Australia: Cooper Grace Ward announces seven promotions
Last Updated: 13 July 2018


Cooper Grace Ward (CGW) is pleased to announce seven promotions, effective 1 July 2018. Four senior associates have been promoted to special counsel – Laura Gahan, Leanne O'Neill, Kara Thomson and Leanne Weekes. In addition, Vanessa Thompson has been promoted to senior associate, and lawyers Kathryn O'Hare and Nicole Smith have been promoted to associate.

Six of these promotions are within the firm's property, planning and environment team, heralding the start of a new phase of growth and development for the practice. The firm is also pleased that all seven of this year's promotions are women, aligning with the firm's commitment to equity and diversity.

Special counsel Laura Gahan is a commercial and rural property lawyer with 15 years' experience across a wide range of real estate transactions. Laura's experience includes advising on commercial and industrial property purchases and disposals, complex rural land and multi-tiered agribusiness transactions, as well as commercial, industrial and retail leasing and redevelopment. She has extensive experience partnering with clients in managing their property portfolios. Laura is a passionate property law advocate as a member of the Property Council of Australia, Retail Committee and through her ongoing involvement with the Faculty of Law at Queensland University of Technology.

As special counsel in the property, planning and environment team, Leanne O'Neill has more than 19 years' experience, including nine years as a solicitor representing the State of Queensland in negotiations and litigation. Leanne advises on land access and tenure management, planning and development approvals and appeals, compulsory acquisition and valuation law, environmental compliance, remediation and offsets, vegetation and water management, native title and cultural heritage, and petroleum and mineral resources compliance. She is a member of the Queensland Law Society Mining and Resources Committee and regularly advises private clients, State Government and statutory/government owned corporations.

Kara Thomson is a special counsel in the insurance team with more than 10 years' experience in both litigation and personal injuries. Kara is a Queensland Law Society Accredited Specialist in personal injuries law, with a special interest in workers' compensation claims, pure psychological injury claims, and claims involving multiple parties across various personal injuries regimes in Queensland. She has a wealth of experience advising on insurance matters and all levels of workers' compensation, including advising on statutory entitlement issues, claims investigation and appeals work, through to common law litigation.

Special counsel Leanne Weekes specialises in advising developers and government entities across the spectrum of property development related matters. She has extensive experience in planning and environment legislation and compliance, acquisition and disposal of large development sites, infrastructure requirements for developments, environmental legislation, master planned communities, commercial and mixed-use developments. Leanne has a special interest in environmentally sustainable communities and as a board member of the Urban Development Institute of Australia's (Queensland) EnviroDevelopment chapter is involved in certifying and promoting sustainable developments.

Senior associate Vanessa Thompson has 11 years' experience in planning, environment and related land use matters. Vanessa's extensive experience includes advising developers, local authorities, banks and receivers on a broad range of town planning matters, compulsory acquisition, environmental licensing and offences, contamination, remediation and land valuation.

Associate Kathryn O'Hare has experience across planning, local government, infrastructure and environmental law. Kathryn's experience includes advising on Planning and Environment Court appeals as well as compulsory acquisition, environmental licensing and offences, land valuation, cultural heritage, and petroleum and resource matters.

Nicole Smith is now an associate in the firm's property, planning and environment team, with broad property law expertise covering acquisition and disposal of development sites, residential and commercial land sales, contract management, master-planned communities, and commercial and mixed-use developments.

Managing Partner Chris Ward praised the newly promoted team members for their achievements and contribution to the firm.

"All seven of these promotions are very well deserved and reflect the significant contribution and dedication that each member of the team has made to Cooper Grace Ward. I look forward to the on-going contribution that each of them will make in their new roles as senior team members and future leaders within the firm," he said.


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