VIP treatment at admission

Newly admitted lawyer Leanne Hunter at her admission ceremony in Townsville with Petra Faas O'Meara. Photos: Supplied

It may be intimidating to stand alone in front of the Supreme Court, but for Leanne Hunter it was a VIP occasion.

The public servant was the only lawyer admitted at this month’s Townsville sitting by Justice North.

“As admission has so far been my biggest milestone, I knew that I wanted the day to be memorable,” the James Cook University (JCU) graduate said.

“I never anticipated that I would have a special VIP ceremony where I would be the only person being admitted before his Honour, Justice North.

“As I had undertaken my degree with Matt Gatehouse, his Honour’s Judge’s Associate, I was already feeling welcome in the court.

“But I was then very privileged to have my family and friends witness an intimate ceremony where Justice North provided me personally with advice and encouragement for my future career, which has made the day extremely special.”


Leanne said Justice North’s address to her that day was memorable.

“Justice North was very generous with his advice regarding my future career and my achievements so far and was markedly concerned that North Queensland not lose a future practitioner,” she said.

“But what stood out for me was the challenge he has set that previous Queenslanders had attended Oxford for the BCL (Bachelor of Civil Law) and excelled and that he expected me to excel in my studies when I attend later this year.”

Leanne signing the solicitors roll.

And Leanne has excelled in her JCU studies, achieving a 6.96 Grade Point Average and delivering the address at the March graduation ceremony.

“I was honoured to be requested by the Dean of Law, Associate Professor Jamie Fellows to present the address on behalf of the graduates at this year’s College of Law, Business and Governance graduation ceremony.

“I was selected due to my outstanding academic record during my time at JCU, including First Class Honours for which I received the Marylyn Mayo Medal and I was also the recipient of the University Medal for outstanding academic achievement.


“I felt a great responsibility to thank both the University and the academics and other staff, as well as the families and friends of the graduates and hopefully I echoed some of the graduates’ thoughts on the day.”

Graduation day with Jamie Fellows.

Leanne said she chose to study law while working for the State Government in a compliance officer role which made her realise “how important legislation interpretation was for producing effective compliance outcomes”.

“I also realised that I wanted to drive change within the processes that were being undertaken and that to do so would require successful prosecutions to establish a precedence,” she said.

“I didn’t like sitting on the sidelines when cases were taken further in the court process and so I decided that I needed to undertake a law degree so that I could be the person undertaking the proceedings in court.

“During my degree at James Cook University I was very fortunate to have found my niche as I found I enjoyed analysing different legal arguments.”

And Leanne choose one of her work mentors – Petra Faas O’Meara, the Director of Legal Services and General Counsel for the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water (DRDMW) – to move her admission.


“I have known Petra during my time in government and have always received amazing timely and clear advice from her. When it came time to undertake legal placement for my practical legal training, I contacted Petra immediately to see if she would be willing to supervise this for me and DRDMW and Petra welcomed me with open arms and massive amounts of support,” she said.

“Petra has always taken the time to give back to the profession by mentoring and training staff with legal aspirations and so there was no one else I wanted to have move my admission.”

Leanne will be focusing on Environmental and Administrative Law during her time at Oxford.

“I am hoping to then come back to focus on a career in State Government legal practice as I am enjoying my current work with DRDMW. I am not planning much further at the moment, as it will be important to solidify my learnings and gain some practicing experience.”

And when Leanne is not studying and working, she is part of the Australian Army Reserve.

“I was attracted to the Army Reserve as I wanted to have an outlet for my competitive sporting side as I needed to reactivate my physical fitness after having lived in Sydney for too many years,” she said.


“The State Government also supported officers joining defence and so I thought that this would be both a physical and mental outlet as well as a wonderful way to meet some more people socially.

“I also have one grandparent who was at Gallipoli, and another who served in the military police in PNG and so I wanted to continue my family’s history of service.”

Our Admissions section looks to celebrate all newly admitted solicitors and congratulate them on this significant achievement. There is an admission sitting in Townsville this month. Please email details to Ensure you include some details of your current role, along with a quality head-and-shoulders image.

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