Eight legal practitioners were this morning celebrated in Brisbane for becoming the latest cohort of Queensland Law Society accredited specialists.
The annual breakfast event formally acknowledges the graduates of the QLS accreditation program, presents a former graduate with the Outstanding Accredited Specialist Award and, this year, featured a keynote address by the Honourable Chief Justice Helen Bowskill.
The 2022 class (pictured) of criminal law graduates are Adam Moschella, Andrew Hanlon, Claire McGee, Zoe Navarro, Emma Higgins and Dylan Hans (highest achiever). Richard Brockett and Nickelle Morris graduated as the highest achievers in business law and personal injuries, respectively.
Chief Justice Bowskill, in an end-of-year address, commended the 2022 graduates for the determination, sheer hard work and self-discipline they had demonstrated.
“There is no doubt that the particular expertise that specialisation brings with it for a legal practitioner is enormously beneficial – to the individual, to their clients, to the administration of justice and to the broader profession,” her Honour said.
Chief Justice Helen Bowskill delivers the keynote address.
Chief Justice Bowskill also extended her appreciation to members of the legal profession for their efforts in meeting this year’s challenges, including COVID-19 and major flooding.
“What is really impressive is that we already had mechanisms in place to do that … and we were able to make arrangements quickly and effectively,” her Honour said. “One of the silver linings to come out of that period is much better lines of communication, greater flexibility and the practical manifestation of the collegiality between us.”
QLS President Kara Thomson today congratulated the newly minted specialists on their achievements and said they joined a group of 472 across the state – representing fewer than 3.4% of the Queensland legal profession.
“This morning is an opportunity to reflect on the value – to our clients, to the community and to the administration of justice – of the legal work which is well done, particularly the complex legal work undertaken by specialists,” Ms Thomson said.
“As an accredited specialist myself, I recognise the efforts you have all gone to to achieve this milestone, the sacrifices made to undertake the rigorous course requirements, the value you bring to the profession and the leadership role you will play moving forward.”
Ms Thomson later announced Toowoomba-based lawyer Catherine Cheek as this year’s Outstanding Accredited Specialist, and said Ms Cheek had demonstrated a proactive commitment to leadership and education of the profession since completing her personal injuries accreditation in 1998.
Catherine Cheek, 2022 Outstanding Accredited Specialist
Ms Cheek has practised in personal injuries since her articles of clerkship in 1999 and is currently a Special Counsel at Kennedy Spanner Lawyers. On accepting the award, she encouraged others to complete the “worthwhile process” of becoming a specialist, reflecting on her own experience of undertaking the program more than 20 years ago.
“Anyone here who has ever registered for the (course) knows that it is a tough gig, and anyone who has successfully completed it needs to be very proud of themselves for that achievement,” Ms Cheek said.
“It is important that the small percentage of practitioners that we talked about earlier is increased, because the more practitioners we have in our society who can operate at that high level, the better the profession will be.”
The 11 recognised practice areas of QLS specialist accreditation are business law, commercial litigation, criminal law, family law, immigration law, mediation, personal injuries, property, succession, tax and workplace relations.
Ms Thomson also recognised those who were unable to attend this morning’s event, including workplace relations graduates Sally McCutcheon and Hamish Procter.
2023 QLS specialist accreditation courses will be held in commercial litigation, family law, property law and succession law. Expressions of interest can be submitted via the QLS website.