13th Victorian Legal Awards Winners

Access to Justice Award

Legacy Caseload Working Group

The legacy caseload refers to a group of about 30,000 asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat but whose claims for protection haven’t been processed. Changes to legislation make it more difficult for people to have their claims heard and to receive legal assistance. There are about 11,000 asylum seekers living in Victoria. The Legacy Caseload Working Group was initiated by the LIV in 2015 to explore options for responding to the unmet legal need arising from the “fast track” process and to ensure a coordinated response in providing legal assistance.

Group members:

  • Kate Browne
  • David Burke
  • Melinda Jackson
  • Alexandra Jannetto
  • Charlie Powles
  • Tina Turner

Accredited Specialist Achievement Award

Mark Albert Maier, McNab McNab & Starke Lawyers

Mark is a director of McNab McNab & Starke and heads up its practices in deceased estate litigation and complex wills. He has a long history in risk management training for will making, estate administration and litigation. He has been published in the Law Institute Journal and has presented for the Institute and other organisations on estate and risk management issues. Between 2005 and 2016, he was a member of the committee preparing the examination criteria for LIV specialist accreditation in wills and estates, the last eight years spent as chair.

Community Lawyer or Organisation of the Year Award

Linda Gyorki, Inner Melbourne Community Legal

Linda manages Inner Melbourne Community Legal’s Health-Justice Partnerships with the Royal Women’s, Royal Melbourne and Royal Children’s Hospitals which see free legal services provided to patients. Vulnerable members of the community are more likely to have legal problems and less likely to know where to turn for legal advice. People are almost twice as likely to turn to a trusted health and welfare professional for legal advice than to a lawyer. By embedding free legal services in major metropolitan hospitals, Linda and her organisation aim to improve access to justice for those most vulnerable in the community.

Deal of the Year Award

Port of Melbourne lease transaction, MinterEllison

The Victorian Government's sale of a lease of Port of Melbourne, Australia's largest container port, is one of the largest and most complex infrastructure deals of its kind. With a record price tag of $9.7 billion, it represents one of Australia's largest ever infrastructure deals and is one of the largest transactions in the Asia Pacific in 2016. MinterEllison acted as the Victorian Government's legal adviser on this marquee transaction, working closely with the Department of Treasury and Finance over more than two years to bring the asset to the market.

Government Lawyer of the Year Award

Kara Miller, Sustainability Victoria

Kara is the general counsel at Sustainability Victoria, a Victorian government agency. She is responsible for governance, contract management, procurement, grants, compliance and legal issues, as well as advising on and contributing to commercial and strategic issues. Kara started her career in commercial litigation, specialising in insolvency and intellectual property. She previously worked at Minter Ellison and ran the University of Queensland Student Legal Service. Kara also worked as an arts producer and presenter for 20 years, including at the Melbourne International Arts Festival. Kara has been a finalist for the Government Lawyer of the Year Award for the Association of Corporate Counsel (2015) and Lawyers Weekly (2017).

In-House Counsel of the Year Award

Agata Jarbin, State Trustees

Agata heads the State Trustees in-house legal team. Her technical knowledge and commercially astute advice have contributed to the success of the organisation. She prides herself on delivering exceptional customer service through understanding and anticipating client needs. In her own time, Agata chairs the ERHMA Board and is passionate about advocating for disability services and creating a community that better services those with special needs. Agata was previously a partner of King & Wood Mallesons.

Innovation Award


Settify provides client engagement web apps to support traditional legal practices. Settify allows clients and potential clients to get started on their matter in their own time, and in their own space. The technology is easily connected to a firm’s existing website and uses artificial intelligence to guide the client’s initial inquiries in a conversational manner, leading them into their first consultation. Settify has been adopted by more than 20 firms nationwide since going live in January, and has delivered those firms over $165 million worth of legal disputes.

Boutique Law Firm of the Year Award (<5 Principals)

Beck Legal

Based in Bendigo, Beck Legal is committed to its goals of collaboration, innovation and expertise. Recognising that staff are the most important asset of their business, the firm's focus is on empowering their people to take ownership of their careers and to contribute to the overall strategic direction of the firm. Currently overseeing the final stages of construction of state-of-the-art offices at View Street, Bendigo aligns with the firm's commitment to provide new digital-age legal services to the Bendigo business community both now and into the future.

Medium Law Firm of the Year Award (6–19 Principals)

Colin Biggers & Paisley

Colin Biggers & Paisley was founded over a century ago. Today it is a legal practice with 68 partners and 430 staff. They are highly regarded for their expertise in construction, insurance, property, government, commercial litigation and dispute resolution, banking and finance, corporate and commercial, employment and safety, planning and environment, restructuring and insolvency, and transport and logistics. They act for major corporations, financial institutions, insurance companies, government departments and individuals. They have both the capacity and the expertise to deliver on complex national and multinational projects.

Large Law Firm of the Year Award (>20 Principals) – Sponsored By Pexa


MinterEllison is one of Asia Pacific's leading law firms. Their firm operates in Australia, Hong Kong, mainland China, Mongolia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom through a network of integrated and associated offices. MinterEllison's large and diverse client base includes blue-chip public and private companies, leading multinationals operating in Australia and overseas, global financial institutions, government organisations and state-owned entities. They have been involved in some of the Asia Pacific's most innovative and high-profile transactions.

Law Student of the Year Award

Colleen Chen Melbourne Law School Student

Colleen is an advocate, researcher and student at Melbourne Law School. Co-founding Interns Australia in 2013, she has driven public awareness and advocated for law reform to protect interns, helping to put unpaid work on the national agenda. Colleen has presented on employment, youth and diversity issues in Australia and abroad, including presenting her research to the International Labour Organisation in Geneva. She is an advisory board member of several youth and labour relations organisations, and the 2015 recipient of the Commonwealth Government's National Youth Employment Award. 

Legal Reporting Award

Bianca Hall, The Age

Bianca is the deputy editor of federal politics at Fairfax and a former legal affairs reporter.

Mentor of the Year Award – Sponsored by South Yarra BMW

Rebecca Dickson, Melbourne Airport

Rebecca is the dedicated lawyer for the team that will deliver a new runway at Melbourne Airport. She is the president of the National Association of Women in Construction's Vic/Tas Chapter and a director on the Board of the Society of Construction Law Australia. In this capacity, Rebecca co-chairs the Young Constructors Committee and manages the delivery of the SoCLA mentoring program. Rebecca has mentored university students (working in and outside the construction industry) and lawyers developing their legal careers.

Regional Lawyer of the Year Award

Claire Barrance, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

Claire was born and bred in Gippsland, and is now a personal injuries associate in Maurice Blackburn's Traralgon office, where she represents local people involved in road accidents. Claire is a dedicated member of her local legal and broader community who believes the geographical area where a client resides should not inhibit their access to quality legal representation.

Suburban Lawyer of the Year Award

Canda Glanville, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

Canda is a principal and regional office leader of Maurice Blackburn's Frankston office. She is a highly accomplished road accident and workplace injury lawyer, and an LIV accredited specialist. Canda is committed to demonstrating professional excellence and ensuring injured clients have quality legal representation and access to justice in their local community. She is also passionate about promoting the benefits of pursuing a legal career in suburban areas. Canda has a special interest in the health and wellbeing of lawyers and exploring innovative solutions for those who practise law away from the city.

Top 10 Rising Stars – Sponsored by Lex Medicus

Winner: Kot Monoah, Slater and Gordon

Kot is a personal injury lawyer at Slater Gordon. He is also the chairman of the South Sudanese Community Association in Victoria. He arrived in Australia 13 years ago as a refugee. Since then, he has learned Aussie Rules Football and is now enjoying live games. He is an amateur soccer player in the Vic Soccer League and occasionally tries to be the “little Messi”, though his age is giving up on him. Kot does a lot of work with various not-for-profit organisations and with government departments.

Runner up: Demetrio Zema, Law Squared

Demetrio practises in commercial law and commercial litigation. An accomplished entrepreneur and lawyer having worked with many corporates, SMEs, entrepreneurs and ASX companies, Demetrio is focused on achieving outcomes and success for his clients. As founder and director of Law Squared, which launched in March 2016, Demetrio leads a team of 10 across three offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Demetrio is leading the #newlaw wave disrupting the traditional law firm model with Law Squared gaining recognition as Australia leading "new-gen" law firm.

Paul Baker Award

Carina Ford, Carina Ford Immigration Lawyers

Carina is the managing partner of Carina Ford Immigration Lawyers, one of Victoria's largest migration law practices. Carina has a strong commitment to promoting access to justice and procedural fairness in this area, the education and development of lawyers who practise in this area, migration law reform, and pro bono work and initiatives. She sits on and has chaired several Law Institute of Victoria committees and has recently been appointed the Law Council of Australia deputy chair of the Migration Committee.

President's Award

BottledSnail Productions

Honorary Life Membership

Derry Davine

Rogers Legal Writing Award

Winner: Fabian Horton, "Law, technology and new ethics" June 2016 LIJ

Fabian is a lecturer at The College of Law Victoria. He is the foundation chairperson of the LIV Technology and the Law Committee and in conjunction with his PhD research on how technology affects the law, he presents widely on issues such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and law apps. Fabian operates his own private virtual law firm, ConnectLaw and he has advised both government and non-government organisations on many aspects of technology and its impact on the law.

Highly Commended: Jonathan Kaplan, Adele Katzew, Roshaan Singh Raina