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Local Coffs lawyer wins Australia's top family law graduation prize

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Media Release

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Coffs Harbour family law lawyer, Charmaine Tanner, has won one of Australia’s most prestigious legal awards for graduating top of her masters class from the NSW College of Law.

Ms Tanner has been awarded the Sandra Paul Memorial Prize for Best Graduating Student in the NSW College of Law Master of Applied Law Family Law course.

The award, which recognises dedicated and passionate lawyers who lift the practice of family law to levels of excellence, is presented each semester by the NSW College of Law.

Approximately 200 students from across Australia enrol in the Family Law Masters course at the College each semester.

Ms Tanner said she was overwhelmed by the award. “Winning this award is an honour and something that I am truly proud of,” Ms Tanner said.

“Since becoming a lawyer in 2005 I have worked hard to help people deal with the emotional and difficult experience of going through a family breakdown.

“There is always more to be learnt in this area of the law but graduating from my masters and winning this award will help as I work with people during a very difficult time in their lives.”

The award was presented to Ms Tanner by Chief Judge in Equity of the NSW Supreme Court, Her Honour Patricia Bergin, at the graduation ceremony at The College of Law in Sydney last week (Tuesday 17th May 2011).

One of Ms Tanner’s sisters, Suzanne West, and 89 year-old mother, Mrs Joan Day, also attended the graduation.

Ms Heather McKinnon, Family Law Practice Group Leader in Coffs Harbour, said the award is a great tribute to Ms Tanner’s dedication and hard work.

“Charmaine has only been a lawyer for six years but in that time she has developed a unique and expert understanding of family law.

“She brings to cases the understanding and support that is absolutely necessary to help families in distress and going through a relationship breakdown.”

Ms Tanner joined Slater and Gordon Coffs Harbour in 2008 after graduating from University of New England in 2004.

She is currently Chair of the Coffs Harbour Family Law Practitioner’s Association.