Over the space of a decade Kristy Bell, above, has personally experienced almost every aspect of criminal law in Queensland, without ever committing a crime herself.
From District Court judge’s associate to civilian police prosecutor, to working at both the Queensland and Commonwealth public prosecution offices, and more than seven years’ experience as a criminal defence lawyer – Ms Bell has had a front-row seat to some of the country’s most famous criminal cases.
Well-known in criminal law circles for her almost three years as a Partner of Howden Saggers Lawyers (HSL), two years as an associate at Fisher Dore Lawyers and two years working alongside legendary criminal lawyer, now Parole Board Queensland Deputy President, Peter Shields, Ms Bell has decided to hang out a shingle under her own name.
Bell Criminal Lawyers officially opens its doors today with a team of young lawyers led by Ms Bell – an accredited criminal law specialist and member of Queensland Law Society’s Criminal Law and Specialist Accreditation Committees.
The team includes experienced Senior Associate Sam Wildermuth and Associate Emma Kearney.
Mr Wildermuth has worked alongside Ms Bell for more than five years and began practising as a solicitor in June 2018, while Ms Kearney was admitted as a solicitor in February 2019. From the outset of their careers, all three have dedicated themselves to the practice of criminal law.
Ms Bell said yesterday the diversity in her legal roles – from all sides of the criminal law process – had developed her ongoing passion for that specific area of legal practice.
“The opportunities afforded to me through the practice of criminal law have been so rewarding,” she said. “I have worked alongside some of the most talented legal practitioners in the state. I have been incredibly fortunate to have mentors generous with their time and teaching from the outset of my career.
“For me, service to my clients is the reason I love this job so much. We are in a privileged position that brings with it great responsibility, but it also brings the opportunity to make real difference in people’s lives.
“The significance of what we do, and the difference good legal representation can make, should never be understated. Every day brings a new challenge.”
Ms Bell said starting a new firm from scratch did not come without challenges, but she was confident she had the team with the ability to succeed.
“Bell Criminal Lawyers is so lucky to have such a talented, dedicated team, producing high-quality work,” she said.
“My time at Peter Shields Laywers really left a lasting impression on me. Working in an office with four, highly intelligent and experienced criminal lawyers, all of whom were QLS accredited specialists, really set the bar in terms of my own goals for practice.
“It is that level of specialised service that we aim to provide at Bell Criminal Lawyers.”