Michelle Meares – President – Central Coast
Michelle is a barrister at 2 Selborne Chambers and previously the owner and principal lawyer of Central Coast firm Meares Law at Terrigal practicing primarily in family law. Michelle is a member of the Legal Aid Family Law panel. She was a Councillor of the Law Society of New South Wales 2021-23 and sat on a number of Law Society committees including as Deputy Chair of the Ethics Committee and member of Family Law and Privacy and Data Law committees.
She was the Secretary of the Central Coast Regional Law Society from 2019-2022 and has enjoyed mentoring young lawyers. She is a member of the Council of Law Reporting for NSW and volunteers with the Central Coast Community Legal Centre. In 2019, she was a Finalist for WLANSW Regional Lawyer of the Year. She has published in Lawyers Weekly, Journal of Internet Law and Law Society Journal and is a regular presenter at legal conferences including the NSW Bar Association Women Barrister’s Forum and the Law Society of NSW Specialist Accreditation Conference.
Michelle was born in Mt Isa, Queensland and moved to Queenstown, Tasmania and then Lae, Papua New Guinea before completing secondary school in Sydney. She settled on the Central Coast of New South Wales and completing her Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) at the University of New England. Her experience living in regional areas has given her an appreciation of the unique needs of those living and working in those communities and the rich diversity of lived experience which regional lawyers have to offer their clients and the profession.
Jennifer Spear – Vice President – Dubbo
Jennifer Spear is a Senior Associate in a private practice based in Dubbo. Jennifer studied at the University of New England and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Criminology, which included a year of study at Washington State University, USA.
Jennifer is currently the President of the Orana Law Society and Bushweb Chair for NSW Young Lawyers. In addition, Jennifer has had several years of involvement with NSW Young Lawyers as both a Regional Delegate and Executive Councillor. She has sat on various committees of the Law Society of NSW including the Rural Issues Committee and Ethics Committee.
Jennifer’s extended family are banana farmers from the Mid-North Coast of NSW, but has now found herself committed to the Orana region after marrying a local. She is proud to embrace her regional roots and looks forward to advocating for regional women to ensure they have the same opportunities, resources and access to justice as their CBD counterparts. A key focus for Jennifer will be to foster the collegiality and wellbeing of regional women lawyers.
Nicole Armitage – Treasurer/Public Officer – Newcastle
Nicole has practiced as a solicitor for over 22 years having graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 1999.
Nicole is the award-winning solicitor director of firm eConveyancing NSW which has been operating since 2012 and is an accredited electronic conveyancing practitioner.
Prior to establishing E-Conveyancing NSW, Nicole was a costs specialist and in 2014, Nicole was appointed a costs assessor by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW.
Prior to specialising in legal costs, and, in the year before graduating from her law degree, Nicole worked as a paralegal and finished her law degree whilst working full time. After graduating, Nicole worked in the area of personal injuries litigation and later, in superannuation litigation and administrative law.
Bronwyn Ambrogetti – Secretary – Newcastle
Bronwyn has worked at a senior level in community legal centres where support is provided to those experiencing financial hardship, social disadvantage, housing issues, domestic or family violence, discrimination and other legal and social issues. She has been the Managing Solicitor of the Hunter Community Legal Centre for the past 8 years and prior to that she was the Managing Solicitor of the Central Coast Community Legal Centre.
Bronwyn has organized programmes around community legal education and law reform activities relevant to the needs of the centres’ disadvantaged clients. She has mentored numbers of students who have done placements at the community legal centres where she has held management roles. She is also a regular presenter at CLC conferences – both state and Federal.
Bronwyn completed her legal education at Macquarie University and after being admitted to practice worked for several firms in the Hunter prior to commencing her CLC roles.
Catherine Henry – Committee Member – Newcastle
Catherine is the owner and principal of mid-sized regional firm, Catherine Henry Lawyers based in Newcastle and has specialized in health and medical law for over three decades. Her firm has the largest health law practice in regional NSW. Catherine is the national spokesperson on regional health and aged care/elder law for the Australian Lawyers Alliance. Catherine has served on numerous community boards and committees both in Sydney and in Newcastle. She was the inaugural NSW Branch President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance and a member of the Board of the NSW Legal Aid Commission whilst practising in Sydney. In Newcastle, she was the President of the Newcastle Regional Law Society for 5 years member of the Council of the University of Newcastle. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including in 2020 the Australian Lawyers Alliance Civil Justice Award and the Australian Law Awards Regional/Suburban Lawyer of the Year. In 2021, she received the NSW Local Woman of the Year (Newcastle) in recognition of her community involvement.
Catherine has served previously on the Executive of WLA NSW and as the Convenor of the Newcastle Chapter.
Rebecca Hegarty is a Partner at Bartier Perry with over 30 years of legal experience. After graduating from Sydney University with Arts (Hons) and Law degrees, she commenced practice as a lawyer, predominantly in commercial litigation and dispute resolution, and later moved into the area of corporate & commercial law.
Throughout her legal career she has been fortunate to be both a mentor and mentee and enjoys the opportunity to ‘give back’ when the opportunity presents itself. In 2021 she was named as Mentor of the Year by the NSW Women Lawyers Association for her work in this space. She has been an active participant in legal cadetship programs and has presented for Legalwise, on the topic of ‘Mentoring the Next Gen’.
In 2021 and 2022, Rebecca was named as a finalist in the Lawyers Weekly Commercial Partner of the Year category. Rebecca is the Vice-President of the Parramatta & District Regional Law Society, a Notary Public, an accredited Family Business Advisor with Family Business Australia, and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Charlotte Egan – Committee Member – Dubbo
Charlotte is a Principal Solicitor/Director at Booth Brown Legal in Dubbo, a small, regional law firm. Charlotte practises in commercial, property and rural succession law almost exclusively.
After growing up in Dubbo, Charlotte obtained her Bachelor of Law/Arts from the University of New England and has since obtained a Masters of Law (Property Law) from the College of Law. After completing her studies, she returned home to Dubbo and has continued to assist her very broad range of clients in a primarily regional law space.
Charlotte wears many hats including as a volunteer mentor to local Dubbo students with an interest in the legal profession, and Secretary of the Trangie Tigers Rugby Union Club.
Charlotte is a keen advocate for young women in the profession and is acutely aware of both the benefits and challenges of rural and regional legal practice – having lived it herself. She is keen to assist young women in seeking career progression opportunities, all whilst balancing life as well.
Shay Riley-Lewis – Committee Member – Newcastle
Shay is a qualified lawyer, environmental scientist and planner with over twenty two years’ experience in planning and environment approvals. Born and bred in Newcastle, Shay graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Environmental Science before completing a Graduate Diploma of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of New England. Shay has spent her career working in Newcastle, the Hunter and Regional NSW, working in large consulting firms and running her own planning consultancy for 11 years before graduating with a Diploma in Law from the Legal Profession Admission Board in 2021.
As a planner Shay has advised private and government clients on approval pathways for a diverse range of large complex residential, industrial and infrastructure projects. Shay has assisted multiple government agencies in assessing and conditioning complex approvals. As a practicing lawyer, Shay assists clients in planning, property, environment, construction and commercial disputes.
Shay has been a Committee member of the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) Hunter Branch for over 15 years and served as committee member for the inaugural term of the PIA Women in Planning Network.