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All the glitz and glamour from the NSW legal profession’s night of nights

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The Law Society of NSW’s Annual Members dinner and inaugural member awards night is the event that epitomises excellence in the state’s legal profession. And the 2022 event was no exception. LSJ takes you through the glitz and glamour, celebration, and career-defining moments.

More than 200 of the state’s finest legal professionals gathered on Tuesday December 6 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation Hall.

NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman, Chief Justice Andrew Bell and the President and CEO of the Law Society of NSW Joanne van der Plaat and Sonja Stewart were among dozens of the profession’s leaders in attendance.

With its 32,000 strong cohort, the Law Society of NSW is Australia’s largest legal membership organisation. The awards provide an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the most exceptional members, who reflect the values of commitment to the highest ethical and professional standards.

The President’s Medal is the most prestigious legal award in NSW, this year awarded to Sydney lawyer Nicholas Stewart, a partner at Downson Turco. Stewart was instrumental in the establishment of a Special Commission of Inquiry into gay and transgender hate crimes, and has dedicated more than a decade to the betterment of law and justice in NSW.

“The unsolved homicides and serious assaults on our LGBTQIA+ community, especially in the four decades from 1970, remain a blight on our community. Mr Stewart’s tireless campaign for a judicial inquiry gave voice to those victims silenced by the crimes committed against them,” van der Plaat said.

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“Through his membership of the Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Mr Stewart has made invaluable contributions to the legal profession in NSW, being instrumental in revising the Society’s Charter for the Advancement of Women. He has also been active in mentoring women practitioners and law students.”

The Law Society’s Member of the Year is Mark Swan, a special counsel at Mills Oakley and long serving member of the Society’s Property Law Committee.

Van der Plaat praised Swan’s contribution to the Law Society and the broader community. “Mr Swan’s humble commitment to ethical and professional service benefits not only his practice and clients, but extends to emerging leaders in the profession. He reflects the values we celebrate as a ‘good’ lawyer,” she said.

The Awards honour a diverse array of legal talent in thirteen categories from experienced Accredited Specialist to the Early Career Lawyer of the Year and those who serve in our rural, regional and remote areas.

“As a rural practitioner of more than ten years’ standing, I’m delighted that these inaugural awards honour the crucial work that RRR solicitors do in their regions” van der Plaat said. Courtney Colwell, the Principal Solicitor at Lovett & Green in the Western Plains town of Warren was honoured as Rural and Regional Practitioner of the Year,

“Ms Colwell not only ensures access to justice for her small community, but also works hard to ensure her practice attracts and retains solicitors so that local people can continue to access legal help and advice where they live.”

The President and councillors of the Law Society of NSW congratulate all the 2022 Award recipients.