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Slater and Gordon congratulates three employees who have been named as finalists in this year’s Lawyer’s Weekly Australian Law Awards.

Western Australian Practice Group Leader Karina Hafford is in contention for Partner of the Year, Ballarat Senior Associate Sue Emery will vie for Regional/Suburban Lawyer of the Year while National Manager of Social Work Services Olga Gountras will compete for Legal Support Professional of the Year.

Award winners will be announced at a ceremony in Sydney on Friday 31 August.

Ms Hafford – who has been with Slater and Gordon since 2011, focusing on medical law and catastrophic claims – has helped her clients receive more than $30 million during the 2017-18 financial year.

As one of the firm’s leaders in Western Australia, Ms Hafford is known for taking on challenging and complex cases including a matter involving a mother who unfortunately went blind after suffering an infection while giving birth to her 10th child.

She is passionate about developing young lawyers, mentoring countless law clerks and junior lawyers and has been a member for the Law Society of Western Australia Personal Injury and Workers Compensation Committee for almost two decades.

Ballarat born and bred Ms Emery, who specialises in motor vehicle accident and workers compensation claims, has been with Slater and Gordon for more than eight years. Her dedication to her job has been proved in her passion for her clients, frequently travelling across regional Victoria to meet with them.

She has also been crucial in the development of young lawyers while managing the firm’s Ballarat office. During the 2017-18 year she delivered six figure settlements to 26 regional Victorian clients, including more than half a million dollars for a cyclist who was injured on her way to work.

Ms Gountras joined Slater and Gordon almost 10 years ago, becoming the first social worker in a private law firm in Australia. Since then she has developed a national team of four social workers based in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, providing free assistance to the firm’s clients, regardless of their location.

Each day, Ms Gountras and her team address client concerns, including the emotional and practical issues that arise when someone becomes seriously injured or ill, such as financial distress, suicidal ideation and access to services and housing.

She has pioneered strategies to raise social workers’ awareness and understanding of legal issues, demystifying the law and making it more accessible. One way this has been done is through the development of a national legal education program, which has been accredited by the Australian Association of Social Workers.

Slater and Gordon CEO John Somerville congratulated the three nominees, highlighting their passion and commitment to the firm’s clients. He said their nominations were also a reflection on their respective teams and colleagues who played an important role in achieving the best possible outcome.

“Congratulations to Karina, Sue and Olga, the whole firm will be behind you on August 31,” Mr Somerville said.

“Their nominations are a testament to the values of everyone at Slater and Gordon who go to work focused on delivering our clients the best possible result.”


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