Week celebrates understanding of law in society

ACT Law Week will feature a range of events to celebrate and engage the local legal profession.

Chief Justice Helen Murrell is this year’s Blackburn Lecture speaker.

LAW Week is held annually in May across Australia to promote public understanding of the law and its role in society. 

Each year in Canberra the Law Society and its partners run a range of events to celebrate and engage the local legal profession.

One of the week’s showcase events is the annual Blackburn Lecture, which has been hosted by the law society since 1986.

This year’s speaker is Helen Murrell, the ACT’s first female Chief Justice. Her topic is “Post-Pell: Intermediate appellate courts in evidence evaluation in the digital age”.

Another of the week’s premiere events is the Golden Gavel competitions where young lawyers test their public speaking and comedy skills.

Competitors are each given five minutes to argue their case on a far-fetched topic – revealed only 24 hours beforehand.

A panel of judges will choose the winner, based on the speech’s humour, cleverness and originality, and the performer’s presence and delivery. 

The judging panel will be chaired by the young lawyers’ patron, Justice Geoffrey Kennett, while the assembled gathering will decide the People’s Choice Award.

Each year ACT Law Week also raises money for a local charity and this year the beneficiary is Painting with Parkinsons, an initiative of Parkinsons ACT, which uses art therapy to support affected people.

To reflect the work lawyers do, “CityNews” spoke to some of Canberra’s premiere lawyers to learn more about the important work they do.


Getting on the front foot when preparing a will

Maliganis Edwards Johnson partner Craig Edwards.

WHEN it comes to wills and estate planning, it’s best to get on the front foot and be prepared, says Maliganis Edwards Johnson partner Craig Edwards.

However, he says, sometimes people die without leaving a will, or if they have left one, it can be invalid or poorly prepared. 

Other times, even when a will is valid, someone may feel they haven’t been adequately provided for.

“A lot of people don’t know what to do or where to start when a loved one dies. A solicitor can guide them through that,” he says.

“It can be emotional work and, if there are disputes, a solicitor is able to ‘step back’ and look at all the individual points of view.”

Craig says he can help people navigate problems for people who might feel a will is “not fair”.

“Often there are oversights, particularly in an extended or blended family,” he says.

“It’s certainly not always a vindictive thing, but it can cause distress – they’re dealing with the loss of a loved one while coming to terms with the fact that they haven’t been looked after as they may have been expecting.”

Craig has been a solicitor for more than 30 years, specialising in personal injury law for the past 20.

“It’s a complex area, with our ageing population and people who have more to leave than ever before,” he says.

“I like talking to people and helping them feel prepared, or if necessary, untangle any problems that can arise.”

Maliganis Edwards Johnson, 60 Marcus Clarke Street, Civic. Call 6257 2999 or visit mej.com.au

Anna Neilan, left, and Lucy Stramandinoli of Neilan Stramandinoli Family Law.

Leading the way in family law

“IT can be quite overwhelming for those who have never had to talk to a lawyer about what happens when you separate,” says Lucy Stramandinoli, co-owner of Neilan Stramandinoli Law.

“For parents, their top priority is the kids. Life gets turned upside down and what used to be normal is no longer normal.

“Couples without kids who are going their separate ways still have to grapple with that parting. Often they’ve built a life together and it can be hard to picture the rest of their lives without their partner.”

With a team that has decades of combined experience, Lucy says Neilan Stramandinoli Family Law strives to be a place where people can come to find help.

“Most people want to keep things amicable and stay out of court. We encourage that very much,” she says.

“Especially when the parties have children, as co-parenting and communication about the children is critical as everyone in the family moves on from the relationship.”

Lucy believes it’s important to establish a connection with clients from the first time they meet.

“That’s why we ask our clients at the first meeting what the most important thing is for them as a goal in the process before they leave the appointment,” she says.

“We keep this in mind throughout the case and we talk about many different ways this can be achieved.”

Neilan Stramandinoli Family Law, suite 2, ground floor, 11 London Circuit, Civic. Visit nsfamilylaw.com.au or call 6152 0493.

Ken Hubert and Ashilpa Khanna of Capon and Hubert Lawyers and Mediators.

Team offer a variety of legal services

AFTER more than 35 years in Canberra, Capon and Hubert Lawyers and Mediators now host a team of experts to suit a variety of legal needs, says owner Ken Hubert.

The well-established general firm handles everything from property and commercial law, to wills and estate planning, family law and general dispute resolution, says Ken.

Each section of the firm connects with the others at Capon and Hubert, he says.

“For example, if you’ve got a family law matter, conveyancing issues can occur as well,” says Ken.

“On the commercial side, the property market became extremely busy over the last two years, partly due to people spending less on travelling.”

For Ken, it’s long-term relationships with clients and their families that matter. He says he has helped some clients for decades, including organising wills and estate arrangements, as well as probates.

Capon and Hubert Lawyers and Mediators, first floor, 32-38 Townshend Street, Phillip. Call 6152 9203 or visit chsol.com.au

Baker Deane and Nutt partner Lorraine White.

Accessible and innovative legal services

BAKER Deane and Nutt (BDN) is one of the oldest law firms in NSW, having been established for more than 160 years and providing expert advice with a personal touch, says partner Lorraine White.

With two offices, one in Canberra and another in Queanbeyan, BDN operates across NSW, ACT and Commonwealth jurisdictions.

Lorraine says the firm prides itself on being accessible, responsive, and innovative.

“Excellent staff, technology and systems ensure clients receive prompt, reliable and effective legal services,” she says.

Lorraine says BDN has managed the business of the firm through the COVID-19 pandemic well.

“Our systems and skilled staff have allowed us to continue providing legal services to our clients throughout the pandemic, including when our staff have been working from home,” she says.

“We have not needed to close our doors at all, and have been busier than ever.

“Our staff were already set up to work remotely. Over the past few years we have effectively conducted client meetings and court attendances from both our offices and from home.

“BDN has embraced the new and hopefully ongoing efficiencies that have been developed during the pandemic.”

Baker Deane and Nutt, Level 1, 1 Farrell Place, Civic, (call 6230 1999) and 260 Crawford Street, Queanbeyan (call 6299 3999). Visit bdn.com.au

KJB Law’s principal solicitors, from left, Des Moore, Jo Twible and Andrew Freer.

Down-to-earth firm keeps up with its clients’ lives

CELEBRATING the firm’s 45th anniversary this year, principal and solicitor Des Moore says that the team culture at KJB Law is an aspect that sets it apart as a local law firm.

“We are a down-to-earth firm. We always communicate in plain English to demystify the law to our clients and treat them as equals,” says Des Moore.

Fellow principals, Andrew Freer and Jo Twible, say their longevity provides consistency and certainty to clients as they navigate many different fields of the law at different times in their lives and in their businesses.

Andrew says it’s very satisfying to have built long-standing relationships with his clients over the 22 years he has been with KJB Law. 

“We have a personal approach and work collaboratively with clients and colleagues,” he says. 

“Our clients feel comfortable with us and have confidence in our ability to deal with issues that have arisen.”

Jo Twible started at KJB Law 25 years ago and remembers that at the time there were only 14 staff, and now the team is more than 30. 

“We tend to hold on to our clients so we are there should they ever need assistance and help in rebuilding their lives,” she says.

KJB Law, ground floor, 10 Corinna Street, Woden. Call 6281 0999 or visit kjblaw.com.au

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Week celebrates understanding of law in society