NSW Young Lawyers

Current Councillors

Below are profiles of the ten Councillors who do not currently hold Office Bearer positions. Members of the Executive Council who are not Office Bearers are elected for a term of two years and must participate in and/or chair at least one Committee during their term.

Akash Bhattacharjee

Akash is a Graduate-at-Law at HWL Ebsworth Lawyers. At NSW Young Lawyers he is the Vice Chair of the International Law Committee.

In 2018, Akash was Highly Commended for NSW Young Lawyer of the Year by Honourable Justice Gleeson of the NSW Supreme Court "for significant involvement in leading various projects in the international law field, including, on the subject of careers in climate change and renewables law." That same year, an event he led won the 2018 Best Community Project.

On Executive Council, Akash will advocate for environmental issues, innovation in the profession and increased social media engagement with members.

Akash holds a Bachelor of International and Global Studies with First Class Honours and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Sydney.

Email Akash or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Katharine Huxley

Katharine is an Associate in the Planning and Environment Law practice at McCabe Curwood, advising and appearing for both public and private sector clients. Katharine holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Science (Ecology) from the University of New South Wales.

Katharine has been an active member of NSW Young Lawyers since 2017 when she commenced practising as a lawyer and was appointed as a submissions coordinator for the NSW Young Lawyers Environment and Planning Law Committee that same year.

Katharine was elected chair of the Environment and Planning Law Committee in February 2019 and elected to the Executive Council in November 2019. During her time as Chair, the Environment and Planning Law Committee was awarded the 2019 NSW Young Lawyers Patron's Award for Best Professional Project by Jane Needham SC.

Katharine is passionate about access to justice and public interest litigation, particularly in the environmental and climate law space, and sits as the chair of the pro bono and CSR committee of her firm.

In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, kayaking and yoga as well as culinary experimentation as co-author of a food blog.

Philippa Noakes

Philippa is a Senior Associate at Seyfarth Shaw. She specialises in strategic industrial and employment advice and complex litigation.

Philippa has previously held the positions of Secretary of New South Wales Young Lawyers, and Chair of the Workplace and Safety Law Committee.

Philippa is passionate about ensuring that NSWYL provides opportunities for young (and new) lawyers to get involved and support each other. In her capacity as Chair, Philippa has worked with the Law Society's Employment Law Committee on its policy for unpaid internships to ensure that it protects young lawyers from exploitation and provides a guide for interns and law firms alike. She is passionate about rights at work and the importance of resilience at work.

Email Philippa.

James Skelton

James is a member of Swaab's corporate, commercial and intellectual property practice with a focus on digital health, corporate transactions, commercialisation of intellectual property rights and brand-protection strategies. He has significant in-house experience with Ramsay Health Care and a large not-for-profit membership-based organisation.

James was previously named Australian Young Lawyer of the Year by the Law Council of Australia for his work on wellbeing and diversity in the legal profession as part of NSW Young Lawyers.

Having been an active member of NSW Young Lawyers since 2013, James has coordinated numerous submissions for the Communications, Entertainment and Technology Committee, which have been well regarded by both government and industry bodies.

Some key areas of interest have been copyright reform in the digital age, serious invasions of privacy and changes to the innovation patent system in Australia. James is an advocate for positive wellbeing and strong mental health in the profession, and is keen to increase membership engagement across a number of practice areas and geographic regions.

James holds a Bachelor of International Studies and Juris Doctor from UNSW.

Email James, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Rhiannon Bell

Rhiannon is an Associate at the Federal Court of Australia. Previously, Rhiannon was a Graduate and then Solicitor at a top-tier commercial law firm, and was fortunate to be seconded to a community legal centre during this time. She is currently studying a Master of Laws at the University of Sydney, and holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons I) and a Bachelor of Arts – Psychology from Macquarie University.

Rhiannon became actively involved in NSW Young Lawyers through the Special Committee of Law Student Societies in 2017. She regularly attends the Civil Litigation and Public Law and Government committees. In late 2019, Rhiannon was appointed Submissions Coordinator of the Public Law and Government Committee. She served as a General Delegate in 2020.

Rhiannon is passionate about gender equality, promoting wellbeing of young lawyers, and assisting law students with the transition from university to the profession. Outside work, Rhiannon enjoys running, spending time with her family and friends, and trying new recipes (with varying degrees of success). 

Jennifer Spear

Admitted as a Solicitor in 2014, Jennifer is currently a Senior Associate in private practice based in Dubbo. She practices predominately in the areas of crime and estates (with a surprising amount of crossover between the two). Jennifer studied at the University of New England and Washington State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) and Bachelor of Criminology.

Jennifer has been an active member of the NSW Young Lawyers since 2017 when she was elected Regional Delegate for the Orana region. On Executive Council, the key focuses for Jennifer will be access to justice, wellbeing in the profession, and improving engagement and delivery of service to our regional members. Jennifer is also currently the secretary and CLE Coordinator of the Orana Law Society.

In her downtime, Jennifer enjoys a good coffee, travelling, playing netball and volleyball, and being taken on walks by her two large dogs.

Olivia Irvine

Olivia is a lawyer with Hazelbrook Legal. Having been admitted to practice in September 2020 - the ceremony was virtual but her passion for the law is real. Olivia received her professional experience as a volunteer with Redfern Legal Centre, prior to which she worked for many years in the rare book trade.

Since joining in 2018, Olivia has been an enthusiastic member of NSWYL. In 2019 she became the Submission Co-Ordinator of the Communications, Entertainment and Technology Committee, completing a record number of submissions and in November 2020, was appointed Vice Chair of the Committee. Olivia won the 2020 NSWYL's Administrative Law Moot and the NSWYL Golden Gavel competition.

Olivia was honoured to be elected to the Executive Council at the 2020 General Assembly and aims to continue NSWYL's culture of inclusivity and to grow resilience, engagement, and opportunities throughout the community.

Olivia is always interested in discussing IP, AI, international law, access to justice, and medieval literature.

Sarah Ienna

Sarah works in criminal law. She has been involved in NSW Young Lawyers since 2017, holding the positions of Secretary, Vice-Chair and (currently) Chair of the Criminal Law Committee. She was also a General Delegate in 2018 and 2019. Sarah was nominated for NSW Young Lawyer of the Year in 2020. 

Sarah is passionate about promoting wellbeing in the law, including mitigating vicarious trauma, empowering young lawyers to raise issues of concern in their workplaces, and equipping members of NSW Young Lawyers with skills to assist them in having a sustainable career in the law. 

Aside from her love of the law, Sarah has a lifelong passion for dancing. 

Maria Nawaz

Maria Nawaz is the Co-Head of Strategic Litigation at Grata Fund. She was previously the Law Reform and Policy Solicitor at Kingsford Legal Centre and a Lecturer at the UNSW Law Human Rights Clinic. Maria specialises in human rights, discrimination and employment law.

At NSW Young Lawyers, Maria was previously the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Committee and has been an Executive Councillor since 2018. She was part of the Human Rights Committee’s Refugee Assistance Project team which won the NSW Young Lawyers Patron Award for Best Community Project (2016 and 2017) and the Australian Young Lawyer Organisation Award (2017). She was highly commended NSW Young Lawyer of the Year at the NSW Young Lawyers Patron Awards (2020).

Maria is the Deputy Chair of the Law Society’s Human Rights Committee.

On Executive Council, Maria aims to focus on increasing NSW Young Lawyer’s law reform and advocacy work and addressing sexual harassment in the legal profession. 

Daniel Cung

Daniel is a Senior Policy Officer for the NSW Government, and previously worked in the not-for-profit legal sector. At NSW Young Lawyers, Daniel is Chair of the Animal Law Committee, and formerly held the positions of Vice Chair and Secretary. Daniel was admitted in 2017 and holds a combined degree in Laws and International and Global Studies from the University of Sydney.

Daniel was the 2020 NSW Young Lawyer of the Year for contributions to policy and law reform, and for bringing greater attention to the role of the law in animal protection. Daniel helped coordinate the 2015, 2016 and 2019 Animal Law Conferences, bringing together members of the legal profession and the general public to discuss opportunities for law reform and animal advocacy. The 2019 conference was Highly Commended in the NSW Young Lawyers Patron Awards of that year for Best Community Project.

On Executive Council, Daniel aims to focus on promoting access to justice and strengthening member engagement.