Last Friday (25 October), junior and senior women of the NSW legal profession were honoured at a gala presentation dinner in Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
Hosted by the Women Lawyers’ Association of New South Wales (WLANSW), the event drew high-profile judges, including the president of the NSW Court of Appeal, Justice Margaret Beazley AO (pictured right); Federal Court Justice Anna Katzmann; Acting Justice of the NSW Supreme Court Jane Mathews, and head of the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal, judge Kevin O’Connor.
Justice Melissa Perry, a recent appointee to the Federal Court of Australia and the winner of the evening’s Woman Lawyer Advocate of the Year award, also attended.
Prior to the announcement of the winners, Professor Gillian Triggs delivered a keynote that focused on her time as president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, a role she accepted in 2012. She described the past 15 months as “a rollercoaster ride”, pointing to media backlash regarding her views on asylum seekers and freedom of speech.
“I now have become rather more used to the cut and thrust of what has proved to be a rewarding, if very challenging, role,” she said.
The evening’s blue ribbon award, the Life Achievement Award, went to Justice Beazley. She dedicated the award to her mother, who died last year, and her children, some of whom attended the gala dinner.
Admitted to the NSW Bar in 1975, Justice Beazley was the first woman appointed to the NSW Court of Appeal and was this year appointed as the Court’s president.
In her acceptance speech, Beazley spoke about the influence of women in the law and the women who have influenced her career, and concluded with a toast to all female lawyers in attendance.
She also paid tribute to Justice Mathews, the patron of WLANSW.
“I think why she has been such a beacon is because she’s not only done those hard yards, but she did every one of those hard yards with an extraordinarily high degree of professionalism, and she has lived her life sharing her knowledge and her wisdom,” said Beazley.
Other women honoured on the night were:
- Woman Lawyer of the Year in Private Practice: Susan Warda, principal of Coleman Greig Lawyers
- In-House Woman Lawyer of the Year: Carolyn Hoy, head of Group Corporate Legal at Westpac
- Woman Lawyer of the Year in a Community or Academic Organisation: Andrea Christie-David, a partner at Salvos Legal
- Woman Lawyer Advocate of the Year: Justice Melissa Perry
- Up-and-Coming Woman Lawyer of the Year: Natasha Walls from Lion Co
(l-r) Acting Justice of the NSW Supreme Court Jane Mathews; WLANSW president Margaret Holz; Susan Warda; Carolyn Hoy; Andrea Christie-David; Natasha Walls; Fay Calderone, director of Matthews Folbigg Lawyers, who received a Highly Commended award; and Justice Melissa Perry.