Family lawyer recognised with President's Medal for 2010

Family lawyer Glenn Thompson, recipient of the 2010 Law Society President's Medal, spends between ten and 15 hours work every week doing non-paying work. There are the committee meetings, and the subcommittees, and the representations in response to government enquiries. He gives lectures and papers at university seminars and for the College of Law, mentors, sits on panels, is guest magistrate in mock trials, does fundraising, and is a life member and manager of a local under-19s football club in the Sutherland Shire, and vice president of the Solicitors Golfing Society.

The list of his contributions is formidable and too long to detail, but also includes an involvement with the Kareela Water Project to turn grey water into usable water for schools, sporting fields and a golf course.

On the night the award was made, he was approached by someone from the Cancer Council to review a booklet for people with terminal cancer, about what happens to their children. It would, he said, take a couple of hours on a weekend, and how could he say no to such a worthy cause?

"I can't help myself. I like helping. People do appreciate a lot of what you do, and sometimes it's the little things that you get most appreciation for," he told LSJ.

Thompson says he is driven by a sense of community, and wants to give something back to the profession as well.

"I know I spend a lot of time on these activities and sometimes do a lot. Sometimes people are surprised at where I find time. I commence work between 6 and 6.30 to get on top of things, then do the non-paying work at lunch-time, after work and on weekends. I think it energises me, but having said that, I run out of steam in the early evening if I have to work back with office work."

Thompson is one of two partners in Newnhams Solicitors, a firm in Castlereagh Street where he has worked since 1985. He is a member of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, and has been a member of the Family Issues Committee of the Law Society since 2006. He is also a member of the Institute of Family Law Mediators and Arbitrators, as well as the Law Society representative and inaugural chair of the steering committee of the Family Law Pathways Network - Greater Sydney, a fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and was the solicitor representative on the Family Court's steering committee of the Children's Cases Program for over two years, which was the forerunner to the Less Adversarial Trial which was introduced into the Family Law Act in May 2006. He has been an examiner for specialist accreditation in Family Law on behalf of the Law Society.

Family lawyers, Thompson says, don't often get recognition, so this award is extra welcome.

"We do a lot of good work with the court, resolving complex property cases and very emotional children's cases ... In property matters, we have to know about company laws and trusts, and the tax implications of settlements. On the children's side of things, they are often very emotional issues, and we deal with counsellors, psychiatrists, and people's emotions and psychology."