Downs and South West Queensland Law Association
Downs & South Western Qld Law Association
The Downs & South West Queensland Law Association was originally established in its present form in 1937. In fact, the Association is a little piece of history all on its own, as it is the oldest Law Association of Queensland. The Association is said to have been established in the late 19th Century; however, fell off the radar in the early 20th Century. Eventually, the Association was restarted in 1937 and has remained in operation since that time.
The Association prides itself on being an integral part of the legal community on the Darling Downs and in South Western Queensland.
The Association provides its members with an array of events which focus on both networking and education through professional development programs and courses. The Association organises regular continuing legal education seminars since 2015, as well as assisting to run the Toowoomba Intensive of the Queensland Law Society CLE program.
Benefits for members include invitations to social events within the region, including the early year Cocktail function, Annual Law Ball, and the end of year Christmas Party. Further, members have access to attend the professional development programs and courses, and access to educational updates.
I've met so many who have opened doors for me and remained in my life both personally and professionally. After a while, networking doesn't feel like 'networking.' It's both serendipitous and unpredictable, and something that just naturally becomes part of your work life and your personal life.
Bill was admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1978. He is an accredited specialist in Personal Injuries Law.
He sees the District Law Association as playing an integral part in the effective delivery of legal services to the community and for the well-being and governance of the profession within the region.
Bill is anxious to ensure that the traditional values and professional courtesies which have distinguished the profession over the centuries are maintained and at the same time ensuring that the practice of law remains relevant, rewarding and interesting to its members.
He is heartened by the advances in technology which enable continuing legal education to be made available to members throughout the region and by the camaraderie and goodwill which is evident among practitioners, despite the rough and tumble of everyday practice with its associated stressors.
He is committed to ensuring that the views and concerns of members are well known by the judiciary and the government of the day. He recognises that the profession is under scrutiny at many levels of society and is committed to leading the association in this region by seeking to ensure that its members continue as “…ethical, engaged professionals and citizens who understand the social, economic and environmental influences on and impact of their actions, and who are self-directed, resourceful, resilient and adaptable to change”*.
* University of Southern Queensland School of Law and Justice
Immediate Past President
Sarah-Jane is a solicitor with MacDonald Law, having commenced working with her Father in 2006. She finished her schooling and undertook her University studies in Toowoomba and is very committed to improving our region. Sarah-Jane was awarded the Toowoomba Region's Young Citizen of the Year award in 2011 for her community involvement.
Sarah-Jane primarily practises family law and is focused on working within collaborative law approaches to achieve client and child focused outcomes.
This is Sarah-Jane's fourth year on the management committee, and second year on the Executive Committee.
Meagan practises exclusively in Family Law and is an Associate at Wilsons The Family Lawyers. Meagan returned to Toowoomba, and the Committee, in late 2019 after spending some time in Sydney. Meagan is passionate about assisting her peers in creating and maintaining strong collegiate relationships within the region, and is particularly focused on encouraging and empowering young lawyers to achieve their goals.
Meagan is on our Continuing Professional Development Sub-committee, the Annual Cocktail Party Sub-committee and the Law Ball Sub-committee of 2022.
Sarah De Wit
Sarah is a lawyer in the Commercial Litigation, Dispute Resolution and Insolvency team at Murdoch Lawyers. After graduating from Griffith University, she began her legal career in Melbourne before returning to Toowoomba in 2018 to finalise her practical legal training. While her experience is varied across different areas of law and jurisdictions, since 2018 Sarah has practiced exclusively in debt recovery, commercial litigation, building and construction law and employment law. She joined Murdoch Lawyers in July 2020.
Sarah is on our Early Career Lawyers Sub-committee and the Law Right Legal Walk 2022 Sub-committee.
Alex was admitted in 2019 and currently practises in our Wills & Estate Department, under the guidance of Sarah-Jane MacDonald. Alex grew up in the Toowoomba region; having completed her high school studies locally and obtained her Bachelor of Laws from the University of Southern Queensland. Alex is well established in our region and recognises the importance of our small community mentality and the benefits of connections.
Alex is on our Early Career Lawyers Sub-committee and the Law Ball Sub-committee.
Naomi works as a Solicitor at Redhill Legal practicing in family law, child protection and domestic violence. Naomi has been involved with the Association and a committee member since 2011.
Naomi is on our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Sub-committee and is an organiser of the 2022 Ladies in Law Luncheon.
Alysha holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba and was admitted as a legal practitioner in the Supreme Court of Queensland in October 2012.
Alysha has worked in the criminal law sector in Toowoomba for over 10 years.
In 2011 she commenced work at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Toowoomba as a Legal Support Officer. She obtained a great deal of experience being involved in the prosecution of serious criminal offences including murder, large drug trafficking and serious sexual offending. After her admission as a Lawyer she took on the position of Legal Officer at the ODPP where she frequently appeared in the District and Supreme Courts for sentences and bail applications.
In 2017 she moved to criminal defence and has worked predominantly in the area of criminal law as well as domestic violence, child protection and civil litigation.
Alysha started at Bouchier Khan Lawyers in January 2020 and she appears almost daily in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court on a range of criminal and traffic matters. These include work licence and special hardship applications to representing clients with serious charges such as trafficking in dangerous drugs, serious assaults and sexual offences. She appears in Courts across the Darling Downs and regularly appears in the District and Supreme Courts.
In 2020 and 2021 she was named in the Women Lawyers Association of Queensland Inspo List of women who have inspired.
Alysha is on our 2022 Annual Cocktail Party Sub-committee and the 2022 Law Ball Sub-committee.
Carolyn was first admitted in the United Kingdom in 1997, and then Australia in 2004.Carolyn is currently Special Counsel at Shine Lawyers, and a past President of the Downs & South Western Qld Law Association.
Carolyn is on our 2022 Law Right Legal Walk Sub-committee and has been instrumental in organising the Toowoomba Walk for a number of years on our Committee.
Kirstie is a Mununjali, Yugembeh woman practicing in criminal law with Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Legal Services – Toowoomba (ATSILS). She holds a dual Bachelor in Laws and Arts – majoring in International Relations. Before transferring to ATSILS in October 2021, Kirstie ran the Toowoomba District and Supreme Court lists for Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) in Toowoomba. Kirstie commenced with ODPP in 2016 and worked for prosecutions in varying capacities over that time.
Kirstie has obtained experience working on both sides of criminal law, allowing her clients the confidence of having culturally supportive and sensitive representation from Toowoomba’s only practising female Aboriginal criminal lawyer.
Kirstie comes to the 2022 DSWQLA committee with experience on USQ Law Society (USQLS) as Careers and Education Officer, for which she obtained the inaugural President’s Award in 2019. She worked full-time while studying her dual degree, raising three children and undertaking volunteer roles with USQLS, Social Justice Commission Dignity Project, Off the Chain K9 Rescue Toowoomba, and tutoring Indigenous students at USQ under the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme (ITAS).
She is a member of Women Lawyers Association Queensland, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights Inc, and Indigenous Lawyers Association Queensland. Kirstie continues her volunteer work through both DSWQLA and the Social Justice Commission Dignity Project.
Kirstie is on our Early Career Lawyers Sub-comittee, the Law Ball Sub-committee and the Law Right Legal Walk Sub-committee.
After graduating from the Queensland University of Technology with first class honours, Kiri initially commenced her legal career in Brisbane before returning to Toowoomba in 2012. Kiri has worked exclusively in structuring, estate planning and estate administration since this time.
Kiri works for Murdoch Lawyers as an Associate. She assists clients across the spectrum: from young couples preparing their first Will, to families looking to protect their adult children’s inheritance, to older couples transitioning to retirement. Kiri has a particular passion for asset protection strategies, estate planning for families where a beneficiary has a disability, and post-death Superannuation disputes.
Kiri is on our Annual Cocktail Party Sub-committee.
Katrina was admitted as a solicitor in 2008. She began her legal career over 20 years ago in a small country practice in the Lockyer Valley that was established by her late father. Since that time Katrina has worked as an Associate to a well-respected District Court Judge, and for several years as a criminal prosecutions lawyer. After starting a family of her own, Katrina went on to work as a Principal Lawyer in a local ‘not for profit’ organisation, and in recent years she has moved into private practice working exclusively in family and domestic violence law.
Katrina has a strong sense of social justice and fairness. She describes her strength as her ability to take an objective approach to her cases, and to provide practicable and resolution focused advice. This benefits our clients by affording them the opportunity to resolve their separation issues amicably and efficiently, thus minimizing the financial and emotional burden that they would otherwise have to endure.
Emily is a solicitor in the National Abuse Law Department at Littles Lawyers, giving a voice to survivors of abuse and works with them to obtain the acknowledgement, compensation and justice they deserve. Emily grew up in the Toowoomba region; having completed her high school studies locally and obtained her Bachelor of Laws from the University of Southern Queensland.