2020 ECL Committee profiles
The QLS Early Career Lawyers Committee advocates for lawyers in their first five years of practice. The Committee organises networking and social events for ECLs and hosts seminars and workshops that focus on topics relevant to lawyers at the start of their careers.
Clare McDonald, Chair
A bit about yourself: I am Brisbane born and bred (with a penchant for overseas travel). I’ve been admitted in Queensland since 2016 and have primarily practiced in commercial litigation and dispute resolution across mid-tier, boutique and international firms.
Why you joined ECL Committee: I joined the ECL committee because I wanted to contribute to creating a collegiate profession amongst early career lawyers (which I feel is so important given the nature of our jobs). As my tenure on the committee continued, and I took on the position of Chair, my focus is now making sure the profession ‘moves with the times’ and supports early career lawyers who are making up a growing proportion of the cohort of legal professionals in Queensland.
Favourite lunch spot: New Shanghai for a dumpling extravaganza, just be sure to beat the rush.
One piece of advice for ECLS: Have patience that you will get to where you want to be in your career (we’re in this for the long haul) and have self-belief (we can be our own worst enemies).
Nick Knowlman, Deputy Chair
Thynne & Macartney
Prisoners Legal Service
A bit about yourself: I am a criminal lawyer who grew up in North Queensland. I hold a Bachelor of Laws with Honours from James Cook University and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from the Australian National University. In 2017, I relocated to Brisbane to focus my practice on criminal law and I have since acted on behalf clients charged with simple summary offences in the Magistrates Court to complex matters in the District and Supreme Court, as well as the Court of Appeal. I have also worked for the Department of Justice and the Attorney-General Queensland where he assisted with the provision of policy advice to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice regarding criminal and regulatory offences legislation and issues effecting the criminal justice system. I have sat on the ECL Committee for three years and I'm also the Chair of the ECL Committee Proctor Working Group and also the QLS representative on the Law Council of Australia's Young Lawyer Committee.
Why you joined ECL Committee: I started my career in North Queensland and joined the Committee in 2016. The Committee has been a great opportunity for me to meet other like minded early career lawyers and engage with the profession.
Legal career highlight so far: My first jury trial (even though we didn't win). Going through that process reminded me of it's importance and the role that a lawyer plays as a barrier between the client and the state.
James Conomos Lawyers (Commercial Litigation)
A bit about yourself: I am originally from the Gold Coast where I studied a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Government and International Relation at Griffith University. I am a solicitor with James Conomos Lawyers and specialise in commercial litigation, however I maintain an interest in many areas of law.
Why you joined ECL Committee: Early career lawyers make up a significant portion of the legal profession and can at times be the most vulnerable. I want to be a voice for early career lawyers and ensure they are supported to flourish in their career from the outset, but also into the future. I want to work with the committee, the QLS and the broader profession to improve retention of young lawyers in the profession as well as ensuring there is sufficient resources to provide support.
Guilty pleasure: Connoisseur ice cream! (eating the whole tub is the guilty part).
One piece of advice for ECLS: One isn’t enough! Back yourself and believe in your abilities, and do not be afraid to ask questions. Also, make sure you make time to unwind and spend time with your loved ones.
Norton Rose Fulbright Australia
A bit about yourself: Alice grew up in Central Queensland and holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and Bachelor of International Business from Griffith University. Alice is an Associate at Norton Rose Fulbright Australia, specialising in Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution. Alice spends her spare time at the gym and with her pug.
Why you joined ECL Committee: Alice joined the ECL Committee to contribute to the professional development of early career lawyers – whether that be through networking opportunities or otherwise. The ECL Committee operates state-wide and Alice also joined the ECL Committee to connect with regional young lawyers because having grown up in small regional areas of Queensland, she recognises that professional engagement and development is crucial for all legal professionals.
Favourite lunch spot: During the week, Alice enjoys a sneaky burrito bowl while basking in the sun along Eagle Street Pier, followed by a pick-me-up coffee from 3 Beans. On the weekend, Alice likes to get out of the city and visits Ocean View Estates Winery (far too regularly) for their local food (and a wine or two, of course!).
Hillhouse Legal Partners
A bit about yourself: My journey started at Hillhouse (when it was known as Hillhouse Burrough McKeown) in January 2013. I was fortunate enough to be chosen for a clerking role in my first year of university. I was able to work at Hillhouse whilst studying at QUT. Over the years of my studies I made sure that I worked in as many different areas of law as I could so that I could set myself up in the right area once I graduated. I was able to work in the property, tourism, management rights, family, litigation and commercial teams over my 5.5 years of studying.
Why you joined ECL Committee: Having worked in law for several years before being admitted I wanted to work with the QLS and other ECLs to help shape, and be a voice for, the future of our profession.
Favourite lunch spot: New Shanghai and Noosa Chocolate Factory’s white hot chocolate!
One piece of advice for ECLS: While your chargeable budget may seem like the most important thing when you’re starting out, make sure you also take time to talk with colleagues and catch up with friends, we’re all in this together!
Morgan Conley Solicitors
A bit about yourself : Cameron is admitted in both Australia and New Zealand, having spent his childhood in the latter. He studied a BLAW while enlisted full-time in the Australian Defence Force: Army, where he served as Military Police. Cameron has a keen interest in the ADF Discipline and Administrative systems, leading to involvement in Administrative matters and having articles published on International Humanitarian Law. Cameron works as a Lawyer at Morgan Conley Solicitors as part of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution team, having made these two areas the focus of his Masters of Law, which he is completing at the University of Queensland. Cameron spends his spare time riding motorbikes or talking to people at the gym.
Why you joined ECL Committee: Cameron joined the ECL Committee to be involved with the profession and to contribute to conversation regarding the development of early career lawyers. Cameron would also like to meet like-minded lawyers who share his passion for the ADF and give back to that community.
Favourite lunch spot Anywhere with friends and good company.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service
A bit about yourself: I was admitted to the profession in August 2017 and have worked as a criminal defence solicitor since. In 2018, I moved from the Gold Coast to Townsville for my current position with ATSILS. Outside of law, I enjoy a good book; a good cup of coffee; and traveling. Occasionally I do something questionable, such as enter a marathon.
Why you joined ECL Committee: After seeing a number of people leave the law within their first few years of practice, I wanted to join ECL Committee to support my peers and advocate for issues relevant to us. Access to a support network and professional development resources is crucial for a sustained career in law and avoiding burnout.
Favourite food: Japanese cuisine is impossible to beat!
A bit about yourself: I studied a Bachelor of Laws at James Cook University in Cairns, in my last year of university I spent a semester in Tokyo studying at Hitotsubashi University and working at a large domestic Japanese law firm, I graduated in 2015 and commenced working in a small commercial and commercial litigation firm. I joined O’Connor Law in 2018 and bought into the practice in the middle of 2019. When I’m not at work you can usually find me desperately trying to lead the resurgence of squash (the sport…).
Why you joined ECL Committee: To assist, promote, and foster the development and collegiality of early career lawyers in remote and regional practice.
Best work lunch/drinks venue near you: Piccolo Cucina, the orecchiette will blow your mind!
Legal career highlight so far: My admission day.
One piece of advice for ECLS : Look for opportunities wherever you can find them, you will forever be amazed how one door leads to another. Don’t be afraid to put your hands up for volunteer positions.
Robertson O’Gorman Solicitors
A bit about yourself: My journey started as a law clerk in a top tier commercial firm in Brisbane. I was going to stay on as a graduate lawyer once I finished university but I didn’t feel like it was the right fit for me. I was fortunate enough to be offered a position as a judge’s associate in the District Court of Queensland and there I was exposed to criminal proceedings every day. I realised how interested I was in criminal law and ended up taking a job at Robertson O’Gorman as a criminal defence lawyer at the end of my associateship.
Favourite lunch spot: Sage on Ann does the best ham, cheese and tomato toasted sandwiches
One piece of advice for ECLS : Don’t settle in an area of law or a job if you think you are not going to be happy. We are constantly reminded about how ‘competitive’ the legal industry is for young lawyers, but you do have a choice! I genuinely believe that you should take the time to find out what your passion is and chase that! Be open to learning new things and taking on new experiences that you may not have previously considered. Oh, and stay in touch with your university and work colleagues, regardless of where you end up, because they will be a great source of support going forward and really are the foundations of your ‘network’ as you start out.
Pippa Colman & Associates
A bit about yourself: I grew up on the Sunshine Coast and was lucky enough to be one of the first cohorts to graduate from the University of the Sunshine Coast's Law program in 2017. I have worked in small firms on the Coast since graduating in 2017. I have practiced primarily in Family Law, Domestic Violence, Child Protection and Wills and Estates. Away from the Law, I am a mad sports nut, especially when it comes to the AFL and netball. I play in the ladies AFL team, the Hinterland Blues, on the Sunshine Coast.
Why you joined ECL Committee: To be a representative for the ECL’s on the Sunshine Coast. I have been involved in our local DLA for quite a while, but am keen to work with the QLS to deliver some ECL specific events on the Coast. It's also a great opportunity meet other likeminded ECL’s around the state.
Favourite lunch spot: Riba Kai at the Concept in Maroochydore. It’s good for everything, before work coffees, lunch and after work drinks on a Friday.
Legal career highlight so far: I love that I'm now able to go back to the Suncoast Community Legal Service where I volunteered as a student and give back as a lawyer.
One piece of advice for ECLS: Go to events and put your face in front of your local DLA. It’s the best way to meet people and build relationships!
Johnson Winter and Slattery, Litigation and Dispute Resolution
A bit about yourself: I am a disputes lawyer with a particular focus on regulatory investigations and commissions. My main interests are running, films and escape rooms.
Why you joined ECL Committee: I joined the ECL committee because I am deeply interested in improving the resources available to junior lawyers who are passionate about the law and improving their craft.p>
Favourite lunch spot: For those special lunches along the way (i.e. promotion celebrations, birthdays etc), you can’t go past Massimo on Eagle Street Pier. Great value and quality Italian food.
Griffith University (In-house legal)
A bit about yourself: I am originally from New Zealand, and arrived in Brisbane in 2014 to continue my law degree at Griffith University. I graduated in 2018, and after having clerked at two of the big six law firms, found myself working for Griffith’s in-house legal team. I was admitted to the Supreme Court in October 2019, and now a Legal Officer for the University working within our HR Department, providing them with legal oversight on employment investigations, disputes and general employment/HR related questions that arise.
Why you joined ECL Committee: I joined the ECL Committee to provide a voice for junior in-house lawyers, an area of our profession that I noticed was missing from the committee!
Favourite lunch spot: On campus, Café Rossa, at Nathan.
Legal highlight career: Being recognised in the Queensland Women Lawyer’s Association’s International Women’s Day “Inspo List” for 2020.
One piece of advice for ECLS : Find a firm/organisation that makes you feel safe and comfortable in bringing your most authentic self to work every day..
Women’s Legal Service QLD, Family Law and Domestic Violence
Why you joined ECL Committee: It is a great opportunity to provide a voice for ECLs and get involved with QLS to help young lawyers.
Guilty pleasure: Maleny Food Co mango & macadamia gelato
Favourite mindfulness activities: Baking, cross-stitch embroidery, yoga and gratitude practice.
One piece of advice for ECLS: Never hesitate to ask for help and make sure you de-brief with your colleagues.
Lander & Rogers
A bit about yourself: I obtained my LLB (Hons), GDLP and LLM from QUT. I have been practising as a solicitor, specialising in general insurance (construction, property and fidelity), since 2016. I happened upon my area of practise by pure chance and have worked in mid-tier and international firms. I particularly enjoy working in this area of the law as it allows me to regularly appear in court as an advocate.
Why you joined ECL Committee: I joined the ECL Committee as a way to contribute to the future of our profession and give a voice to the unique challenges facing lawyers in the early part of their career. As ECL's, we are the future of our profession, and I consider it important to start working now towards the profession we want to see in the future.
Favourite lunch spot: When I can, I like to escape to my favourite lunch spot - Mr and Mrs G's at Eagle Street Pier.
Legal highlight career: My first appearance in Applications just two months after being admitted ranks as one of my all-time career highlights. The application, an ex-parte application for a freezing order, was the first time I ever had the opportunity to make oral submissions before the Supreme Court. I will always remember the feeling of relief and pride when Mullins J granted the order.
One piece of advice for ECLS: Read, read, and never stop reading. Make time once a week to read an article, a judgment or an opinion piece on a topic outside your normal area of expertise as you never know when it might come in handy.