Friday 29th April 2022 from 9am

Wills & Estates Senior Associate Debbie Sage will join Robyn Hyland to talk about the importance of planning for end-of-life care and what options are available.

A collective recap of 2023 and message from our department leaders


As the year draws to a close, it’s time to pause, reflect and celebrate the milestones we’ve achieved together. We wish you a joyous and Merry Christmas. Below, our department leaders have shared their insights, recounting 2023 and offering a glimpse into what lies ahead. 

Legal Practice Director – Jeff Garrett

2023 was another busy but productive year for the firm across all departments. We are one of the few all-service legal firms and can usually cater to any client’s requirements under one roof. With offices in Northern New South Wales, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, we also offer convenience for clients attending our offices in person for their legal needs. This is particularly important to our elderly clients – to have that personal connection and understanding.

We usually act for people in the most stressful periods of their lives, which is why we take the time to recruit and train our staff to understand our client’s circumstances properly. It takes a lot of courage to share a client’s emotional journey through troubled waters and help them cope with a complex justice system. It is not something you learn in university while doing your law degree, nor is it the usual area of training provided at a law firm. We believe it is an essential skill to be able to communicate and connect with our clients and their families properly. Understanding and having genuine empathy for our clients is one of our top three values (as well as responsibility and integrity). Having said that, we also act for clients in many straightforward legal transactions that may not be as stressful but are still very important to them.

We have been active in the community, supporting our usual charities with Wills Days, where our estate planning lawyers contribute their time and expertise to have people’s Wills drafted for the cost of a modest donation to the charity. We were honoured to be recognized for our work in this space by The Salvation Army and were presented with the ‘Others’ Award in May this year. The ‘Others’ Award is given once a year to an individual or organization that exemplifies an extraordinary spirit of service to others.

We are also proud to continue to sponsor local junior sporting clubs such as the Bilambil Jets Rugby League and the Tweed United Football Club.

The intent or purpose of our business is to help people and change their lives for the better. That intent is our core purpose and integral to everything we do as a firm. We trace our origins to 1946 when Eric Attwood hung out his shingle in Coolangatta after World War 2 and believe the firm has always been an ethical and caring law firm – doing what is right for our clients. I’m very proud to continue the Attwood Marshall legacy and will celebrate 43 years with the firm in February next year. I look forward to kicking off another year of helping our clients and the community in 2024. For 2023, we say adieu!

Compensation Law – Jeremy RocheJeremy Roche

We are thrilled to share the remarkable journey of our Compensation Law department and the significant milestones achieved throughout the year. Our commitment to justice and dedication to our clients has propelled us forward, making 2023 a year of extraordinary success.

Due to our expertise in serious and catastrophic injury claims, our team achieved many outstanding outcomes for our deserving clients and their families, in many cases resulting in compensation that surpassed the $1 million mark. These victories underscore our proficiency and steadfast advocacy for those we proudly represent.

To better serve our expanding clientele, we are excited to announce the addition of two new team members in January 2024.

In addition to our legal work this past year, our lawyers have also actively taken part in radio segments, legal podcasts, seminars, and networking events. From business lunches and golf days to charity events and football matches, we seized every opportunity to connect with the community and support causes close to our hearts.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our business and referral partners for their trust in our ability to deliver exceptional service. Special thanks also go to the treatment providers and medico-legal assessors who played a crucial role in supporting our clients throughout their claims this year.

As we draw the curtain on a successful 2023, we are energised by our continued growth, expanding service areas, increasing referral sources and recruiting additional staff. We are ready to support those who are facing difficult times in 2024. 

Wills & Estates – Angela Harry

This past year, the Wills and Estates department made a real difference in our community. We’re proud to share that we organized and participated in over 12 charity Wills days, helping people plan their estates while raising money for important causes, including The Salvation Army, Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service, and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, to name a few.

Our department has also experienced a notable surge in demand for our estate planning and administration expertise. This uptick is not only attributed to our longstanding partnerships with financial advisors, accountants, and our client base but also to the increasing referrals by fellow lawyers, particularly in complex estate administration matters. Notably, our department has achieved significant success in navigating complex probate cases, including some published decisions in the Supreme Court.

In addition to our community involvement and expanding client base, our Wills and Estates department has adeptly navigated the evolving landscape of legal technology. In 2021, the Supreme Court of Queensland launched ‘Objective Connect’, an online platform/portal allowing practitioners to file probate online. This year, the New South Wales Supreme Court implemented its new online probate system, which posed a significant challenge for many. However, our previous experience in Queensland and our firm’s technology-focused approach enabled us to adapt to these changes seamlessly.  

One of the most rewarding aspects of the past year has been the consistent stream of positive feedback from our clients. We take immense pride in our work addressing legal matters and positively impacting the lives of those for whom we act.

As we move forward, we remain dedicated to maintaining this high standard of client care, ensuring that our legal expertise continues to make a tangible, positive difference to our clients. 

We look forward to building upon our achievements and embracing new opportunities in the ever-evolving field of Wills and Estates. Our commitment to excellence, community engagement, and technological innovation continues, setting the stage for continued success and growth in the coming year.

Estate Litigation – Lucy McPherson

We have had an extremely exciting year in estate litigation at Attwood Marshall with continued growth in the department. We enlisted three new members to our team including our litigation paralegal extraordinaire, Amber Roebeck who comes with many years’ experience in the area of contested estates, our newest estate litigation lawyer, Lily Prasad who joins us with solid foundational experience in Wills and Estates and Danielle Moore a law student and rising star in the department. Amber, Lily and Danielle continue to add value to our team.

The year was marked by growth in the area of guardianship and administration matters, Public Trustee disputes and continued recognition of our expertise in the area of complex cross-border contentious estates. We continue to be recognised as experts in these growing areas which is demonstrated by the ongoing referrals that we receive from a plethora of professionals including barristers and solicitors who will often refer the more complicated estate litigation work to our knowledgeable team.

This year we also had the pleasure of speaking at numerous public and industry engagements. Martin Mallon was invited to speak before Succession Law students at Bond University which was a wonderful success and Lucy McPherson presented before other lawyers at multiple legal continuing professional development (CPD) seminars for industry bodies.

Our Senior Associate, April Kennedy celebrated her 15 year anniversary with the firm this year – no small feat indeed. We are extremely lucky to have April in our ranks.

We continue to go from strength to strength in estate litigation. We look forward to continuing to help our clients with their complex legal needs in the new year.

Litigation & Dispute Resolution – Charles LethbridgeCharles Lethbridge

A dedicated commitment to innovation, strategic thinking, and the invaluable synergy of our team has rooted our team’s success in 2023.

At Attwood Marshall Lawyers, our ability to identify and seize opportunities, even in challenging economic climates, is a testament to our forward thinking and adaptive modus-operandi.

With the litigation landscape constantly changing and moving away from contested trials and shifting towards alternative dispute resolution at mediation, more responsibility has been placed on lawyers to alleviate the burden on the court system. The role of a litigation/dispute resolution lawyer is becoming increasingly important in society.

The department has proven its metal throughout the past year, emerging as a standout performer in the industry. One of the key drivers behind our success lies in its strategic approach to case management. The team demonstrated an unparalleled ability to identify key issues, develop effective strategies and navigate the intricacies of commercial disputes.

This strategic mindset not only streamlined the litigation process but also contributed to the department’s consistently impressive success rate for clients at both mediations and trials, including some significant victories at several appeal hearings this year.

The department looks forward to recharging over the holiday period and hitting the ground running in 2024, building upon the strong foundation laid in 2023.

Family Law – Hayley CondonHayley Condon

Over the past 12 months, our family law clients have faced difficulties and struggles when moving through the painful process of family separation and the uncertainty that lies ahead. While this phase is inherently stressful and difficult to grasp unless you have experienced it personally, our team consider it a privilege to provide guidance, support, and dedication, helping our clients navigate the complexities of the law and reach resolutions.

Receiving positive feedback from our clients about how we helped them move forward from their tumultuous experience is humbling. However, the driving force behind our team’s choice to practice family law is the satisfaction derived from delivering effective legal services and being a strong advocate for those navigating relationship breakdowns.

Despite the gratification in assisting our clients, it remains disheartening to witness the prevalence and impact of domestic and family violence in our community. Our team is dedicated to advocating for change in this realm, actively encouraging government action to enhance processes and improve access to justice and support for victims of violence.

In the upcoming year, our team is set to embark on an exciting expansion into a niche area of family law. Details will be revealed in our formal announcement early next year.

As we look forward to recharging over Christmas, we want to take this opportunity to extend warm wishes to our clients, both past and present, as well as our valued referral partners. May your Christmas be safe and joyous, and 2024 be a prosperous new year. For those facing separation, our team stands ready to assist in the coming year.

Property & Commercial – Barry van HeerdenBarry van Heerden

Despite the prevailing doom and gloom broadcast in the media, the property market was much stronger in 2023 than in previous years. Our department was extremely productive, working around the clock to attend to all matters.

This year, it was interesting to witness the substantial increase in the sale and purchase of commercial properties. The demand was so high that we welcomed two new members to the team to assist the current lawyers in the department: Bronwyn Scofield, a skilled commercial lawyer, and Taylah Lein, an experienced paralegal.

While acknowledging our achievements in the commercial space, we are equally proud of assisting a record number of first-home buyers in realising their dream of homeownership. Guiding these buyers through their first property transactions has been a fulfilling experience, marking the beginning of their property journey.

Our year was marked by not only helping first home buyers but also acting in significant commercial property transactions, some of which exceeded the $10 million mark.

It was a very productive and satisfying year, with the prospects of 2024 looking even more promising.

Aged Care – Debbie SageDebbie Sage

What a great year it has been for the aged care department. One of the most exciting highlights was the return of Larisa Kapur from maternity leave. Her presence and expertise have been greatly missed, and we are thrilled to have her back on deck. Larisa’s return has brought renewed energy and enthusiasm to our department, and our clients have also been very excited to have her back.

With Larisa also receiving her accreditation as an Accredited Aged Care Professional with Aged Care Steps, we now have two accredited professionals in our department. This accomplishment highlights our commitment to providing the highest quality advice and service when people are transitioning to aged care.

As we confront the challenges posed by an aging population and witness a growing demand for aged care advice, we take pride in expanding our team and resources to serve the needs of our local community better.

This year, I seized the opportunity to advocate for issues close to my heart at the 2023 LNP Convention held at the Royal International Convention Centre (RNA Showgrounds) in Brisbane.

At Attwood Marshall Lawyers, we are passionate advocates for the rights of older Australians and we will continue to call for a review of the legislation and structures around exit fees in retirement villages and elder abuse.

We look forward to working with members of parliament in 2024 to drive change around how and when operators charge fees, and other critical issues that impact the elderly.

Lastly, we have some exciting news to share early in the new year. Stay tuned for further updates, and be ready for an exciting start to 2024!

As we reflect on the year gone by, we are grateful for the achievements, growth, and milestones that our department has experienced. We look forward to the opportunities ahead and continuing to support the community.

Practice Management – Holly GilholmeHolly Gilholme

For another year, we are proud to announce the retention of our ISO Certification in Quality Management Systems (9001:2015). Rigorous audits were undertaken this year to ensure that we consistently meet and exceed our client service expectations. During this year’s audits, it was heart-warming to learn that our clients bestowed us with an outstanding 94% excellence rating. This is a tremendous achievement, and I want to acknowledge our staff and management team who are the driving force behind our policies and procedures and contribute to our clients’ high satisfaction levels.

This year, we welcomed many new members to the business. Hours of dedication was devoted to equip our new staff with the essential tools and training needed for success in their roles. Fostering a sense of connection in the workplace, we have facilitated training sessions led by our seasoned leaders and external providers. Our commitment to professional and personal development continues to be the cornerstone of our approach, creating an environment of continuous learning and support for our team.

In September, I was privileged to attend the inaugural Australian Legal Practice Management Summit in Melbourne. The summit focussed on cyber security, staff and recruitment, people culture, and new technologies, giving invaluable insights that will shape our approach to the ever-evolving legal landscape.

The legal industry has witnessed an unprecedented emphasis on cyber security, and our firm places the utmost importance on this critical issue.

We have consistently implemented the tools necessary to safeguard our client’s data. Our vigilance in monitoring developments in this space ensures that we remain updated with evolving threats and risks, putting us in a solid position to navigate these challenges in 2024 and beyond.

Media & Marketing – Melissa SummergreeneMelissa Summergreene

In a rapidly evolving digital world, this year we have recognized and embraced the changing dynamics of the online space and how people seek information, particularly with advancements in generative AI, which exploded in 2023. Our adapted strategies ensure we continue to effectively reach our audience, while leveraging off new technologies.

This year, we were excited to expand our team, welcoming two new members, former journalist and PR specialist Paige Morrison, who joined the firm after returning to Australia from London, England, and digital design specialist Samantha Winn, who moved back to the Gold Coast from Sydney later this year. Their contributions, combined with the efforts of our lawyers and management team, have been instrumental in propelling the firm forward.

As a firm we invest considerable time in engaging with the community, going beyond traditional media and marketing channels. For example, our lawyers continued to address local issues via weekly radio segments on community radio station 4CRB, providing valuable insights and fostering an informed community. Our collaboration with aged care provider Feros Care also continued this year, with our lawyers hosting monthly “Ask a Lawyer” sessions in their Virtual Social Centre.

The wonderful feedback we receive from these programs reinforces the positive impact we make on individuals seeking legal guidance and greater knowledge.

This year, the firm also earned recognition at industry, community, and media awards. We proudly secured the Gold Coast Business Excellence Award for Professional Services in May. We were also honoured to be named one of the best law firms to work for in Australia, earning a spot on the 5-Star Employer of Choice List by Australasian Lawyer.

We’ve also published over 150 insightful blogs from our team of expert lawyers this year. I invite you to explore our website, which is updated weekly and contains the latest legal news on topics vital to the community.

Looking ahead to 2024, we anticipate further advancements in our online systems as we explore innovative avenues to deliver informative, educational content and an even more seamless customer experience. Watch this space for what’s to come!

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Jeff Garrett - Legal Practice Director - Wills & Estates, Estate Litigation, Property & Commercial, Compensation Law, Commercial Litigation, Criminal Law, Racing & Equine Law

Jeff Garrett

Legal Practice Director
Wills & Estates, Estate Litigation, Property & Commercial, Compensation Law, Commercial Litigation, Criminal Law, Racing & Equine Law

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The contents of this article are considered accurate as at the date of publication. The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and is of a general nature only. Readers should seek legal advice about their specific circumstances. 

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