Baxter brothers continue tradition

Bowen lawyer Kevin Baxter received his 50-year from QLS President Chloé Kopilović in Townsville. Photos: Supplied

The saying goes ‘like father, like son’, but in Bowen lawyer Kevin Baxter’s case it’s more ‘like brother, like brother’.

The Ruddy, Tomlins & Baxter (RTB) Director was presented with a Queensland Law Society (QLS) 50-year membership pin at Wednesday night’s Celebrate, Recognise, Socialise event in Townsville.

He is “very proud” to be one of four brothers to qualify as solicitors – the first time four siblings have been admitted as solicitors in Queensland.

“I was the third of the four Baxter brothers.  I did not seriously consider another career,” he said.

“I enjoyed law in a regional firm because I was able to assist clients many of whom were, or became, personal friends.

“The two areas of law I particularly enjoyed practising were personal injury litigation and estate administration.


“I am proud to have survived 50 years.”

And the family traditions continues with Kevin’s son Matthew a director of the firm, based in Ayr. And he did have some advice for Matthew.

“Yes, I advised Matthew that the practice of law was much easier when I commenced as a solicitor,” he said.

Kevin was admitted as a solicitor on 14 August 1973.  After starting studies as an external student at the University of Queensland, he transferred to the Queensland Solicitors Board to complete his studies.

His first employment was with Mighel Lee Bryce and Vandeleur in Innisfail, where he was articled for five years. His master was Vince Vandeleur, a past QLS President. 

He was engaged in 1973 with Ruddy, Tomlins and Baxter, a firm trading in 1925 as R.G. Ruddy and R.G. Ruddy and Tomlins in 1932. It later became Ruddy, Tomlins & Baxter in 1968 after his eldest brother Brian joined as a partner.


In 1982 he relocated to Bowen and has practised in the Bowen office of RTB. 

A career highlight was being awarded the Whitsunday Regional Council Citizen of the Year in 2012, in recognition of pro bono community work including incorporation of more than 30 sporting clubs and other associations.

Kevin was a board member for more than 10 years in both the Scartwater Trust and Murroona Gardens, both organisations being responsible for establishment and management of nursing homes.   He has been a member of many associations and sporting clubs, often in secretarial and honorary capacities.

Sole practitioner Lisa McNamara, who was presented with her 25-year pin on the night, also has a connection with Ruddy Tomlins & Baxter.

Lisa McNamara receiving her 25-year certificate.

Lisa studied Law at James Cook University, graduating in April 1995. She started Articles of Clerkship with Wilson Ryan & Grose Lawyers in April 1995 and was admitted as a solicitor in July 1997. After her admission, Lisa stayed with Wilson Ryan & Grose Lawyers until October 1999. From 1999-2002 she was a solicitor with Roberts Nehmer McKee, and then with Ruddy Tomlins & Baxter from 2002-2003.

In January 2004, Lisa established the firm Stevenson & McNamara Lawyers with Mark Stevenson. Since 2014, she has been the sole practitioner of the Townsville firm.


Lisa has been involved in high-profile cases such as the murder case of the Mackay sisters in Townsville in August 1970. 

“I appeared for the defendant instructing Mr Mark Donnelly of Counsel in the trial in the Townsville Supreme Court in October 1998, resulting in a hung jury.  A retrial did not go ahead because the defendant was ultimately found unfit for trial – dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” she said. 

“I also instructed Counsel for the Ahkman Ali Special Leave appeal to the High Court on stalking provisions.  I also have run a summary trial on the Liquor Act which resulted in changes to the statutory provisions.

“Crime is my preferred area of law – clients tend to be clearer in their thinking and instructions.  The challenges and benefits remain being in charge of your own destiny in many respects, but then the flip side is the realisation (ultimately) that you serve many masters (the clients, the Courts, the QLS, the LSC, LAQ etc).”

Lisa enjoys being a lawyer in a regional area.

“In the region, there appears to be a greater collegiality/comradery. Regional colleagues are often closer, know each other better and more likely to assist each other when difficulties arise not only in a person’s professional life but in the wider sense too.


“When I was a young solicitor I saw one of my Principals receive his 25-year badge and I thought at the time how old he was and doubted that I would ever make that – well, here I am!”

Lisa was a volunteer for the Townsville Community Legal Service for many years and was a board member with the North Queensland Ballet Pty Ltd (trading as Dance North) from 2002 to 2009.

QLS Past President Raoul Giudes also qualified for the 50-year pin, but was not at the ceremony, along with 25-year members Michael Clive, Anthony Douglas and Patrick Sutton.

Chloé Kopilović on her first to Townsville.

QLS President Chloé Kopilović made her first visit to Townsville to present the pins. She acknowledged five newly admitted practitioners – Isobelle Hewitt, Ashlyn Irwin, Travis Johnson, Tamara Splatt and Owen Tongue.

She also acknowledged QLS Senior Counsellor Lucia Taylor, who is a past 25-year pin recipient, and past recipients Anita Chand, Bill Mitchell, Michelle Morton and Kathryn Rayner.

Townsville District Law Association President Sarah Singh also spoke at the ceremony and once worked at RTB as well.


There was also a presentation to 25-year Accredited Specialist certificate holder Michelle Morton.

Michelle Morton with her certificate.

Magistrate Ken Taylor made the toast to the profession.

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