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15th Victorian Legal Awards Winners

Access to Justice Award

Consumer Law Action Law Centre

Consumer Action Law Centre is a is a campaign-focused community legal centre. Consumer Action’s purpose is to make life easier for people experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage in Australia. Consumer Action supported 5 clients to give evidence at the Royal Commission into Banking Misconduct about banking and insurance misconduct. Consumer Action made significant policy submissions about law reform to prevent harm to vulnerable members of the community and to provide fast and adequate redress to those consumers who have already lost money due to misconduct in the financial services industry.

Accredited Specialist Achievement Award

Catherine Brooks, Law Squared

At Law Squared, our vision is to change the conversation people are having about lawyers. The Employment by Law Squared team furthers this mission by bringing innovation and disruption to the workplace relations space. Employment by Law Squared provides fast-growth businesses and corporates with the resources needed to help hire, manage and fire employees. Curated for directors, human resource teams and managers, the Employment by Law Squared platform is the go-to tool for all your employment law queries.

Dennis Liner

Dennis was admitted to practice in 1970 and was one of the founding Partners of Tisher Liner & Co (now Tisher Liner FC Law). He practised in a wide range of legal areas in the 46 years before retiring in December 2017. As an Nationally Accredited and Law Institute Specialist Mediator, he has conducted mediations for nearly 25 years. He was Chair of the LIV Alternate Dispute Committee and has been Chair of the Mediation Specialisation Advisory Committee for many years. Amongst other things, he still conducts mediations in a wide range of areas on a regular basis.

Community Lawyer or Organisation of the Year Award

LGBTIQ Legal Service – St Kilda Legal Service

Sam Elkin is Victoria's inaugural LGBTIQ Outreach Lawyer, working in a Health Justice Partnership with Thorne Harbour Health (previously Victorian AIDS Council). With a group of committed volunteers they run the LGBTIQ Legal Service, which provides legal help to LGBTIQ+ in many areas including discrimination, criminal law and family violence.

Government Lawyer of the Year Award

Chris Stafford, Legal and Governance Division, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Chris Stafford gained a Bachelor of Laws from Melbourne University in 1975, was articled to the Solicitor to the Public Trustee, and admitted to practice in 1976. Post-admission he worked on property and conveyancing matters in the then Crown Solicitor’s Office, until becoming an Examiner of Titles at the State Titles Office in 1986, assessing vesting orders and the registrability of land dealings. Since 2006, he has advised the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (and predecessors), on its portfolio responsibilities of Crown land, water, forestry and the environment.

In-House Counsel of the Year Award

Freyja McCarthy, Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Limited (TIO) provides an independent dispute resolution service for telephone and internet complaints. Freyja McCarthy is TIO’s Senior Legal Counsel and Privacy Officer, and manages the legal function at TIO. Freyja and her team provide legal advice across a broad range of areas, including disputes, privacy, consumer protection, commercial law, corporate governance, telecommunications and employment law.

Innovation Award

Polaris Lawyers

Polaris Lawyers is a boutique specialist personal injury firm. Polaris Lawyers was started in 2017 with a simple vision – putting injured clients first, and engaging and guiding them through complex legal claims to great results with expertise, open communication and innovation.

Boutique Law Firm of the Year Award – Sponsored by Clarence, Workplaces for Lawyers

Fortitude Legal

Fortitude Legal is a personal injury law firm with a unique strategic vision to provide national standard legal services to regional Victorians, delivered by local teams committed to their clients and the communities they serve. The firm has adopted innovative initiatives to overcome the geographical challenges thrown up by regional practice, not limited to distance and isolation. Cloud-based systems, mobile technologies and comprehensive integration equip their teams and their clients with tools that enable efficiency and accessibility in the delivery of legal services, staff development and flexible work practices.

Medium Law Firm of the Year Award

Keypoint Law

Keypoint Law is a disruptive law firm that is driving transformation in the legal profession, redefining how a modern law firm operates.
We have rehumanised the practise of law through a series of innovations that respond to entrenched problems in the legal profession, including the attrition of women from law, the marginalisation of older lawyers, and a fixation with financial metrics. Our achievements in 2018 marked a pivotal shift that saw Keypoint evolve from ‘disruptive start-up’ to an award-winning, profitable and fast-growing law firm; and a credible alternative to the mainstream.

Large Law Firm of the Year Award – Sponsored by Macquarie Bank

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

Maurice Blackburn is a national firm with over 30 offices throughout Australia and more than 1000 of the country’s best and most respected legal professionals. The firm is proud to be Australia’s leading social justice law firm having built a reputation on the unwavering belief that the law should serve everyone, not just those who can afford it.

Law Student of the Year Award

Beau Arnfield, Deakin Law School

Beau Arnfield is no ordinary Bachelor of Laws/Arts student. With a robust commercial skillset from Deakin Law School and an innate passion for creating large-scale social impact, Beau is revolutionising the concept of corporate social responsibility. He has represented Australia at the 2018 United Nations delegation in Geneva, co-founded a social enterprise start-up company – Spair Pair – and has been recognised internationally for his contributions towards bridging the gap between corporations and impact. With an entrepreneurial attitude and collaborative mindset he strives to make his mark meaningful within the corporate world.

Khayshie Tilak Ramesh, La Trobe University

Khayshie strives to maintain a balance between academic excellence and community involvement. She is the first Youth Mayor of Bendigo, a long time community legal centre volunteer and is completing her honours thesis. She has been named in the Top100 Future Leaders of Australia and was Young Citizen of the Year 2017. Khayshie is a trained mediator and serves as a Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services board director, a Multicultural Youth Network member, the Executive Officer of the National Rural Law and Justice Alliance and as the Victorian Multicultural Youth Commissioner.

Legal Reporting Award

Anthony Dowsley, Herald Sun

Anthony Dowsley has reported for the Herald Sun, Australia’s most read newspaper, for 15 years. The paper has a proud history of setting the agenda and advocating for Victorians. Dowsley’s Lawyer X legal scandal investigation led to a Royal Commission. His probe into investigations of the murders of police officers Silk and Miller has led to the case returning to court and IBAC public hearings.

Mentor of the Year Award

Her Hon. Judge Marich, County Court of Victoria


Regional Lawyer of the Year Award

Jacqui Brauman, TBA Law

TBA Law helps families to protect their legal rights and interest by providing excellent legal services in estate planning, property, asset protection and separation.

Suburban Lawyer of the Year Award

David Davis, David Davis & Associates

David and his team established an independent Melbourne law firm in 2008 now based in the northern suburbs. The practice covers a range of areas including complex estate and business succession planning, estate and commercial disputes, property law, Elder Law and VCAT Guardianship matters. The firm provides clarity around fees, and better serves its clients with its cutting-edge technology without losing the team’s valued human touch founded on the values of dignity, openness, approachability and warmth.

Rising Star of the Year Award – Sponsored by Lex Medicus

Blake Connell

Blake is a solicitor at Herbert Smith Freehills in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) team who is passionate about using technology to solve legal problems. With a background in software design, he has recently been seconded to Sydney, Perth and Singapore to design, build and implement different legal software solutions. Blake is also COO at Out For Australia, a national volunteer organisation which fights for LGBTIQ equality through mentoring, as well as a Board Member at Minus18, Australia’s largest LGBTIQ youth organisation.

Welbeing Award – Sponsored by legalsuper

Rankin Business Lawyers

Rankin Business Lawyers is a full service legal practice that offers a range of commercial legal services. In short, they help business. They help you solve problems and exploit opportunities. They do this with a focus on clear and timely communication and delivery of practical advice and services. They believe that the relationships with their clients and referral partners are paramount and know that the better they understand your business and your needs, the better service they are able to provide.

Paul Baker Award

Winner: Merys Williams, County Court of Victoria

Merys’ approach to legal practice is driven by a determination to empower vulnerable people. As Deputy Chair of the Human Rights Committee, she appeared on behalf of the LIV before the Parliamentary Committee examining the police complaint system and was a vocal advocate for comprehensive reform of that system. She acted for refugees on Nauru requiring urgent evacuation for medical treatment. She is a supervisor at Springvale Monash Legal Service and a contributor to the Law Handbook.

Highly Commended: 

  • Gemma Cafarella
  • Paghona Peggy Kerdo, Kerdo Legal

Rogers Legal Writing Award

Winner: Tom Burgoyne, Fortitude Legal , “Cyclists Beware”, February 2018  LIJ

Tom Burgoyne is a Director and Principal Lawyer at Fortitude Legal, heading up the Geelong office. Tom's article, "Cyclists Beware", was published in the Law Institute Journal, highlighting an anomaly in the law surrounding cyclists injured in transport accidents which was revealed by a test case run by Tom. Subsequent retrospective legislative change benefited Tom's client and all cyclists. Fortitude Legal is a personal injury law firm with a unique strategic vision to provide national standard legal services to regional Victorians, delivered by local teams committed to their clients and the communities they serve.

Highly Commended: 

  • Mark Lebbon, Hall & Wilcox, “The rise of esports”, April 2018 LIJ
  • Charles Noonan, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, “Misleading online reviews: Not recommended”, April 2018 LIJ

Certificates of Service

  • Adam Wakeling
  • David McKenzie
  • Erica Contini
  • Fabian Horton
  • Frank Lynch
  • Hubert Algie
  • Jamie Bedelis
  • John Spender
  • Joseph Monaghan
  • Josh Taaffe
  • Lily Tell
  • Louise Dorian
  • Malwina Peacock
  • Maria Kourtis
  • Melinda Walker
  • Michael Morrow
  • Patrick McQuillen
  • Paul Ryan
  • Reto Hofmann