Stephanie Hicks became a solicitor in 1987, but this was only the latest phase in an adventurous life.
She was born in London, came out to Australia with her family at the age of five as ‘ten pound Poms’, and grew up with a father in the air force, posted all around Australia and Malaysia.
After an arts degree at the University of Queensland, a stint as a journalist covering the 1974 floods for the Daily Telegraph, and eight years in France, she returned to Australia and landed in Sydney.
Fired by an interest in industrial relations, she turned her mind to the law and began her graduate law studies at the University of Sydney.
Immediately upon finishing at the end of 1986 she was admitted and started work at Freehills.
She used to recount with delight how she was famous at Freehills Sydney for her five suits, one for each day of the week. She bought them with an advance from her first paycheck at the most upscale op shop she could find, in Double Bay, naturally.
The suits were good investments! Even after her work wardrobe expanded, Stephanie’s daughter Claire, born in 1991, remembers some of the original five appearing during her primary school days.
Although Stephanie loved the Sydney office, home was calling, and she was one of the earliest solicitors in the Freehills Brisbane office. She specialised in commercial leasing and made some lifelong friends, but eventually it was time for a change, and she moved to Nicholl Robinson Hallets (later Herbert Geer) in 2005 as a senior associate in the commercial property team.
Never one to get stale, she moved to Mahoneys in 2011 as senior associate in the corporate law team.
She also enjoyed telling the story of her interview with her future partner at Mahoneys, Antony. He concluded it by sighing: “I wish I could find someone with your experience and your skills, but in corporate, not leasing.”
Stephanie, never one to mince words replied: “Well, I think you’re looking for the moon.”
Antony paused for a second and said: “You’re right. You’re hired.”
During her four years at Mahoneys, she made her usual mark on the office, sending around her ‘Grammar Notes’, complete with competitions, including one for the best mixed metaphor!
As a solicitor, Stephanie always called herself a problem-solver, and anyone who worked with her can attest to her logic, clear-headedness, and pragmatism.
She was also a very skilled wordsmith, and thoroughly enjoyed the process of drafting so that every word was right. It was these skills that she sought to encourage in the numerous junior colleagues she mentored.
She saw helping people as the best form of problem solving, and law as the means to do it. Her cheerful, no-nonsense, can-do attitude won her many friends among her colleagues and clients and the young lawyers she mentored, her wide circle of friends, and Brisbane at large, thanks to her years volunteering at the South Brisbane Legal Centre. All benefitted.
Outside the law Stephanie was a talented musician (violin and viola), and her friends in the Amateur Chamber Music Society noted that she was the one who drafted the ACMS constitution, “ensuring its legality”!
She was also a keen conservationist. After her retirement in 2015 she moved to her beloved property in the Sunshine Coast hinterland and planted over 3000 native trees and a range of native grasses. She became a major part of the Sunshine Coast conservation scene, working with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy to secure an important new nature reserve and serving as secretary of Barung Landcare.
Stephanie died of pancreatic cancer after a short illness. She leaves behind many dear friends around the world and her much-loved daughter, Claire.