provided the key note address at the Awards Dinner. Attendees included members of the judiciary, major law firms, barristers and other esteemed members of Queensland's legal profession.

Other notable guests included:

  • Supreme Court Justices Jackson, Lyons and Mullins
  • District Court Judges Bradley, Richards and Kingham
  • CEO of QLS, Noela L’Estrange
  • QLS Deputy President, Annette Bradfield

View event photos on the QLS Facebook page