Ajay Mukesh Khandhar (pictured right) from Minter Ellison in NSW told Lawyers Weekly he was “really excited, very humbled” to receive the award.
30 Under 30 winners were recognised at an event at Establishment in Sydney on 5 June.
Mr Khandhar’s love for advocacy emerged at school after he got involved in public speaking and debating: “I come from a family of lawyers, so there was [always] very lively debate around the table and [law] seemed like a natural fit.”
He finds working with “intelligent people and very sophisticated clients” rewarding. “The challenges [clients] face are very complex but very interesting and I’m constantly learning every day,” he said.
Mr Khandhar advised the NSW Treasury last year on a lease of Port of Newcastle, the world’s largest coal export port, to a consortium for $1.75 billion. Before joining Minter Ellison, Mr Khandhar worked for K&L Gates for three years.
Mr Khandhar is passionate about equal opportunity in the workplace and mentors with Out for Australia to provide LGBTI university students with advice and support. He is also interested in promoting Asian-Australian cultural diversity in the legal profession.
Another winner in this category, Jessica Main (pictured left) from McKean Park Lawyers in Victoria, also has strong leadership skills.
She recently led negotiations with WorkSafe resulting in the successful resolution of a prosecution and avoiding a conviction against construction company Hansen Yuncken.
She was also elected president of the Young Lawyers Section at the Law Institute of Victoria last year, representing the interests of more than 8,000 law students and young lawyers.
Ms Main has written numerous articles for the Young Lawyers Journal and Law in Brief and received a glowing reference from a partner at her firm.
“Jessica displays a genuine passion for the law and her leadership capabilities are very evident,” said partner Chris Molnar.
Winner Alana Heffernan (pictured centre) of Maurice Blackburn was described by the managing principal of the Queensland employment and industrial law section, Giri Sivaraman, as “at all times exceptional”.
She has written and co-authored several articles published in Crikey, This Working Life, Women’s Agenda and BRW.
Ms Heffernan sits on the management committee of the Queensland Working Women’s Service and co-founded the Maurice Blackburn LGBTI network.
Ms Heffernan recently represented two clients at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.
She also recently resolved Federal Court proceedings in relation to a contravention of Enterprise Agreement matter worth almost $1 million.