Queensland Law Society

CQLA & QLS Conference presenters


The CQLA & QLS Conference is designed to engage QLS members in their locality as we bring professional development and practice support to you. Each session contains highly relevant content presented by leading subject matter experts. Get to know the presenters by reading their profiles below.

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Magistrate Beckinsale

Magistrates Court of Queensland

Magistrate Philippa Beckinsale was admitted to practice as a solicitor in 1991. She obtained accreditation as a mediator and subsequently as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. Magistrate Beckinsale was appointed as a sessional member of the Guardianship and Administration Tribunal in 2005 and then of the Queensland and Civil Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) until her appointment as a magistrate in June 2018.

Panellist: Regional roundtable: Local matters discussed

David Bowles

David Bowles

Ethics Solicitor, QLS Ethics and Practice Centre, Queensland Law Society

David was admitted as a solicitor in 1996 and was in private practice from that time until joining Queensland Law Society’s QLS Ethics and Practice Centre in November 2012.

David’s experience, initially as an employee and then as a sole practitioner includes crime, property, litigation and estate planning. As an Ethics Solicitor he is responsible for providing ethical guidance to members, and continuing legal education.

He holds postgraduate certificates in Cybersecurity from Harvard University Extension School and in Project Management from the University of Adelaide EdX program.

Presenting: Cybersecurity: Beyond the basics

Anna Burnett

Senior Expertise Lawyer, Ashurst

Anna is an expertise lawyer at Ashurst in the real estate team. She works on particular projects – for instance, their PEXA and VOI policies and procedure – and provides training nationally on contract drafting, plain language, PEXA and VOI and other topical issues for the real estate lawyers and their clients. Anna graduated from the University of Queensland with B.Econ LLB (Hons) in 1984 and was admitted as a solicitor in 1985. She has more than 30 years’ experience as a real estate lawyer and has been employed at Ashurst for the past 25 years.

Presenting: It's all in the drafting – a look at some recent cases

His Honour Judge Michael Burnett AM

District Court of Queensland

Judge Burnett matriculated from Nudgee College, Brisbane in1974. He graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Economics degree in 1978 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1981. He subsequently was awarded a Master of Laws from Bond University in 1991 and a Master of Business Administration from the Queensland University of Technology in 1994. He holds a Certificate in Professional Arbitration awarded by the University of Adelaide and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He was appointed Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 2009.

In 1980 he commenced articles of clerkship and was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1982. In 1984 he was called to the Queensland Bar and commenced practice that year. He was subsequently admitted to practice in NSW and PNG. He practised from Brisbane until appointed a Judge of the Federal Circuit Court in 2006 where he presided in the areas of industrial, bankruptcy, administrative law and other areas of general federal law. In October 2014 he was appointed to the District Court of Queensland and assigned to the Rockhampton registry. His practice at the bar was principally in the areas of commercial and building and construction law. During his time in practice he also held appointments as a Member of the Queensland Building Tribunal, graded arbitrator with the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia, registered adjudicator pursuant to the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act and as a mediator.

He was first commissioned into the ADF as a legal officer in 1985. In that role he has had extensive experience in the conduct of military disciplinary proceedings, defence administrator inquiries, investigations and boards of inquiry. He was appointed a judge advocate and Defence Force Magistrate in 1997 and held the office of Deputy Judge Advocate General ADF 2017-2017. Since 2017 he has held the office of Assistant IGADF. He holds the rank of Air Commodore. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the military division in the Queen’s birthday honours list 2017.

His extra curricular interests include aviation (private pilot), rugby football, snow skiing, cycling and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) of which he is a director.

Panellist: Regional roundtable: Local matters discussed
Presenter: Views from the bench

Tracy Skellern

Amy Cocks

Solicitor, Rees R & Sydney Jones

Amy is a solicitor in the energy, environment and agribusiness team. She advises landholder clients on a variety of legal matters including rural conveyances, freehold/leasehold issues, mining & gas compensation and access agreements, agistment & livestock matters, and water allocations.

Presenting: Rural property law update

Anne Demack

Her Honour Judge Anne Demack

Federal Circuit of Australia

Judge Demack was appointed as a Federal Magistrate in 2008. The Court became the Federal Circuit Court in 2013. Judge Demack was formerly a barrister in private practice in Rockhampton. She holds degrees in law and in social work and had earlier worked as a social worker. At the time of her appointment she was a member of the Children Services Tribunal, which was then the Queensland Tribunal with responsibility for reviewing decisions made by the statutory child protection department, and had been a member of the central Queensland parole board.

Judge Demack has a particular interest in parenting matters, child protection issues and parents being assisted with the resolution of their disputes.

Chairing: Reality testing clients in family law matters


Michael Drinkall

Team Leader, Trust Account Investigations, Queensland Law Society

Michael is highly experienced in conducting examinations of solicitors’ trust accounts and is recognised as a market leader in providing advice on trust accounting.

Before joining QLS, Michael was a manager at a private accounting firm in the business services and audit sector. Michael has a business degree and is a member of CPA Australia. He regularly lectures at Bond University and QUT on trust accounting.

Presenting: Trust accounting refresher

Matthew Dunlop

Matthew Dunlop

Solicitor, Maurice Blackburn

Matthew has more than seven years’ of experience in personal injury litigation. In that time, he has acted for both defendants and plaintiffs; most recently relocating to Rockhampton with his family for a position with Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

Chairing: If only I'd checked, Trust accounting refresher, and What's new in succession law: Cast law and legislation update

Midja Fisher

Midja Fisher

Leadership Expert, Corporate Facilitator; Member, QLS Practice Management Course Committee

LLB(Hons.) B Info Tech

Midja is a leadership expert, corporate facilitator, mentor and keynote speaker. She is a lawyer and former partner of Shine Lawyers, an ASX listed company and one of Australia’s largest compensation law firms. Midja began her career as an IT consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers, before practising law and then finding her passion in the field of learning and development.

During her career she has mentored leaders and facilitated hundreds of corporate workshops, from webinar series and induction programs to 6-day residential leadership programs.

Midja understands the challenges clients face in building leadership capability within their organisations. She works with their leaders to leverage their strengths to gain the skills and self-belief they need to inspire top performance.

Midja specialises in the areas of authentic leadership, building career confidence and women’s mentoring programs. Her clients include the Toyota North Queensland Cowboys, SAP, James Conomos Lawyers, Gouldson Legal, Sentinel Property Group, Queensland Law Society, WSP, Merthyr Law, Australian Trade College, QLD RSL and Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA).

Midja is the author of two books ‘Confidence – How to be your most Authentic, Courageous and Unshakeable Self’ and ‘Great Lawyer to Great Leader’.

Midja lives on the Gold Coast with her three children. Find out more about Midja and her practice at www.midja.com.au

Presenting: From lawyer to leader: Adapting to changes in the legal profession

Chief Justice

The Honourable C E Holmes

Chief Justice of Queensland

The Honourable Catherine Holmes was sworn in as Chief Justice of Queensland on 11 September 2015, having previously been a Justice of Appeal. Her Honour holds the degrees of B.Econ (ANU), B.A. (Hons), LLB, LLM (Advanced) (UQ). She was admitted as a solicitor in 1982 and as a barrister in 1984, taking silk in 1999. While in practice, Justice Holmes was at various times a part time member of the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal, Deputy President of the Queensland Community Corrections Board and, during 1998 and 1999, Counsel assisting the Forde Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse. Her Honour was appointed to the Supreme Court of Queensland in March 2000. She was the judge overseeing the Court’s criminal list for some years, and was the judge constituting the Mental Health Court from February 2005 until May 2006, when she was appointed to the Court of Appeal. From 16 January 2011 until 16 March 2012, Justice Holmes was the Commissioner of the Commission of Inquiry into the Queensland Floods 2010-2011.

Presenting: Chief Justice's address

Samantha Legrady

Samantha Legrady

Solicitor, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS) and President, Central Queensland Law Association

Samantha Legrady considers herself a local as she moved to Rockhampton with her family when she was 12, where she was educated, raised her family and has worked in the local Legal Community. She is the President of the Central Queensland Law Association, member of Queensland Law Society and a member of the Women Lawyers Association of Queensland Inc. Samantha is also a member on the Central Queensland University Law Advisory Board.

Samantha has practised in the Rockhampton region in civil, commercial, family and criminal law. She is currently employed at ATSILS in Rockhampton as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. Samantha works in criminal matters, Children’s Court and is currently on the Mental Health Review Tribunal Panel.

She volunteers assisting local schools with their debating and mooting competitions and regularly participates in fundraising for great causes such as Steptember (raising funds for Cerebral Palsy), Mental Health, Cancer Council and Domestic Violence.

From lawyer to leader: Adapting to changes in the legal profession,
Cybersecurity: Beyond the basics
Rural property law update
Communicating with a diverse client base
Clean hands, dirty money: A solicitor’s guide to accepting funds from clients
Closing Remarks
Views from the Bench
Developments in Drafting Practice
Wellness in the Law: Creating and sustaining health within the legal profession
Regional roundtable: Local matters discussed


Jennifer McArdle

Barrister, Queensland Bar

Jenn studied law at the Queensland Institute of Technology and commenced articles in Brisbane in 1987. She was admitted as a solicitor in the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1989 and to the High Court of Australia in 1990. Jenn has worked in private practice and at Legal Aid Queensland. Her background has included work in wills and estates, commercial property and personal injuries matters as well as extensive work in family law. In the latter years of her employment at Legal Aid Queensland Jenn exclusively undertook complex casework as an Independent Children’s Lawyer and continues to represent ICLs as Counsel.

Since 1995 she has worked almost exclusively in all aspects of family law and child protection matters and appears frequently in the Federal Family Law and State Courts, especially enjoying her ventures into regional areas. Jenn undertakes advocacy at first instance (interim and final hearings) and appellate cases.

Called to the Bar in 2010, she also changed her registration accordingly with the High Court of Australia. Jenn has additional qualifications as a Mediator and Arbitrator and more recently completed training in Collaborative Law.

Since 2007 she has been a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. Jenn has been a committed member of the Queensland family law community with long standing membership of the Family Law Practitioners Association of Queensland and the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia. She is currently a member of the Family Law Committee of the Bar Association of Queensland.

Panellist: Reality testing in family law matters


Brian McGowran

Principal Solicitor, McGowran Cagney Lawyers

Brian has been a practicing solicitor for over 23 years. He predominantly practices in criminal and family law matters.

Brian has been employed by two Aboriginal Legal Aid offices, Legal Aid Queensland (where he was recruited to be the Brisbane Court Duty lawyer) and several boutique firms before opening his own private practice which has been running for over 13 years.

Brian has appeared in the Magistrate, District and Supreme Courts, as well as the Federal Circuit Court, and before the full bench of the Federal Court of Appeal.

Panellist: Regional roundtable: Local matters discussed

Rolf Moses

Rolf Moses

Chief Executive Officer, Queensland law Society

Rolf is the Chief Executive Officer of Queensland Law Society. He has over 20 years’ human resources and leadership experience working in large international legal firms throughout Australia and Asia. He has expertise in organisational strategy, creating sustainable, high performing organisational cultures, performance coaching and leadership. Rolf is the former chair and a current member of the Queensland Law Society Wellbeing Working Group and is a faculty member of the QLS Practice Management Course.

Presenting: Wellness in the Law: Creating and sustaining health within the legal profession

Bill Potts

Bill Potts

President, Queensland Law Society; Director, Potts Lawyers; Member, Queensland Law Society Criminal Law Committee and Queensland Law Society Senior Counsellor

Bill is the President of Queensland Law Society and a criminal law Director of Potts Lawyers.

Bill is a Queensland Law Society Senior Counsellor who provides confidential guidance on professional and ethical problems. He previously served as president of the Society in 2016 and is currently a Director of the Law Council of Australia. Through these roles, as a leader of the profession, he has worked to support the rule of law in a time of significant change and has advocated for better resourcing of the courts to improve efficiencies in the management of matters.

Bill is passionate about promoting Queensland Law Society as a dynamic and respected membership organisation. As a member and leader of Council, he has achieved successes in advocacy, reductions in insurance premiums and invigorated our engagement with government.

Presenting: Welcome and Closing remarks

Stafford Shepherd

Stafford Shepherd

Director, QLS Ethics and Practice Centre, Queensland Law Society

Stafford was admitted as a solicitor in 1987. After admission he practised for a number of years in partnership and subsequently as a sole practitioner. Stafford sold his practice in 2004. Between 2004 and 2008 he worked as a consultant to a number of law practices. In 2008 he joined the Queensland Law Society as an Ethics Guidance Officer. In 2015 Stafford was appointed as Director, QLS Ethics Centre (‘the Centre’), and further he serves as secretary to the Society’s Ethics Committee. He is also the Society’s representative on the Professional Ethics Committee of the Law Council of Australia.

The Centre provides ethical guidance and practice support services. In addition, the Centre delivers practical legal ethics and practice support sessions to members, the profession and students (whether at university or practical legal training).

Stafford is the executive editor of the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2012 in Practice: A Commentary for Australian Legal Practitioners. He has written extensively on legal ethics. Stafford is a sessional member at the Queensland University of Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Laws and Master of Laws (Commercial and Corporate) from the University of Queensland, a postgraduate certificate in arbitration and mediation from the University of Adelaide. Stafford is also a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). Stafford’s areas of interest are land transactions, trust, succession law and the equitable doctrine underpinning legal ethics.

Presenting: Clean hands, dirty money: A solicitor’s guide to accepting funds from clients
Panellist: Regional roundtable: Local matters discussed

Tracy Skellern

Tracy Skellern

Deputy Risk Counsel, Lexon Insurance Pte Ltd

Since admission, Tracy has worked in various positions in the legal industry including in private practice, as a consultant in a legal practice management software company, as a precedent lawyer, and as general manager of a specialist law practice.

For the past decade, Tracy has conducted risk management workshops with law practices all over Queensland and been extensively involved in the creation and updating of many of the legal risk tools provided by Lexon. Tracy has also presented at a range of continuing professional development events regarding Lexon’s claim experience, neuroscience research and risk management strategies.

Presenting: If only I'd checked

Christine Smyth

Christine Smyth

Consultant, Robbins Watson Solicitors; Former President, Queensland Law Society; Member, Queensland Law Society Succession Law Committee; Member, Queensland Law Society Specialist Accreditation Board; Member, STEP; Accredited Specialist (Succession Law) – Qld

Christine Smyth is the former president of Queensland Law Society, having served as its, immediate Past President in 2018, President in 2017 and Deputy President in 2016. Christine is a QLS Accredited Specialist (Succession Law), one of a handful of the thirteen thousand Queensland Solicitors to achieve this status, and Consultant at Robbins Watson Solicitors, a highly respected Gold Coast law firm.

In addition to her role within the QLS Council, Christine’s leadership contributions include membership of STEP Worldwide and the STEP Mental Capacity Global Special Interest Group. Christine’s ongoing commitment to excellence in client service and technical skill, has seen her recognized by clients and peers – with the prestigious Doyle’s Guide awarding her Leading Wills and Estate Litigation Lawyer and Queensland’s Leading Wills, Estates and Succession Planning Lawyer awards in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Christine’s other leadership contributions include membership of the QLS Executive Committee, Executive Management Committee, Audit and Investment Committee, Proctor and Symposium planning committees. Christine was also the inaugural chair of the QLS Council Corporate Governance committee. Christine has extensive board experience and is a member of the QLS Specialist Accreditation Board. In addition to her positions with QLS Council, Christine has experience on the Lexon Insurance Board and as Director of the Law Council of Australia in 2017. In 2018 Christine was appointed to the Law Council of Australia Legal Practice Section Executive. Christine is also a Court Appointed Estate Account Assessor.

Christine’s other leadership positions include prior roles with STEP Queensland committee and General Editor for Lexis Nexis’ Retirement and Estate Planning Bulletin.

A highly regarded succession, elder and funeral law expert, Christine is widely published, having a regular succession law column in the QLS membership magazine Proctor, various publications in STEP worldwide Journal, and is a regular columnist in the Tax Institute of Australia’s journal. In October 2017, Christine was awarded the Creating Change Award by Women in Business Awards of Australia. In November 2016, Christine was one of only five people appointed to the Queensland State Government’s Better Regulation Task Force with a view to giving back to the community.

Christine is also a regular seminar and conference presenter for industry bodies including QLS, STEP, Legalwise, TEN and the Cemeteries and Crematorium and Funeral Director Associations. 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.

Presenting: What’s new in succession law: Case law and legislation update

Dr Phillippa Stunzner

Dr Phillippa Stunzner, Clinical Psychologist, Family Consultant

Phillippa Stunzner is a private practitioner with her areas of practice endorsement being forensic and clinical psychology. She is a Family Consultant (Reg 7) with the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, preparing Family Reports and Social Assessments since 2002. Phillippa is a JCU graduate, completing her Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) in 1991 and Doctor of Psychology (Forensic and Clinical) in 2011. Her doctoral thesis explored the impacts of the interviewing environment on children’s suggestibility.

Presenting: Family Reports: What you need to know
Panellist: Reality testing clients in family law matters