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2019 Start at the Top Family Law Conference

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The Law Society Northern Territory was delighted to once again be hosting its annual Start at the Top Family Law Conference. With the family law system and the role of family lawyers under intense scrutiny at a national level it is ever important for family law practitioners to keep honing their knowledge and skill in this difficult area of legal practice. This year’s two-day conference offered our local Territory practitioners that opportunity but also welcomed colleagues from around Australia.

Acknowledgements The Society would like to thank the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court for their continued generous support of this conference. 

The unwavering support and commitment of Judge Peter Cole must be acknowledged along with other members of the Courts who have agreed to present and
participate in the conference.

Members of the Society’s Family Law Committee have been invaluable with their contribution to the development of the conference program (Tessa Czislowski, Eileen Terrill, Jaquie Palavra, Stuart Barr, Julie Franz, Ruth Morley, Michelle Alleman, Jessica Wynd, Aditi Srinivas, Aniko Papp and Caroline Lewis).

Sponsors The Society gratefully acknowledges the support of legalsuper, sponsor of the Society’s 2019 CPD program, and the following session sponsors for this
year’s conference; Dawrin Family Law, Greenstone Legal, John Toohey Chambers, Kerr Fels Divorce & Family Lawyers, Kim Wilson & Co Family Lawyers, Leach Legal Divorce & Family Lawyers, Robyn McKenzie Solicitor, Our Family Wizard, Ward Keller. 


  • Judge Peter Cole OAM

    Judge Peter Cole OAM

    Judge Peter Cole graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Jurisprudence and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Western Australia. He was articled to David Malcolm QC, (later the Chief Justice of WA), worked with Legal Aid in WA, then Stone James, followed by twelve years at Slee Anderson and Pidgeon, where he became a partner.

    In 2000 he left the partnership to spend a year travelling with his wife, Susan. On his return to Australia he worked with firms in Queensland (Mackay and Gold Coast), before returning to WA in 2003 to work with Kim Wilson & Associates, and Robert Parkinson & Associates.

    He was President of the Family Law Practitioners’ Association in Western Australia from 2006–08. Judge Cole has lectured part-time at the Edith Cowan University and in programs run by Relationships Australia. He has been an accredited family law specialist since 1992. A firm believer in continuing legal education, he has organised and initiated many conferences for family lawyers.

    He is the initiating and continuing Chairman of the Bali Family Law Conference, a position he has held since 1999. He was appointed as a Federal Magistrate to Adelaide in 2008 in the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia. In 2013 he became a Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia based in Adelaide.

    In 2018 Judge Cole was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division (OAM) in recognition of their tireless work in the establishment and coordination of two not-for-profit family law conferences, held in Indonesia and Darwin for the legal profession.

    As part of that court he currently serves as a member of the courts education committee and as the Chair of the National Children’s Committee for the Family Law.

  • The Hon Justice Robert Benjamin

    The Hon Justice Robert Benjamin

    The Hon Justice Robert Benjamin has been a Judge of the Family Court of Australia since August 2005 and is a Presidential Member of the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

    He has a deep interest in legal education. He has been a director and later Chair of the College of Law and currently serves on its Academic Board. He is involved in legal training through the University of Tasmania and the Tasmanian legal practice course. At one time he chaired the Education Committee of the Family Court was a member of the organising committee for the Judges Orientation Course operated under the auspices of the National Judicial College.

    Prior to appointment, Justice Benjamin practiced at a private profession for thirty years, almost exclusively in family law. He has a strong background in mediation having studied alternative dispute resolution over many years including short courses at Bond University, Harvard University and having completed a Master Degree in Law (with a major in Dispute Resolution) at the University of Technology (Sydney).

    In 2003, Justice Benjamin was President of the Law Society New South Wales and in 2015 was made a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the judiciary and to the law, to legal education, mediation and arbitration and to professional standards.

  • The Hon Justice David Berman

    The Hon Justice David Berman

    • Bachelor of Law University of Adelaide 1977

    • Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice conferred 1980

    • 20 December 1980 admitted as a Legal Practitioner in the Supreme Court of South Australia and the High Court of Australia

    • February 1995 Bar Roll signed and commenced practice as a Barrister exclusively in the area of matrimonial law

    • 11 October 2010 appointed as Senior Counsel

    • July 2013 appointed as a Judge of the Family Court of Australia

    • Barrister practising from Campbell Chambers 1995 to 28 June 2013

    • Member of International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 9 October 2007 to current

    • Appointed as a member of the Board of Governors of the Burnside War Memorial Hospital 1985 to 2016

    • Member of Law Society of South Australia Family Law Committee 2006

    • Member of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia 1995 to current

    • Family Court representative to the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity

  • Judge Tony Young

    Judge Tony Young

    Judge Tony Young was appointed to the Federal Circuit Court in 2015 after practicing at the independent bar in Darwin for twenty-one years. Before that he worked as a solicitor with the NT Legal Aid Commission and the Northern Land Council.
  • Judge Janet Terry

    Judge Janet Terry

    Judge Janet Terry was a Barrister and solicitor in Darwin from 1977 until 2007 when she was appointed to the Federal Magistrates Court as the Northern Territory’s second Federal Magistrate. She sat in Darwin until July 2010 when she transferred to Newcastle and is now a Judge of the Federal Circuit Court.
  • The Hon Stephen Scarlett

    The Hon Stephen Scarlett

    Stephen Scarlett retired as a Judge of the Federal Circuit Court on 28 July 2016, having served in that Court and its predecessor, the Federal Magistrates Court, from 19 June 2000. Previously, he was a Magistrate of the Local Court of New South Wales from 7 November 1988 and the Senior Children’s Magistrate of the Children’s Court of NSW from 1995 until June 2000.

    He was a solicitor practising first in Sydney and then in Parkes NSW from 1971 until his appointment to the Local Court in November 1988.

    He commenced practice as a barrister on 1 July 2017 and is now at Edmund Barton Chambers in Sydney.

    Stephen Scarlett was accredited as a Mediator under the NMAS on 2 December 2016 and conducts mediations regularly.

    He has been accredited as an Arbitrator by AIFLAM since October 2018 and now conducts arbitrations regularly.

    He was appointed as a part-time Senior Member of NCAT, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, in August 2017.

    In 2015 Stephen Scarlett was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the Judiciary, to the law and to professional organisations.

  • Jade Lattimore

    Jade Lattimore

    Jade Lattimore is the founding director of Greenstone Legal which has offices in both West Perth and Joondalup, Western Australia. Jade’s primary areas of practice include commercial law with an emphasis on new technology focussed businesses, property and intellectual property law, acting on behalf of clients for a range of domestic and international transactions.

    Jade’s experience has seen her involved in a notably broad spectrum of legal matters that have lead industry innovation including amongst other things cryptocurrencies, app development, robo advice platforms, domain disputes, online trading communities, outbound investing, crowd funding and the PPSA.

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  • Denby Kerr

    Denby Kerr

    Denby Kerr is an Accredited Specialist and Director of Kerr Fels Divorce & Family Lawyers located in the Perth CBD. Prior to establishing Kerr Fels in 2017, Denby worked in a large boutique family law firm in Perth.

    She has experience in all areas of Family Law and takes a particular interest in complex financial matters involving varied asset structures. Denby appeared as Junior Counsel in Bevan & Bevan (No’s 1 & 2), and also for the Full Court appeal and then High Court special leave case of Singerson & Joans.

    She is a member of the Accreditation Committee of the Law Society of Western Australia and also sits on the Law Reform Sub-Committee of the Family Law Practitioners Association in Western Australia. Denby was recently rated by her colleagues as a Leading Family Lawyer in Western Australia in the Doyle’s Guide. Notwithstanding her resistance to stifling humidity, she loves Darwin and looks forward to the Start at the Top Conference each year.

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  • Vince Bradley

    Vince Bradley

    Vince Bradley is a Senior Associate at Leach Legal located in Perth, Western Australia. Vince completed his Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts at the University of Otago, New Zealand in 2007 before later completing a post graduate diploma in Law at Murdoch University in 2009. He was admitted as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of Western Australia and High Court of Australia in 2011. Since 2010 Vince has worked exclusively in Family Law.

    Vince provides tailored advice to his clients in relation to all areas of Family Law. He also has significant litigation experience in both property and child-related matters as well as experience in Full Court and Supreme Court appeals. This includes being the representative for the applicant in the Full Court Appeal case of Teo & Guan [2015].

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  • Hugh McPharlin

    Hugh McPharlin

    Hugh McPharlin is a partner in Nexia Edwards Marshall, a multidisciplinary accounting firm with offices in Darwin and Adelaide, and a recognized specialist in business valuation and financial investigation services in the family law context. Hugh specialises in the valuation of closely held companies and minority interests. Over the past twenty years, Hugh has valued more than 300 Australian businesses.

    Hugh has also been engaged in a significant number of litigation support assignments, primarily in connection with the assessment of damages and claims for economic loss arising from loss of a chance.

    Hugh’s evidence as an independent accounting expert has been accepted in the Federal Court of Australia, the Family Court of Australia, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the Supreme Courts of South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, the District Court of South Australia and the County Court of Victoria. He is a Fellow and Business Valuation Specialist of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. Hugh is a member of the Family Law Committee of the Law Society of South Australia and the national Business Valuation Committee of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

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  • Dr David Chapman

    Dr David Chapman

    Dr David Chapman is Consultant Psychiatrist with the Mental Health Access Team of the Top End Mental Health Service. He undertakes first assessments across the range of mental health presentations, which makes for an intellectually and emotionally challenging life; but a satisfying one.

    He is interested in reconciling the uniqueness of individual thought and feeling with underlying biological structures and processes, and the effects of environment on both. He enjoys the shared journey in psychotherapy, particularly when combining medication and mindfulness with the psychodynamics of development into an adult.

    David takes a wholistic approach to treatment, incorporating the psychological with the biological, including the brain, gut, immune system as well as physical disease. “Descartes got it wrong” might be a personal mantra. A teacher in a former life, he enjoys the drama of teaching and seeing the light of understanding appear in another’s eyes.

  • Teresa Farmer

    Teresa Farmer

    Teresa Farmer was employed at Paterson & Dowding from 1997 to 2007. In 1999 Teresa undertook five year Articles with the firm – gaining admission to legal practice in 2003. Teresa became an Associate of Paterson & Dowding in 2004.

    In June 2007 Teresa commenced practice as barrister at John Toohey Chambers principally in the areas of Family Law and De Facto matters and related Appeal work. Teresa also chairs mediation-style conferences in family law.

    Teresa was the President of the Family Law Practitioners’ Association of WA (Inc) for three years between 2012 and 2015 and is a former member of the Western Australian Amateur Football League Tribunal. She is a member of the West Australian Bar Association, the Family Law Practitioners’ Association, the Women Lawyers’ Association of WA and the Family Law Section of Law Council.

    Teresa is also a member of the Domestic & Family Violence Taskforce of the Law Council of Australia. In 2016 Teresa was awarded the Women Lawyer of the Year Award for Western Australia.

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  • Laura De Maio

    Laura joined John Toohey Chambers as a Barrister in September 2018 following an appointment as an acting Magistrate and Registrar of the Family Court of Western Australia (2010 to 2017).

    Laura received a Bachelor of Laws from UWA and was admitted to practice in February 1994, the same year the Fremantle Dockers Football Club commenced.

    Laura has practised primarily in the field of family law since she was admitted to practice in February 1994. She has been a Case Manager and Legal Officer with the National Native Title Tribunal (2002 – 2004) and acted as Counsel Assisting the State’s Coroners (1998 – 2000).

    Laura is a nationally accredited Mediator with AIFLAM and provides services as Mediator. Laura is also a qualified Independent Children’s Lawyer and Separate Representative and maintains that practise in Family Court proceedings and Care and Protection Proceedings in the Children’s Court.

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  • James Linklater-Steele

    James Linklater-Steele

    James Linklater-Steele commenced practice at the private Bar in Queensland 1993. For the first seven years of practice he had a general practice appearing in a variety of state and federal courts and tribunals.

    Over the past eighteen years his practice has evolved into a family law specialty practice and in the associated jurisdictions in regard to domestic violence and child protection proceedings. As well as party work, he regularly appears as counsel for the Independent Children’s Lawyers throughout the State. He has a sub-specialty area in relation to Hague applications and is regularly retained in complex matters particularly in the Magellan list. He holds the record presently for the longest children’s trial in Queensland, a Magellan matter which lasted fifty days.

    He has presented several papers for Lexis Nexis on a variety of topics. He is a regular seminar presenter in relation to matters touching on court craft, evidence and advocacy including as a trainer in advocacy workshops particularly in relation to cross examination, such as Justice Murphy’s ‘Barristers and Psychiatrists’ two-day Advocacy Workshop.

    He has presented a number of seminars on witness preparation and is conjunction with the women’s legal service providing training on ‘giving evidence’ to a variety of community support and government counselling organisations.

    Consistently rated as taller and wider than Truman and more cuddlier than Farmer in Doyle’s Guide each year.

  • Kris Norrington

    Kris Norrington

    Kris Norrington is a born and bred Territorian with a passion for Family Law. After being admitted to practice in 2004 he has worked primarily as a family lawyer in Darwin throughout his legal career. His career started at the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission and then he spent 7 years running the Darwin office of DS Family Law. Kris has recently been appointed as a Judicial Registrar of the Northern Territory Local Court to run a Family Law Pilot for the next 18 months.
  • Paula Wilkinson

    Paula Wilkinson

    Paula is a founding Director of Kim Wilson & Co established 9 March 1998, and is an Accredited Family Law Specialist with a Masters of Applied Family Law.

    Paula is rated by Doyle’s Guide as one of the Preeminent Leading Family and Divorce Lawyers in Western Australia, 2018. She has also been recognised by Doyle’s Guide as a recommended Leading Family and Divorce Lawyer Australia, 2019.

    In 2018, Paula has also been recognised by Doyle's Guide for Western Australia as a recommended Parenting, Custody and Children's Matters Lawyers.

    Paula was elected to the Council of the Law Society of Western Australia for a two year term commencing 2017 and a further two year term commencing in 2019 and was invited to join the Executive of the Law Society in October 2018 Paula is a member of the Law Society Professional Indemnity Insurance Management Committee, the Law Society Accreditation Committee and a member of the Law Access Board of WA.

    For five years Paula was adjunct lecturer teaching for the NSW College of Law teaching part of the LL.M offered in Western Australia including FLP2 (Property Maintenance & Child Support) and FLP12 (Advanced Issues in Property Maintenance & Child Support) and FLP3 (Conducting Family Law matters).

    Paula gives presentation and webinars including speaking at the Law on the Lounge conference (Bali) guest lectures to students in the Advanced Family Law program (University of Western Australia) the Tax Institute, and at Perth Legalwise Seminars and the Family Law Practitioner’s Association of WA.

    Paula is a member of the WA Law Society Mentoring Program and the Women in the Law Mentoring Scheme which is run by the Law Students' Society at the University of Western Australia.

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Last modified: 25/02/2019 12:53 PM

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