Government Solicitor


Recognise and celebrate outstanding government solicitors

Government solicitors honoured

The Law Society of NSW presented two awards to outstanding solicitors at the Government Solicitors Week in September 2020.

The John Hennessy Legal Scholarship was presented to Sarah Wyatt, a solicitor in the Department of Premier and Cabinet NSW and the 2020 Michelle Crowther PSM Excellence in Government Legal Service Award to Emma Langton, a Senior Legal Officer in the Aboriginal Services Branch of Legal Aid NSW.

Congratulations to Sarah and Emma, and also to Felicity Dougherty, General Counsel at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, who was awarded a highly commended nomination in the Michelle Crowther PSM Award.

John Hennessy Legal Scholarship

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.


Scholarship report

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.


Applications are now closed.

The scholarship recipient will be announced at the Government Solicitors Awards ceremony on Tuesday 7 September 2021.

Learn more about our 2020201920182017 and 2016 recipients.

Michelle Crowther PSM Excellence in Government Legal Service Award

This annual 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. 



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.


Nomination requirements

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.

In order 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.


Nominations are now closed.

Award winner will be announced at the Government Solicitors Awards ceremony on Tuesday 7 September 2021.


Hear from our previous winners