2023 Annual Member Awards
The Law Society of New South Wales President's Medal has been recognising our most outstanding members since 2009. This annual award acknowledges a NSW solicitor and member of the Law Society of NSW who has made a significant personal and professional contribution to the improvement of law and justice in the community.
This award recognises a public sector solicitor, or group of solicitors, who perform above and beyond their usual responsibilities, and is judged by the Law Society’s Government Solicitors Committee.
- Walama Unit of Legal Aid NSW’s Criminal Division
- Lida Kaban, General Counsel, Legal, Department of Communities and Justice
- Bronwyn Tolhurst, Lawyer, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District
Michelle Crowther PSM was admitted to practice in 1986 and worked as an associate to The Hon. Justice Gallop of the Supreme Court of NSW. She joined Legal Aid NSW in 1988, working in the grants division as the senior criminal law solicitor. In 2008 she was appointed senior criminal law project officer in the Policy and Planning Division of Legal Aid NSW. Crowther was awarded a Public Service Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honour List in June 2014; she died on 25 December 2014.
In recognition of Crowther’s ongoing commitment to the highest level of client service delivery at Legal Aid, the GSC has decided to honour Michelle Crowther PSM by sponsoring an annual award to celebrate government legal service.
The $1,000 award is open to both individuals and groups who:
• are NSW public sector solicitors,
• hold a current NSW practising certificate; and
• are members of the Law Society of NSW.
To nominate a candidate, the nominator must also be a current solicitor member or associate member of the Law Society of NSW. A candidate cannot nominate themselves for the Award.
The award will be determined at the full discretion of the GSC. If, in the GSC’s opinion there are no candidates of sufficient merit, the award may not be given. The decisions of the GSC are final.
The John Hennessy Legal Scholarship is awarded to a public sector solicitor interested in undertaking a research project into legal systems in another jurisdiction or undertaking further study.
The scholarship, established by the Government Solicitors Committee, is an 'occasional scholarship' that is offered from time to time and covers travel, study and other approved expenses up to a maximum value of $10,000.
John Edmund Hennessy was born in 1940 and started work in the Crown Solicitor’s Office in 1957. Admitted as a solicitor in 1965, he was appointed Assistant Crown Solicitor, Civil Law Branch, in 1980 where he worked until he was appointed as Acting Magistrate in 1996 and Magistrate in 1997. John then served on the Legal Aid Review Committee as the Attorney General’s nominee for 17 years. He retired on 31 January 1999 and died on 13 February 1999.
John served the Attorney General’s Department, the profession and the administration of justice for more than 40 years, combining the highest professional standards as a solicitor with a long and dedicated service to the public. In response, the GSC has decided to honour his service by sponsoring the Legal Scholarship.
The successful applicant/s is expected to submit the written report to the GSC within six months of receiving the grant, which details the outcome of the research or study, including benefits achieved (this time period may be extended by the GSC where appropriate). The report should be around 1,000 words, the original work of the successful applicant, and of a professional, externally publishable standard. It may be published in the LSJ and/or the Government Lawyers Newsletter and must not have previously been published.
The report must not contain any information that breaches privacy or confidentiality obligations. Reports that do so may be rejected or the GSC may require that they be revised.
Additionally, it is expected that the scholarship winner will present the report at the annual Government Solicitors Conference.
Who can apply?
The scholarship is open to current members of the Law Society of NSW with a valid Practising Certificate, who are also NSW-based federal, state, or local government solicitors or associate members of the Law Society of NSW, excluding students.
The scholarship recipient will be awarded at the full discretion of the GSC. If no applications of sufficient merit are received, the GSC may determine not to award the scholarship. The decisions of the GSC are final.
The Community Project Award is open to all NSW Young Lawyer Sub-Committees that have organised a project, event or activity that has assisted the wider community in understanding the law or the legal system.
The NSW Young Lawyer of the Year Award recognises the service of a member of NSW Young Lawyers to the legal profession and community.
- Meihua (Mei) Gong, Senior Associate, Johnson Winter Slattery
- Jennifer Spear, Senior Associate, Duffy Elliot Lawyers
- Sarah Ienna, Solicitor, Children’s Legal Service, Legal Aid
The Professional Project of the Year Award is open to NSW Young Lawyer Sub-Committees that have organised a project, event or activity that has assisted the legal profession.
- NSW Young Lawyers Criminal Law Sub-Committee, 'Re-Thinking Punishment: An Exploration of Alternative Approaches to Sentencing’
- NSW Young Lawyers Family Law Sub-Committee, ‘Confidence in the Courtroom’
- NSW Young Lawyers Criminal Law Sub-Committee and Family Law Sub-Committee, 'Presentation on the Coercive Control and the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Act 2022'
This award recognises excellence amongst our rural and regional practitioners, going to an individual displaying excellence, innovation and leadership in their field and community. This person is committed to service of their community and goes above and beyond to ensure access to justice in regional and rural NSW.
- Vanessa Vazquez, Solicitor, Whiteley Ironside & Shillington
- Crystal Triggs, Legal and Program Manager, Bugmy Bar Book · Aboriginal Legal Service
- Steven Wright, Solicitor in Charge, Legal Aid, Broken Hill
This award recognises excellence on the part of an individual, legal team or law firm who actively promotes physical and mental health wellbeing. The award celebrates either innovation in, or the championing of, wellbeing initiatives, that improve wellbeing in the legal profession.
- Adrian Turner, General Counsel, FCB Group
- Leona Bennett, Head of Family Law at Southern Waters Legal
- Stefanie Costi, Solicitor, Watts McCray
This award celebrates the great tradition of supporting and providing access to justice for vulnerable members of our community. The award recognises an individual or legal team that truly goes above and beyond in terms of the delivery of legal services to the most vulnerable in our community. The award celebrates both volume and effectiveness of the legal offerings, as well as creating and championing a culture of service within the profession.
- Andrew Tiedt, Director and Principal, J Sutton Associates
- Sarah Dale, Director, Refugee Advice and Casework Centre
- Jahan Kalantar, Managing Partner, Executive Law Group
The Committee Member of the Year Award is a prestigious recognition designed to honour exceptional individuals who exemplify the spirit of dedication, expertise and collaboration and who have made significant contributions as part of a Law Society Committee. This member is someone who has provided valuable insights, informed perspectives and meaningful recommendations which have contributed to effective law reform, policy development, ethics and regulation and the broader legal professions understanding of critical legal issues.
- Andrew Chalk, Strategic Consultant, Chalk & Behrendt Lawyers & Consultants
- Ali Mojahedi, Solicitor ODPP, Chair of the Human Rights Committee and member of the Public Law Committee
- Jane Sanders, Principal Solicitor, Shopfront Youth Legal Centre