Day one

2023 Annual Conference


Come and enjoy a masterclass in legal practice. Hear from a range of experts across multiple topics at the heart of the profession, and learn how you can go from good to great in legal practice.

This conference is for those seeking to be in-the-know about what makes legal practitioners exceptional, the latest trends in practice, and how the profession needs to adapt in the face of constant change.



8.00 - 8.30am

Arrivals and Registration, Exhibitor Showcase and networking

8:30am to 8.45am | Opening Address

8.40 - 9.50am

The Great Debate: ChatGPT – is it a nay or an aye for AI and the legal profession

Plenary opening session

Generative artificial intelligence is here, and its name is ChatGPT. It can create exceptional copy in a matter of seconds. We ask the question: how should the legal profession feel about this? Is this technology ripe with possibility and opportunity? Or is it an existential disaster waiting to happen? Join us for an engaging, sometimes funny, but very serious debate on how generative AI will impact the legal profession. The legal experts will tackle the technology itself, the ethics behind it, its potential impacts on the profession, the rules and regulations all solicitors need to be aware of, and much more. This is a must-attend session for anyone trying to better understand how the AI revolution will impact you as a legal professional.


  • Tom Dreyfus, CEO, Josef (Moderator)
  • Michael Bacina, Partner, Piper Alderman
  • Sam Burrett, Senior Manager - Legal Optimisation, MinterEllison  
  • Professor Lyria Bennett Moses, Director of the UNSW Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation, Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Law and Justice at UNSW Sydney
  • Michael Pattison, Senior Fellow at Melbourne Law School, CEO at ContractProbe
  • Cathryn Urquhart, Professional Skills Trainer, Facilitator of the Legal Practice Management Course at College of Law 

9.50 - 10.40am

Five trends that are shaping our future world

Join us for a riveting session with global futurist and lawyer, Anders Sörman-Nilsson, as we explore the pivotal megatrends shaping the future of the legal profession. Anders will delve into the transformative role of AI across industries and the imperative balance between technology and human insight/foresight in our tech-driven future. Learn how to amplify the human touch in client experiences amidst increasing automation and discover the profound impacts of the sustainability megatrend on innovation and responsibilities. The session will also address the implications of digital transformation in increasing 'cyberdebt' and cybersecurity for lawyers, emphasizing the importance of a digital growth mindset for enhanced productivity and impact in legal practice. Don’t miss the chance to gain invaluable insights and foresight to navigate, innovate, and champion the evolving landscapes of law!


  • Anders Sorman-Nilsson, Global Futurist

10.40 - 11.00am

Morning Tea break incl networking

11.00 - 12.00pm

Judging solicitor advocates

What makes a great solicitor advocate? As a rule, practitioners have the black letter law down pat. However, this does not always translate into being an effective solicitor advocate across the courts and tribunals. Join Cassandra Banks and our two Judges who have honed their skills across the decades, to discuss the essential skills and competencies all solicitor advocates need to do the best by court and client.


  • Cassandra Banks, President, the Law Society of NSW (moderator)
  • Her Honour Judge Julie Ward, President, NSW Court of Appeal
  • Her Honour Judge Kara Shead, District Court of NSW

The TikTok Boom

Meet three lawyers who are using social media to not just build a solid personal and professional brand, but also help educate the general public on various legal issues ranging from migration, criminal and family law. We ask a range of questions, including what are the ethical issues raised with this kind of content being shared online, and is the risk worth the reward? A practical and insightful session for those wanting to wade into social waters to grow their business.


  • Amy Dale, Content and Communications Manager, Law Society of NSW (moderator)
  • James D’Apice, Litigator, Chamberlains 
  • Jahan Kalantar, Partner, Executive Law Group 
  • Adriana Care, Managing Partner, Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers 

12.00 - 1.00pm

The biggest mistake I ever made

To err is human, to forgive divine. As lawyers, there can be serious consequences to an error. Two lawyers reveal the biggest mistake and toughest lesson of their careers, and how learning to recover from a blunder is a necessary step in the pursuit of professional excellence. The Law Society’s Director of Professional Standards also shares the key to avoiding common errors in practice. Success is a journey and extracting the sweet spot from the setback is a science all leaders must master.


  • Scott McDonald, Partner, Sparke Helmore (moderator)
  • Anthony Lean, Deputy CEO, Law Society of NSW 
  • Jen McMillan, Manager, Practice Support Services, LAWCOVER
  • Jennifer Wong, Solicitor Advocate, Crown Solicitor’s Office

Mastering effective communication

Clear and effective communication is a vital skill for lawyers, playing a pivotal role in regulatory compliance and positive client relationships. Through interactive discussions and practical tips, attendees will learn strategies to improve written and verbal communication skills – and hear some cautionary tales about why sub-standard communication is bad for business, your reputation, and possibly your practice.


  • Adjunct Professor Dr Louise Mahler, Executive Coach and Mentor 

1.20 - 1.45pm

Lunch session: Lawfully Explained Live

Lawfully Explained live: How can we, as lawyers, educate the public on their rights and the law? Listen in as we live-record an episode of Lawfully Explained, the podcast that does exactly that – explain the law. From settlements to surrogacy to self-representation, see how Law Society members demystify the process of engaging a lawyer and outlining citizens’ rights. Law Society members and accredited specialists also explain how podcasting and publishing are powerful marketing tools for lawyers and firms.

Session partnership with Southern Cross Austereo.


  • Francisco Silva, Content Specialist, The Law Society of NSW, and Producer, Lawfully Explained (moderator)
  • Thomas Russell, Partner, Piper Alderman and expert guest (legal costs and bankruptcy), Lawfully Explained
  • Amy Dale, Content and Communications Manager, The Law Society of NSW, and Host, Lawfully Explained

2.00 - 3.00pm

Curiouser and curiouser 

We’ve heard of IQ and EQ, and now meet the new kid on the block – CQ, the Curiosity Quotient. Curiosity has long been held as the springboard for every great discovery, every ground-breaking invention and every transformative idea. How can nurturing a culture of curiosity – along with IQ and EQ – in your practice help you navigate change, know your clients better, identify opportunities and drive innovation, and be the best lawyer you can be.


  • Eric Fleming, CEO, Fleming Job Hall

We need to talk about costs

Why do costs – one of the most heavily regulated areas of legal practice – remain such a contentious issue? We join Amber Ling, Partner at Cutcher & Neale, as she leads a panel discussion on recent developments in the costs landscape, the ethics of your disclosure obligations, and what to do when it all goes wrong. The panel will also explore the evolving notion of value – what does it mean for lawyers, how can we best deliver it, and what is the best way to charge for it?


  • Amber Ling, Partner, Cutcher & Neale (moderator) 
  • Thomas Russell, Partner, Piper Alderman 
  • Nick Satouris, Professional Support Solicitor, LSNSW
  • Elizabeth Harris, Director, Ovid Consulting 

3.00 - 4.00pm

Friends, foes, allies

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace have, over recent years, become an expectation rather than the exception. Research shows that diverse workplaces are good for business. As law firms and legal organisations become increasingly diverse, it is key that minorities in the profession feel equal, included and – when required – supported. We explore how lawyers can be effective allies to their colleagues, and what exactly allyship means. What can you do and say – and which behaviours do you need to be aware of – to ensure diversity and inclusion in your workplace stretches beyond lip service?


  • Brett McGrath, Senior Vice President, Law Society of NSW (moderator)
  • Zaahir Edries, Principal Legal Counsel - TAFE NSW 
  • Karen Iles, Founder and Principal Solicitor, Violet Co Legal & Consulting
  • Vaughan Roles, Solicitor, Legal Aid NSW

Success starts with you

Lawyers can be complex. They’re perfectionists, competitive, hard workers, prone to identifying risk and seeing the negative in every situation – and they love an argument. It’s what makes them great lawyers. What impact, though, does the legal environment, and the traits that make them effective solicitors, have on their mental health? And how does a failure to put physical and mental health first impact their work, clients and business? Join a panel of experts for an open and honest conversation about the greatest threats to the wellbeing of those in the legal profession, and the tools you can use to practice effective self-care for a thriving career.


  • Jennifer Ball, Junior Vice President, The Law Society of NSW (moderator)
  • Rachel Clements, Co-Founder and Director, Psychological Services and Principal Organisational Psychologist at the Centre for Corporate Health Pty Ltd and Resilia Pty Ltd
  • Tim Sprague, President of the International Coaching Federation – Australasia Chapter
  • Issabella Ferguson, Registered Counsellor, Alcohol, Stress and Burnout Counsellor

4.00 - 4.30pm

Afternoon Tea incl networking and Exhibitor Showcase 

4.30 - 4.40pm

The future of legal business

As a specialist banker to the legal industry, Macquarie shares its perspective on the key trends currently shaping the legal industry and provides insight on how firms can continue to be prepared for and thrive during change.


  • Matthew Bolle, National Segment Head – Legal & Insolvency, Business Banking, Macquarie Bank

4.40 - 5.30pm

Closing plenary session: Finding Passion and Purpose in Law

Join us for an inspiring closing session as we explore the vital topic of finding and maintaining passion and purpose in the legal profession. Whether you're a private firm lawyer, a sole practitioner, or part of an in-house or government legal department, this conversation is relevant to you. Discover strategies to keep your passion alive, especially when faced with the demands of administering justice. Engage in insightful discussions on uncovering your personal "why" and aligning it with your professional journey. Learn from experienced practitioners who have discovered their purpose and gain practical tips to nurture your own passion, find fulfillment, and make a meaningful impact in the legal field. Leave the conference energised and motivated to pursue your legal career with purpose and enthusiasm.


  • Claire Chaffey, Director of Membership and Engagement at the Law Society of NSW (moderator)
  • The Honourable Justice Sarah Hopkins, District Court of NSW, Principal Solicitor at the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) and Founder and Co-Chair of Just Reinvest NSW
  • Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt AO, Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology Sydney
  • His Honour Imad Abdul-Karim, Magistrate, Liverpool Local Court

5.30 - 8.00pm

Networking & Exhibitor Showcase 

Join us for canapes and drinks as we network, discuss the day, and meet our exhibitors to learn more of their products and services.