Cover Story

Elringtons; Canberra’s centenary law firm

B2B Editor4 July 2013

As Canberra celebrates 100 years, elringtons is one of the few local law firms that can lay claim to have travelled alongside Canberra in its 100 year journey towards the vibrant and exciting city that it is today.

In various iterations it has helped the communities of Queanbeyan, Yass and now Canberra since 1897.

“This history and longevity is a source of pride for the elringtons team who work together today to deliver to Canberrans what their predecessors 100 years ago also strived to provide – solid, legal advice and assistance in a range of fields,” Matthew Bridger, elringtons Managing Partner, said.

Canberra’s community has been treated with plenty of history in this its centenary year.

“In looking back at elringtons’ foundations 100 years ago from the creation of the Australian Capital Territory, the implementation of Burley Griffin’s master plan, the laying of the city’s foundation stone to the building and creation of the city’s landmarks, many of us wonder about where the people came from to put the city together, what they worked on and whether they are still connected with us in some way today.”

One group of professionals that contributed to the building of the city and serving its community to the present day is elringtons law firm. Its founder was Frederick Woodward, who, in addition to running a busy law practice in Queanbeyan as Canberra’s staging post, was also elected as Queanbeyan’s mayor in 1913. Woodward ran a busy practice from an office in Queanbeyan during the major construction program of creating Canberra. With the establishment of a public service for the Federal Government in the ACT there was an influx of a new and permanent population which kept Woodward and other local solicitors busy

in servicing the legal needs of the new city. Woodward went on to become a founding member and the first President of the ACT Law Society.

After Woodward’s passing, Edwin “Rex” Boardman succeeded to lead the legal practice in Canberra and Queanbeyan and later in Yass from where the firm takes its present name. Over the years, these senior solicitors have gained and passed on their legal knowledge and wisdom to the next generation of lawyers serving Canberra and its surrounding region.

It continues to pass on from the old to the new maintaining an unbroken chain of knowledge and wisdom to the next generation of lawyers who will serve this community.

Serving Canberra’s energy

Canberrans travelling to Sydney may look at the iconic wind farming propellers with a sense of awe at the relationship between Mother Nature and mankind to service our clean

energy requirements.

But little thought is given to the complex legal framework that underpins these arrangements.

Elringtons is privileged to have David Walters as a leader in its property team. David has practised law for over 40 years and was a partner at elringtons for nearly all of that time. He is a NSW Accredited Property Law specialist, and has built a niche practice in managing the relationship between wind farming companies and land owning farmers in the wider Canberra region.

His colleague, Cassandra Emmett, is familiar with the concept of brokering legal agreements between farmers and the big end of town to install infrastructure on grazing or pastoral properties. Cassandra recently worked as a lawyer on the National Broadband Network installation, across farms and aboriginal land, in the Northern Territory.

“Working with David on the wind farm negotiations is a challenging and exciting prospect. These land sharing arrangements go for long periods of time, twenty to thirty years, and must contemplate all scenarios and outcomes so that farmers are not at a disadvantage,” Cassandra said.

Cassandra is fortunate to have David guide her through the intricacies of NSW land law and his experience in wind farm negotiations, and to continue the strong relationship between

elringtons and NSW farmers that has been established over the last century.

Serving Canberra’s businesses

Cassandra Emmett is also working with younger professionals and fosters them in the areas of property and business law. Shalini Sree is one of elringtons’ lawyers benefiting from Cassandra’s experience. Shalini Sree was admitted as a lawyer in December 2012 and whilst studying for her Masters, works with Cassandra in the elringtons Business Services team. She joined elringtons last year already with property law experience looking to branch out into more complex commercial and business work

“Shalini is amazing, extremely enthusiastic, and always looking for the best outcome for her clients,” Cassandra said.

Serving Canberra’s property

Peter Murphy has over forty years experience as a lawyer in Canberra and has been a mentor to many at elringtons for the past 15 years. He has close ties to regional Councils and is a trusted commercial and property law advisor to local Councils, national organisations and businesses. Peter’s junior colleague Darren Carden also brings local government experience to elringtons, having worked at a large local council in Adelaide. Darren moved to Canberra to broaden his property law experience and is keen to draw on Peter’s decades of wisdom.

“Traditionally in law, the old teach and guide the young – in Peter and Darren’s case, wisdom and experiences are shared. Elringtons are living and breathing this tradition by fostering partnerships of old and new,” Matthew Bridger, elringtons Managing Partner, said proudly.

Serving Canberra’s conveyancing

One team member who doesn’t need his hand held is experienced conveyancer Dan Kelly who heads up elrington’s Conveyancing team. Daniel has practiced in conveyancing for over 10 years and knows the ACT and NSW residential property jurisdictions inside out. He prides himself on providing silver service. Tanya Corneliusen works alongside Daniel having worked in the elringtons conveyancing team for as long as Daniel. She is calm and capable and clients know their property is safe in her hands. With Daniel, Tanya and their team it’s no stress and experienced property lawyers are on hand to complement their knowledge if something out of the ordinary arises.

Serving Canberra’s people

The way Canberran’s have had to resolve their civil disputes has changed considerably over the years with government, at all levels drafting legislation to set out the rules as to how disputes should be managed and resolved. Elrington’s lawyers have been conducting cases

in Canberra and its associated Federal and High Courts since the city was founded. They have moved with the times to find ways to resolve their clients’ interests in personal injury, compensation law, civil and commercial disputes.

Craig Painter has been practicing law for over a decade and manages the elringtons Dispute Resolution Team. Craig has a background as a teacher and it is his knowledge and experience that has allowed him to mentor many practitioners and students.

The youngest lawyer in the team is Will Atfield. Will was admitted to practice law 12 months ago but has been working at elringtons for almost three years. In addition to studying for his Masters, he has already conducted several personal injury and compensation cases and appears regularly in Canberra’s courts. Under Craig’s guiding hand, Will is fast developing the understanding that many legal problems often need a practical, commonsense approach. “Will was raised in regional NSW just outside of Canberra and his dealing with clients reflect his country values – values that we at elringtons strive to deliver on a daily basis.” Craig said.


Matthew Bridger has been practicing as a litigator with elringtons for 21 years and is now the managing partner. When he started with elringtons, his mentor was the former litigation partner of the firm, Jonathan Bell.

“I learned from Jonathan that you develop expertise from experience particularly when it comes to going to Court and that acquired experience will show you that there is always more than one way to resolve a dispute between two warring parties,” Matthew explained.

Matthew spent plenty of time in Court and found that Jonathan was right. In addition to becoming an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law, Matthew developed expertise in will drafting, estate administration and estate litigation.

Given its century long involvement with the city, elringtons has acted for tens of thousands of Canberrans and others in the surrounding region in their estates.

“With the development of enforced saving through compulsory superannuation, the rise and rise of property prices, de facto relationships, same sex unions or second marriages, plus the Canberra community generally being more sophisticated in its business dealings, estates have become increasingly large, valuable and complex,” Matthew stated.

Kerin Cotchett, who has been with elringtons for over two years, is tapping into Matthew’s experience and wisdom. Kerin works alongside Matthew in assisting clients administer estates and advising on estate claims. Kerin brings his own ‘wisdom’ of generation Y in providing clients with advice on dealing with estates.

“Kerin’s refreshing views, as a member of the younger generation of lawyers on dealing with families who have lost a loved one, or on how to mediate between disputing parties, has resulted in many clients specifically asking for Kerin to find a quick and cost effective resolution to their claims,” Matthew said.

Kerin is aware of the need to get estates administered as quickly as possible and he has now reached a point in his acquired experience where he can get grants for the administration of estates in the ACT and NSW in record time. He continues to work alongside Matthew

in the contentious estates acting for executors defending claims and beneficiaries who, through no fault of their own, have been unfairly dealt with.

Elringtons offers the next generation of lawyers to stand by Canberra as it comes of age.

Serving Canberra’s family law and immigration clients

The Elringtons Family Law Team is headed by Kevin Robinson and Carlos Turini (Partner).

Carlos Turini has been practicing as a solicitor for 28 years and combines two passions in his practice, namely: family law and migration law. He has been a family lawyer since 1988 and is an Accredited Specialist in Family Law.

Kevin has over 20 years experience in legal services. Prior to joining private practice, he was Acting Deputy Protective Commissioner and Director Client Services with the New South Wales Attorney General’s Department.

Two other solicitors, Kirsty McLeod and Leroy Dickson, make up the team of experts in family law.

Kevin and Carlos work closely with each other and with the younger practitioners, Kirsty and Leroy as a tight, efficient group on different aspects of files to provide maximum service.

The vast majority of family law disputes settle without going to court which is the desire of most clients. The elringtons team recognise their clients’ needs and attempt to resolve disputes amicably without compromising strong advocacy in those cases which must be litigated.

In addition to his family law expertise, Carlos is a Registered Migration Agent (MARN 001381) with the Migration Agents Authority.

Carlos works closely in all migration matters with Nanae Yoshiwara, solicitor, who is also a Registered Migration Agent (MARN 0964316). Nanae combines her practice in migration law with a practice in the litigation team (commercial and personal injuries litigation). Nanae has been practicing as a solicitor for seven years.

“Migration law is a complex area. There are hundreds of visa categories and sub categories, each with detailed, prescriptive legal and policy requirements. The visa requirements are constantly changing for numerous reasons including adjusting the entry of migrants to the needs of Australia at any particular time,” Carlos said.

Carlos and Nanae work closely in all migration matters and combine and complement their knowledge and experience in migration law and their separate areas of expertise to represent their clients.