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Annual Report 2020 - 2021

Professional and personal achievements

Specialist expertise

There are 61 lawyers working for Legal Aid NSW who are accredited specialists. Two of our civil lawyers have specialist accreditation, 24 of our family lawyers have specialist accreditation and 35 of our criminal lawyers have specialist accreditation.

Significant appointments

Family Law Director Kylie Beckhouse was appointed as a judge of the Federal Circuit Court in November 2020.

Solicitor in Charge Nicole Dwyer (née Ford) was appointed as a magistrate of the Local Court in February 2021.

Solicitor in Charge Michael Ong was appointed as a magistrate of the Local Court in May 2021.

Outstanding staff achievements

Disaster Response Legal Service Manager Sally Bryant was awarded a Public Service Medal in the 2021 Australia Day Honours. Sally joined Legal Aid NSW in 1995 as a civil lawyer in the Coffs Harbour office and has delivered services to disadvantaged clients in regional communities ever since. In 2020 Sally led Legal Aid NSW’s response to the devastating bushfires. Within days she mobilised staff at an unprecedented scale, ensuring that solicitors were on the ground in affected communities.

Emma Langton, a proud Yaegl woman and Solicitor in Charge of the Civil Law Service for Aboriginal Communities, won the 2020 Michelle Crowther PSM Excellence in Government Legal Service Award. This award recognises a public sector solicitor who performs above and beyond their usual responsibilities. Emma made key contributions to the Bugmy

Bar Book and helped develop our Best practice standards for representing Aboriginal clients. She was also an active member of the First Nations Advisory Committee for the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug “Ice”.

The 2020 Criminal Law Directors Medal was awarded in December 2020. It was shared between two recipients – Harriet Ketley, Senior Crime Project Manager, and Paul Johnson, Solicitor in Charge at the Inner City Local Courts. Harriet has shown immense depth and breadth of knowledge of criminal law and procedure in NSW and is central to our criminal law reform and policy submissions. Paul’s career at Legal Aid NSW spans over 20 years, and for many years he has managed our busiest Local Court practice. On top of this, he manages District Court appeals, the Supreme Court bail practice and, from time to time, proceedings in the nature of declaratory relief in the Supreme Court.

Senior indictable lawyer Helen Shaw was the recipient of the Criminal Law Directors Medal for 2021. Helen is well-respected by her colleagues, public defenders, and private counsel alike for her invaluable assistance in criminal trials. Her attention to detail is extraordinary. Helen is passionate and committed to clients. She is motivated by altruism and a knowledge that there are people in the community who need the support and advocacy that Legal Aid NSW provides.

Managing Advocate Nicola Callander was the recipient of the Family Law Directors Medal in 2020. Nicola has held a variety of roles at Legal Aid NSW, including Solicitor in Charge of our care and protection practice and manager of our in-house advocates. Nicola is an incredibly generous person who always gives her time and expertise to others. Her colleagues commend her as a supervisor who gives those around her the confidence and opportunity to be “the best lawyer that they can be”.