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Annual Report 2019 - 2020

Professional and personal achievements

Specialist expertise

There are 60 lawyers working for Legal Aid NSW who are accredited specialists. Two of our civil lawyers have specialist accreditation, 22 of our family lawyers have specialist accreditation, and 36 of our criminal lawyers have specialist accreditation.

Significant appointments

Two Legal Aid NSW lawyers, Sally McLaughlin and Jillian Kiely, were appointed NSW Local Court magistrates in October 2019.

Sally McLaughlin was working in the Indictable Team at Legal Aid NSW’s Campbelltown office at the time of her appointment to the bench. She joined Legal Aid NSW in 2009 as a criminal lawyer and represented clients for 10 years in the Local, District, Children’s and Supreme Courts, as well as the High Court of Australia. Ms McLaughlin was sworn in on October 8, 2019.

Jillian Kiely was the Solicitor in Charge of Legal Aid NSW’s Sutherland office at the time of her appointment to the bench, having worked for Legal Aid NSW since 2018. She had previously worked for 14 years as a lawyer with the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions on a range of matters from drink driving offences to murder. Ms Kiely was sworn in on October 28, 2019.

Outstanding staff achievements

Three Legal Aid NSW staff members, office manager Leanne Greenham, office manager Julie Ausburn, and family lawyer Allan Scally, received the NSW Service Medallion in 2020 presented by the Premier and awarded to employees who have completed 40 or more years of excellent service in the NSW Government.

Civil lawyer Merinda Dutton, a Gumbaynggirr Barkindji woman, was named the National Indigenous Legal Professional of the Year in 2019, in recognition of her outstanding advocacy for the rights of Stolen Generations survivors and Aboriginal people over the duration of her legal career. Merinda is a Senior Solicitor in the Civil Law Service for Aboriginal Communities.

Refugee Service Community Engagement Officer, Nohara Odicho, received a Humanitarian Award in recognition of her tireless advocacy for people who have experienced significant trauma and persecution. In particular, she was recognised for her work with young people and newly-arrived refugees living in regional areas. Nohara is herself a Syrian refugee and works in Legal Aid NSW’s Refugee Service.

Legal Aid NSW Port Macquarie Solicitor in Charge Juliana Crofts was the winner of the Government Lawyer of the Year at the 2019 NSW Women Lawyers’ Achievement Awards.  Juliana has 17 years’ experience as a legal practitioner. During that time, she has been a champion for women in the profession, and a leader in the Women’s Mentoring Scheme. She regularly speaks at schools and encourages girls to consider a career in law.

Crime lawyer Teela Reid, a Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, was named the UNSW Young Alumni of the Year in June 2020. Teela is a passionate advocate for abolishing systemic racism in the criminal justice process and the Australian Constitution. Most recently, Teela has been a researcher and lawyer working with the Walama Working Party on a proposal to establish a Walama diversionary sentencing court in the NSW District Court.

Manager of Legal Aid NSW’s Community Legal Centre program and NSW Public Service Commission scholarship recipient, Mia Zahra, was awarded an Executive Master in Public Administration through the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

Family lawyers Tereza Seric and Skye Hayward successfully passed their respective bar exams.