Sole practitioner Hazrabee Mustaffa rarely takes a holiday and her strong work ethic contributed to winning the Queensland Solicitor of the Year – Sole Practitioner award.
The founder of HM Lawyers picked up the Sole Practitioner Award at the Queensland Law Society Excellence in Law Awards on Saturday night at Brisbane City Hall. Adair Donaldson won the Small Firm Award and Giri Sivaraman received the Large Firm Award.
“I’m speechless which is very rare for me,” Hazrabee said. “As a sole practitioner, you give up holidays. You don’t get many holidays. You’ve got to get up injured and go to work with injuries like a broken back. I broke mine five weeks ago. I am honoured and deeply humbled to receive this award.
“I accept this award on behalf of all sole practitioners. As an independent lawyer working for children, it is very difficult. You work late until two in the morning on subpoenas for everybody in the court and then they don’t use them!
“It can be very lonely when you represent children. I want to thank QLS for recognising the hard work, dedication and excellence sole practitioners strive to achieve in their practice. On that note, you can’t do it by yourself, I thank my support team – Kristi Cash.
“I am so proud to be part of a community of practitioners with such high standards of ethics and service to our community. We definitely contribute to the advocacy role of our profession and young people who need a voice.
“Like The Castle and Dennis Denuto, we all have the vibe, passion and definitely the soul.”
Hazrabee established HM Lawyers in December 2006 in Victoria, having migrated from Malaysia in 1988. She relocated to Queensland in 2009 after the Black Saturday fires and re-established HM Lawyers in Stanmore.
Since 2009, Hazrabee has provided pro bono legal advice at the Suncoast Community Legal Centre based at Maleny, and for the past two years at Woodford under the auspices of the Moreton Bay Legal Service.
Queensland Solicitor of the Year (Small)
Adair Donaldson of Donaldson Law was also surprised to win the award on Saturday night.
Adair Donaldson receives his award from Jonathan Dooley of Vincents.
“This is a bit of a shock, I didn’t prepare something if I did win,” he said.
“It is a great honour and a big thing. Congratulations to the other people nominated.
“This award is not for one year’s work it is a result of 26 years’ work and the people who supported, followed and believed in the vision I’ve had.
“The number one person I have to thank is my wife Sam. She is my harshest critic and greatest supporter. I also want to thank Rolf (Moses – QLS CEO) and the team for a glorious night and I’m humbled to be here before you.”
Adair has built a large regional practice in Toowoomba. He worked as a partner in a national legal firm and founded Donaldson Law in 2016, with a primary focus on creating a national practice to provide a trauma-informed, alternative approach for survivors of abuse.
Since 2007 Adair has worked to develop educational programs and consulted on the legal consequences of a range of social issues. Adair has presented workshops to thousands of people and has worked with the NRL to develop and implement educational resources for their players and clubs.
In 2023 he was appointed to the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council. He has been an ambassador for Full Stop Australia since 2016.
Queensland Solicitor of the Year (Large)
Another surprised winner was Giri Sivaraman from Maurice Blackburn who congratulated the other nominees, in particular colleague Michaela Bartonkova.
Giri Sivaraman receives his award from Gary Lee and Rebecca Soper from First Title Insurance.
“Sorry Michaela, you should have won, and thank you Thelma (Schwartz) for a moving, powerful and memorable speech. I would like to thank my family, wife, children and siblings. This job takes time and devotion. They lift you and support you,” Giri said.
“I also want to thank my team and Maurice Blackburn for 20 years of incredible access to justice in so many areas such as indigenous, workers and class actions.
“It is a rare privilege to have values and purpose that are in complete alignment. I do not take that for granted, it is cherished and allows me to deliver. I’m not sure if winners get two wishes but here are mine – Matildas win the World Cup and we say Yes to A Voice.”
Born in India and raised in Zambia before migrating to Australia, Giri has called Brisbane home for the past nine years. Giri is a Principal Lawyer at Maurice Blackburn and head of the firm’s Queensland Employment Law department.
Giri is a member of the Queensland Law Society’s employment law subcommittee and an accredited specialist in workplace relations, and a Law Society of NSW accredited specialist in employment and industrial law. He has appeared before NSW, Queensland and Commonwealth parliamentary committee inquiries into employment issues such as bullying, sexual harassment, underpayments and the gig economy. Giri is the Chair of Multicultural Australia a not-for-profit organisation offering Migrant Support Services.
Keep an eye on Proctor for profiles of award winners