A fresh round of 2021 Queensland Law Society award winners has been announced, in the categories of Access to Justice, Regional Practitioner of the Year and Workplace Culture and Health.
Managing Partner at KLM Solicitors Kelli Martin received the Access to Justice Award and is proud to provide a voice for vulnerable members of the community.
“I feel it’s an acknowledgement of the importance of the work I do and my firm does in seeking to improve access to justice for all, especially victims of domestic violence,” she said.
“On average, two women are murdered each week in Australia as a result of domestic violence. These tragedies and the threat of more potential tragedies are what continues to drive me to push for change and address the factors surrounding domestic and family violence.”
Carol Taylor and Rebekah Sanfuentes were both named Regional Practitioner of the Year.
Carol Taylor, Principal Solicitor at Taylor Law and Conveyancing, has been living with quadriplegia for 20 years and explains that, in the process of returning to law after a 14-year absence, she had to overcome many hurdles.
“I anticipated a level of discrimination from clients, but quickly discovered that my disability made me a better lawyer as I now brought a level of empathy to the table that I did not know I lacked prior to my injury,” she said. “In a very real sense I have been working to prove myself, and this award is an acknowledgement of my achievements, and an acknowledgement that those practitioners, those clients, those providers who would judge me for my disability are on the wrong side of history.”
Senior Associate at McNamara Law, Rebekah Sanfuentes, says the award acknowledgement is the ultimate reward for years of hard work and dedication to her clients and local community.
“It makes all those long hours and tough days worth it when colleagues, clients and the community acknowledge your efforts, which I feel is shown by having won this award,” she said. “It instils a further confidence within myself as a practitioner and encourages me to continue being a better version of myself.”
Kerry Gibb, Partner at MinterEllison, received the Workplace Culture and Health Award and emphasises the importance of creating a good workplace culture and contributing to employees’ wellbeing.
“I applaud QLS for offering an award in this category to bring attention to this important aspect of legal practice,” she said. “You don’t need a big budget or dedicated resources to develop and improve your workplace culture and health. There are many small steps every organisation can take at low or no cost to improve culture and wellbeing. It is also a continuous process, not a one-off event or program that you can set and forget.”