Celebrating young talent

By Justin Whealing|13 June 2013

The inaugural Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30 Awards celebrate the emergence of talent in the Australian legal profession.

The inaugural Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30 Awards celebrate the emergence of talent in the Australian legal profession.

Not a moment too soon, these Awards, the only dedicated Awards ceremony hosted by a legal publication for young lawyers, acknowledge the valuable contribution these young lawyers make to law firms and corporations of all ages and sizes.

“Long gone are the days of musty legal practitioners drafting missives from ivory towers — the modern lawyer needs to be bright, commercial and personable,” said Monique Cowden, a finalist from Minter Ellison, at the top of her submission for the Dispute Resolution Award.


As Cowden correctly alludes to, the Australian legal sector is different, much different, from what it was last century.

However, that change has not been reflected in the multitude of legal awards ceremonies that continue to focus on senior members of the profession.

“I think it is a great idea,” said Nicholas Tobias, a finalist from Griffith Hack in Sydney in the Intellectual Property category, when commenting on the 30 Under 30 Awards. “Really, a lot of the focus of law awards goes to partners, and while partners obviously play a really important role in the conduct of legal matters, a lot of the day-to-day running [of matters] and dealing with clients actually falls to the juniors.”

Stories to tell

In-House Award finalist Khalida Popal's family is originally from Afghanistan. Even though she was born in Australia, the young lawyer with AngloGold Ashanti Australia in Western Australia could not speak any English when she started school, yet now she is developing and delivering legal training for AngloGold’s managerial staff.


“As I come from a family who migrated from a war-torn country in search of a better life, being a practising lawyer is an achievement in itself,” she said in her submission, which also called for the removal of restrictions that currently prevent corporate lawyers from volunteering their services for pro bono legal work in Western Australia.

A fellow finalist in the in-house category, Gregory Seeto, was the first in-house lawyer at Discovery Metals Limited and, at the age of 27, he had to set up and refine systems and procedures to adequately track legal and governance matters.

Not only do the finalists come from a diverse background, they come from a diverse array of organisations.
There are 24 law firms and corporations represented across the 10 categories.

Going global

Encapsulating the globalisation of the legal profession, Emma Purdue from Lander & Rogers in Melbourne is the only finalist in the Workplace Relations, Employment & Safety category, proudly sponsored by Hudson Legal, that is not with a global law firm.

The Awards also challenge preconceptions about what sort of lawyers will be successful in different practice groups.

Five of the six finalists for the Energy & Resources Award are women, a category that also features four Queenslanders.

“The future of the firm depends on the lawyers coming up,” said Dispute Resolution finalist Duncan Marckwald when talking about his firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

The Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30 Awards looks to the future of all firms and the profession as a whole.

It is young lawyers that are leading calls for greater diversity in leadership positions in law firms and at the Bar, and speaking out about arcane working conditions that are contributing to high rates of depression and attrition in the legal sector.

The finalists of the Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30 Awards are the legal leaders of tomorrow that will shape the culture of the profession for following generations.

M&A: Proudly sponsored by Charterhouse

Andrew Fisken: Norton Rose Fulbright (Vic)

Alex Kauye: Gilbert + Tobin (NSW)

Patrick Nicholas: Ashurst (WA)

James Nicholls: Corrs Chambers Westgarth (WA)

Geoff Petersen: Gilbert + Tobin (NSW)

Shona Seaton: Herbert Smith Freehills (NSW)

Banking & Finance: Proudly sponsored by EA International

Tony Chen: Corrs Chambers Westgarth (NSW)

Stuart Cormack: Gilbert + Tobin (NSW)

Nicola Cosgrove: Norton Rose Fulbright (NSW)

Jessica Huston: Norton Rose Fulbright (WA)

Kevin Lu: Ashurst (NSW)

Catherine Zahra: Gilbert + Tobin (Vic)

Workplace Relations, Employment & Safety: Proudly sponsored by Hudson Legal

Rohan Doyle: Herbert Smith Freehills (Vic)

Michael Gonski: Herbert Smith Freehills (NSW)

Emma Jones: Ashurst (WA)

Ajay Khandhar: K&L Gates (NSW)

Emma Purdue: Lander & Rogers (Vic)

Alena Titterton: Norton Rose Fulbright (ACT)

Telecommunications, Media & Technology: Proudly sponsored by Sofee

Jamie Griffin: Norton Rose Fulbright (Vic)

Tim Lee: Corrs Chambers Westgarth (Vic)

Zach Meyers: King & Wood Mallesons (Vic)

John Rhodes: Gilbert + Tobin (NSW)

Energy & Resources

Silvia Canetti: Norton Rose Fulbright (Qld)

Ryan Gawrych: Minter Ellison (Qld)

Aylin Girgin: Baker & McKenzie (Vic)

Emma Murray: McCullough Robertson (Qld)

Mei-Li Ng: Norton Rose Fulbright (Qld)

Sally Weatherstone: Gadens (NSW)


Danielle Arnfield: Premium Wine Brands - Pernod Ricard (SA)

Dianna Gu: SP AusNet (Vic)

Amy Nason: Telstra Corporation Ltd (Qld)

Khalida Popal: AngloGold Ashanti Australia Limited (WA)

Kimberly Statham: Virgin Mobile Australia/Singtel Optus (NSW)

Gregory Seeto: Discovery Metals Limited (Qld)


Philippa Briggs: Minter Ellison (NSW)

Daniel Davison: Norton Rose Fulbright (Qld)

Natalie Lazar: Ashurst (Qld)

Andrew Mahony: Sparke Helmore Lawyers (NSW)

Michael Russell: Colin Biggers & Paisley (NSW)

Dispute Resolution

Monique Cowden: Minter Ellison (NSW)

Emmelene Gray: Ashurst (Qld)

Ben Kiely: King & Wood Mallesons (Vic)

Duncan Marckwald: Corrs Chambers Westgarth (Qld)

Claire Schneider: Norton Rose Fulbright (Qld)

Paul Walker: Ashurst (WA)

Environment & Planning

Michelle Borzillo: Minter Ellison (Qld)

Scott Higgins: Gadens (NSW)

Dean Katz: Cornwall Stodart (Vic)

Sarah Mansfield: Henry Davis York (NSW)

Tim Poisel: Corrs Chambers Westgarth (NSW)

Intellectual Property

Emma Bekens: Norton Rose Fulbright (NSW)

David Fixler: Corrs Chambers Westgarth (Vic)

Sarah Gilkes: mdp McDonald Partners (Vic)

Elisabeth Koster: Minter Ellison (NSW)

Cecillia Suatan: Ashurst (NSW)

Nicholas Tobias: Griffith Hack (NSW)

The Awards take place tomorrow (Friday, 14 June) in the Ivy Sunroom in Sydney

Celebrating young talent
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