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Annual Report 2018 - 2019

Professional and personal achievements

OBJECTIVE: A highly capable workforce

Specialist expertise

There are 63 lawyers working for Legal Aid NSW who are accredited specialists. Three of our civil lawyers have specialist accreditation, 20 of our family lawyers have specialist accreditation and 40 of our criminal lawyers have specialist accreditation.

Significant appointments

Three Legal Aid NSW lawyers – Georgina Darcy, Fiona McCarron and Ian Rodgers – were appointed NSW Local Court magistrates.

Georgina Darcy was Deputy Director, Criminal Law at the time of her appointment to the bench. Ms Darcy was sworn in as a magistrate on 26 November 2018. She worked at Legal Aid NSW for over 13 years in a range of roles, including Solicitor in Charge of the Legal Aid NSW Parramatta Justice Precinct office.

Fiona McCarron was sworn in as a magistrate on 25 February 2019. She joined Legal Aid NSW in 2002 and spent time at the Parramatta office before moving to Central Sydney, Inner City Local Courts, where she was a senior solicitor and played a significant role in mentoring staff in a busy metropolitan duty practice. Before joining Legal Aid NSW, she spent two years in the District Court as an associate to her Honour Judge Robyn Tupman.

Ian Rodgers was sworn in as a magistrate on 25 February 2019. He has been a criminal lawyer for almost 20 years, and has also worked for the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ ACT). At the time of his appointment, he was Legal Aid NSW Newcastle Solicitor in Charge. He was previously an associate to former District Court judge William Knight.

Brenda Staggs was appointed an Ombudsman of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. Ms Staggs joined Legal Aid NSW in 2015 and most recently led our disaster response work, helping clients affected by natural disasters including the 2015 Hunter Valley floods, the 2017 northern NSW floods following ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie, and the 2018 Tathra bushfires.

David Coorey was appointed an Ombudsman of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. Mr Coorey spent 16 years as a Legal Aid NSW lawyer, specialising in financial services litigation, policy and advice work. He led our consumer law work for some years and worked to develop staff excellence in resolving financial services disputes through external dispute resolution processes.

Family lawyer Simon Handebo was appointed a Registrar of the Children’s Court of NSW.

Civil lawyer Jean-Anne Searson was appointed to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal Consumer and Commercial Division as a part-time tribunal member.

Outstanding staff achievements

Family lawyer Anne Connor OAM was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the law in the Australia Day 2019 honours. Ms Connor is an experienced litigator and independent children’s lawyer who has served Legal Aid NSW for a combined period of three decades.

Client and Case Management System Director Susannah O’Reilly, and Deputy Director of Criminal Law Rob Hoyles, were each awarded an Executive Master in Public Administration through the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

Civil lawyer Dana Beiglari was awarded the Ascham Leadership Scholarship 2018. She researched initiatives in the United States and the United Kingdom that aim to increase financial inclusion in disadvantaged communities and has since written a series of articles with a view to supporting best practice in Australia, with a focus on strategies to divert people from high-interest short-term loans.

Civil lawyer Jackie Finlay was recognised as highly commended by the presenters of the Michelle Crowther PSM Excellence in Government Legal Service Award for her contributions to social justice and her expertise in the area of federal administrative law.

Family Law Director Kylie Beckhouse travelled to Xian, China, at the request of the Australian Human Rights Commission, to support a capacity-building workshop on legal aid for women and children.