With Helen Reddy’s I am Woman playing in the background, Agnes McWhinney Award winner Tricia Price did a little shimmy as she walked up to accept the honour at last night’s Queensland Law Society Excellence in Law Awards.
Almost 400 people attended last night’s awards gala at Brisbane City Hall as a light was shone on the exemplary efforts of the state’s legal professionals.
Named after Queensland’s first admitted female solicitor, the Agnes McWhinney Award recognises a female lawyer who has established new pathways and demonstrated commitment to excellence, leadership and fidelity.
Tricia is currently the Acting Senior Principal Lawyer at Legal Aid Queensland in Cairns. She joined LAQ in 1997 as a Senior Solicitor. However she faced challenges in the early days of her career as she revealed in an emotional speech.
“I am a bit emotional. I hope one day this award is made redundant,” she said.
“I have been practising for 31 years and when I first came to Legal Aid Queensland, a rather senior male lawyer said to me ‘women were not meant to do criminal law’.
“I said ‘Babe watch me do it’.”
Tricia Price receiving her award last night.
Photos: Event Photos Australia – Jon/Thomas
Tricia wanted thanks to her colleagues as many LAQ and North Queensland lawyers received awards.
“I’m afraid the Far North has done well tonight. Go Cairns,” she said.
“I have an extraordinary team in Cairns. My colleagues allow me to deliver and develop services for the most vulnerable, most disadvantaged, most remote people including First Nations clients, some times with forgiveness rather than permission.
“Our work goes up to six kilometres to the PNG border. It is hard work, not easy work, challenging work. I love it and am passionate about.”
Tricia also thanked husband and two children.
“We spend many weeks away. Travelling away from home is not easy, when you are getting two children ready for school. All the female practitioners – barristers and solicitors – who are mums, we are still doing the majority of the work in most cases.”
Tricia also paid tribute to female lawyers.
“I have support in Cairns from who the women come behind me and I stand on the shoulders of the women who came before me,” she said. “There is support from the community and from the profession.
“I am very grateful and as my mum always said ‘good things come to those who wait’.”
Queensland Law Society (QLS) President Chloé Kopilović said of all the awards presented by QLS, the two highest honours were President’s Medal, which was presented annually at the Legal Profession Dinner, and the Agnes McWhinney Award.
“Named after Queensland’s first admitted female solicitor, the award recognises a female lawyer who has forged new pathways for themselves, their peers and those they serve through a commitment to excellence, equity, professionalism and service to the community,” she said.
“As a further acknowledgement of the award’s history we have asked Legal Services Commissioner Megan Mahon to present the award this evening.”
Commissioner Mahon was the inaugural QLS President to present the Agnes McWhinney Award.
The 2023 winners are:
- Access to Justice Award – Thelma Schwartz, Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service (Cairns)
- Agnes McWhinney Award – Tricia Price, Legal Aid Queensland (Cairns)
- Emerging Leader Award – Arabella Kullack, Maurice Blackburn (Cairns)
- First Nations Solicitor of the Year Award – Lorelei Billing, Legal Aid (Townsville)
- First Nations Student Award – Ceferina Villarin, Griffith University (Brisbane)
- In-house Counsel of the Year – Mel Scott, Megaport (Brisbane)
- Pride in Law Award – Jason Garrick, Legal Aid Queensland (Brisbane)
- Queensland Solicitor of the Year (Sole Practitioner) – Hazrabee Mustaffa, HM Lawyers (Brisbane)
- Queensland Solicitor of the Year (Small Firm: 2-19 PCs) – Adair Donaldson, Donaldson Law (Toowoomba)
- Queensland Solicitor of the Year (Large Firm: 20+ PCs) – Giri Sivaraman, Maurice Blackburn (Brisbane)
- Regional Practitioner of the Year Award – Bianca Stafford, Maurice Blackburn (Cairns)
- Workplace Culture and Health Award – Keypoint Law (Brisbane)
Keep an eye out for more coverage of the 2023 Excellence in Law Awards