A senior silk and junior barristers from Victoria have provided the bulk of the finalists from the Bar for this year’s Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Awards.
In the Senior Barrister category, open to barristers who have been at the Bar for more than 10 years, four of Australia’s most respected practitioners are in the running for one of the evening’s most prestigious awards.
Caroline Kenny SC is the only female silk among the more than 200 barristers with Melbourne’s Green’s List. Her submission demonstrated why she is in high demand as a trial advocate in the superior courts.
Two Brisbane-based Queen’s Counsel are also among the four finalists.
Dr Kerri Mellifont QC commenced at the private bar in Brisbane in 2001. She was a senior counsel assisting the Queensland Floods Commission in 2011 and is on Queensland’s Courts of Appeal pro panel.
Elizabeth Wilson QC is also based in Brisbane. She is the honorary treasurer of the Queensland Bar Association and is one of only five female silks in the state.
Chrissa Loukas SC from the Public Defenders Chambers in NSW rounds out the list of impressive Senior Barrister finalists. Loukas was made a silk in 2012 and has appeared as a trial counsel before the International Criminal Tribunal and has been a member of the NSW Bar Association’s Equal Opportunity Committee.
The future of the Bar is in good hands
Four of the five finalists in the Sheahan Lock partners Junior Barrister Award practise in Melbourne.
The odd one out is Ruth Higgins, from Sydney’s Banco Chambers.
Commencing at the Bar in 2006, Higgins’ expertise covers a range of areas, including constitutional law, media law and equity-related matters. Clients describe her as “extremely capable”.
Owen Dixon Chambers East barrister Cath Devine was also selected as a finalist. The family law specialist, described by Bruce Walmsley SC as “a leader of the junior Bar in the jurisdiction”, is also involved in the Victorian Women Lawyers mentoring program.
Diana Price has achieved a great deal since becoming a barrister less than three years ago. Despite only having signed the Bar roll in November 2010, Price, a member of Isaacs Chambers, has already established herself at the Victorian Bar. Last year she was selected as one of only 12 junior counsel to join the Trial Counsel Development program.
Elizabeth Ruddle is one of two finalists from Foley’s List. Ruddle signed the Bar Roll in 2005 and divides her practice equally between civil and criminal jurisdictions. Justice Stephen Kaye said Ruddle was “able to maintain a high level of competence in a long criminal trial” in a matter before him recently.
Jessie Taylor is the least experienced finalist in the Sheahan Lock Partners Junior Barrister Award. A well-known refugee advocate, Taylor, who has been a guest tweeter on Lateline, has been asked by a number of legal bodies to be a guest speaker in the past year, including Herbert Geer Lawyers, the Law Society of NSW Young Lawyers and the Edmund Rice Network.
A place for local expertise
In the six private practice categories, independent law firms took on larger global rivals with great success.
A total of 12 awards finalists are from three of Australia’s largest independent firms, compared to 11 finalists from international firms.
Corrs Chambers Westgarth leads the pack with five finalists, one in each private practice category. Gilbert + Tobin comes a close second with four, followed by Minter Ellison, which has three finalists.
Leading the way for the global firms is King & Wood Mallesons, securing four finalist spots.
The Awards will be held at the Sofitel Hotel in Melbourne on Friday 18 October. Tickets can be purchased here.