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Annual Report 2017 - 2018

Professional and personal achievements

OBJECTIVE Excellence in legal services

Professional development for lawyers

There are currently 79 lawyers working for Legal Aid NSW who are accredited specialists: eight in civil law, 24 in family law and 47 in criminal law.

Supporting the career pathways of law students

Legal Aid NSW engages with law students through a range of programs including career events at universities, work experience placements and internships. Our participation in these programs is viewed positively by both staff and our stakeholders.

The number of law students and universities seeking placement opportunities for their students within Legal Aid NSW is increasing. In response, we began developing a more coordinated and consistent approach to governance of student placement arrangements; and prioritising the provision of placement to law students from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Joining the New South Wales Magistracy

Deputy CEO Richard Funston was sworn in as a magistrate of the Local Court on 30 April 2018. Richard worked at Legal Aid NSW for over 21 years in a number of roles, including Director Grants and Community Partnerships and Director Criminal Law before he was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer in 2017.

Deputy Director of the Criminal Law Division Leanne Robinson was sworn in as a magistrate of the Local Court on 23 April 2018. Leanne began her career at Legal Aid NSW as a social worker, and later worked in a range of solicitor roles in the Criminal Law Division at the Children’s Legal Service and later as the Solicitor in Charge of the Manly Legal Aid NSW office.

Solicitor in Charge of the Children’s Legal Service Debra Maher, was sworn as a magistrate of the Children’s Court on 18 June 2018. Debra first joined Legal Aid NSW in 2001, and worked predominately in the Children’s Legal Service including as Solicitor in Charge from 2010 until her appointment.

On 22 January 2017, Daniel Covington and Stuart Devine were sworn in as magistrates of the Local Court. Daniel worked at Legal Aid NSW for over a decade and held a number of roles in the Criminal Law Division over that time, including as a solicitor in Inner City Local Courts and Indictable teams, and as Legal Education Coordinator for the Criminal Law Division.

Stuart worked at Legal Aid NSW for 16 years in Inner City Local Courts, Committals and as a Solicitor Advocate. Stuart also took part in running the defended hearing worship for junior lawyers and was a great mentor for many lawyers at Legal Aid NSW.

Appointment to the Federal Circuit Court

Gosford Solicitor in Charge Jane Costigan was appointed as a Judge to Newcastle’s Federal Circuit Court in November 2017. Jane commenced work at Legal Aid NSW at our Gosford office in 1999. She was later appointed solicitor in charge of the Gosford office overseeing 19 lawyers.

Highest praise for staff with awards

On 1 November 2017, Legal Aid NSW won the 2017 Premier’s Award for Public Service in the category of Reducing Domestic Violence. This prestigious award recognises the efforts of multiple agencies collaborating on Safer Pathway, the NSW Governments response to domestic and family violence. Legal Aid NSW won the award in partnership with the NSW Police Force, Women NSW and the Department of Justice. Safer Pathway is a coordinated, interagency response to supporting domestic violence victims, including consistent threat assessment, streamlined service provision, and priority responses to victims at serious threat of injury or death.

Director Family Law, Kylie Beckhouse was awarded NSW Women’s Lawyer of the Year in August 2017. The Award recognises outstanding women lawyers who have achieved excellence in their area of practice, while advancing opportunities for women in the law.

As Director of Family Law at Legal Aid, Kylie oversees one of the largest family law practices in Australia. Kylie is renowned for her commitment to improving the quality of legal representation for children in family law. She is a leader in early intervention strategies and outreach work that takes lawyers out of their traditional legal practices and makes them more accessible to communities.

Port Macquarie Solicitor in Charge Juliana Crofts received a Highly Commended in the Crowther PSM Excellence Awards in 2017. The Law Society NSW Michelle Crowther PSM Excellence Award recognizes the significant contribution of a government solicitor or group within the last year.

Bev Lazarou, Senior Project Officer in the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program (WDVCAP) Unit, was named the 2018 Local Woman of the Year for Heathcote. Nominated by her local member of NSW Parliament, Lee Evans MP, Bev was recognised at the NSW Women of the Year Awards, a gala event held on 8 March in celebration of International Women’s Day. Bev has been working with the WDVCAP Unit for more than 10 years, providing significant advice to Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services regarding any issues that arise in relation to their work supporting domestic violence victims.

WDVCAP manager Michelle Jones was the 2018 recipient of the University of Sydney’s Graduate School of Government’s highest award in June 2018. Jointly assessed by the Graduate School of Government (GSG) and the NSW Public Service Commission, the Public Service Commission Award in Public Administration recognises academic excellence by a NSW public servant in the GSG’s Graduate Diploma in Public Administration program.

calendar iconThe year ahead

  • Launch a new campaign aimed at promoting staff health and well being called Being Well.
  • Develop a new model for regional offices that will be piloted in a number of office in late 2018 and evaluated in 2019.
  • Restructure our corporate services divisions with a renewed focus on service delivery.