A high level of professional experience, a commitment to the professional development of her firm and a dedication to working in the community made Squire Sanders associate Rebecca Heath (pictured) stand out in a very strong field to scoop the Lawyers Weekly Legal People Future Star Award.
Heath beat off competition from Fox Tucker Lawyers’ Sara Bray, DLA Piper’s Jiayue Li, Melissa Ann Sinopli from MacDonnells Law, Ashurst’s Stephanie Papadopulous and Evelyn Tadros from Clayton Utz.
Heath, who is an associate in the general commercial litigation team at Squires, played a major role in a case where her firm represented two mining companies in the NSW Supreme Court earlier this year. She had a key role in preparing for the trial, including assisting counsel and drafting witness statements, settlement offers and closing submissions. In May this year she took part in negotiations alongside counsel that led to the case being settled before the trial started.
Heath also plays a leadership role in the firm, where she is proactive about knowledge development and has organised a bi-monthly ‘disputes division discussion group’ to discuss legal issues. She is also involved in mentoring junior lawyers at the firm. Heath is also proactive about developing client relationships, something that is demonstrated by the fact her submission included three references from clients.
With a particular interest in administrative law, Heath is an editor on the Australian Journal of Administrative Law, has been a tutor of administrative law at the University of Western Australia and has also put forward a proposal to the State Administrative Tribunal for the establishment of a pro bono panel for the Tribunal. She has also prosecuted a number of matters for the RSPCA on a pro bono basis and continues to be involved in pro bono work.
“I do a variety of pro bono-type work mostly through Squires,” said Heath, whose work as a judge’s associate inspired her idea for a pro bono panel.
“I spent a year working as a judges associate with Justice Barker when he was president [at the State Administrative Tribunal] and I’d see some applicants who came before the tribunal and they really just needed half an hour with a lawyer to explain a couple of things to them and it would help them a lot. I knew that was still the position and no one else had thought of the idea yet, so why not?”
One of Heath’s clients said in his reference that he gained “confidence from her decisions, comfort from her diligence and know my interests are protected by her honesty and integrity. You can’t ask too much more than that other than the greater technical experience that will come through time.”
Lawyers Weekly has no doubt that Heath is a worthy recipient of The Legal People Future Star Award and will one day be a leading light in the Australian legal profession.