Wheatvale-born solicitor Annette Bradfield at work in her role as Queensland Law Society president.
Wheatvale-born solicitor Annette Bradfield at work in her role as Queensland Law Society president. Contributed

Law body’s chief ever mindful of rural folk

ANNETTE Bradfield might have graduated from a childhood at Wheatvale to president of the Queensland Law Society, but she hasn't lost sight of the important role played by the residents in rural and regional Queensland.

She attended school at St Mary's, Assumption College and Warwick State High School before heading to the Queensland University of Technology to study law.

Ms Bradfield remembers helping around the family farm of her parents Eddie and Gloria Bradfield.

"I remember carting hay and driving the tractor," she said.

She graduated in law in 1991, did a post-graduate course in 1992 and worked in four firms before setting up a practice with fellow Darling Downs solicitor George Fox in November 2006.

Fox Bradfield Solicitors is based at South Brisbane where the firm specialises in property and commercial law and estate planning.

The youngest of five children, Ms Bradfield was the first from the family to go to university.

"It was something my family hadn't experienced before," she said.

"I had wonderful support from my parents and siblings Leanne, Helen, Ian and Paul.

"Young people considering the law shouldn't see it as an impediment to success that there is no family history in the law."

Her closest connection to the law was via her mother's cousin, Tom Lyons, who was a principal of Warwick firm Gaffney, Lyons and McMahon at the time.

She worked with Gaffney Lyons McMahon during her university holidays and said "the experience provided valuable insight into the day-to-day practice of law".

"I could see first-hand the important role solicitors play in the local community providing essential services and supporting local people in times of need," Ms Bradfield said.

"Often solicitors in rural and regional areas have looked after the legal needs of families for generations."

She learnt early on about the need to develop networks and seek assistance.

Her message to anyone thinking about the law as a career is to ask questions, have a chat with a local solicitor, talk to law students and undertake work experience at a local practice.

It wasn't her ambition to preside over 11,000 QLS members, but to practise as a lawyer in a small rural community. However, Annette's position has advantages for rural and regional lawyers.

"Queensland Law Society is the peak body for the state's legal profession, representing the majority of Queensland solicitors.

"I am keen to ensure the views of rural and regional Queensland lawyers are represented on the Queensland Law Society Council.

"I certainly strive very hard to achieve a good balance between city and country issues when considering matters at council level."

The solicitor from Wheatvale has lectured at the Queensland University of Technology and College of Law.

She might have ended up as a lawyer in Brisbane, but the bush is never far from her mind.

Ms Bradfield, her partner Eugene Mak and their daughters Keely, Naia and Zara head west to the family farm at Wheatvale to spend holiday time with her parents and brothers.

"As soon as I hit Cunningham's Gap, all the worries of work in Brisbane slip away," she said.

"The girls are learning to cook from their grandmother and always spend a week each holiday on the farm helping their uncles and grandfather.

"They love looking after the cattle with their uncle Ian Bradfield."

The trip to the farm for the girls always includes a day at McDougall's Pig and Calf Sale with their grandfather watching another uncle, Paul Bradfield, an auctioneer.

Since her election to the board of the Queensland Law Society in 2007, Ms Bradfield has been mindful lawyers' work can be stressful.

"It is important for lawyers to look after their mental health and develop resilience," she said.

For Ms Bradfield and her family there are trips to the farm, but on a more regular basis, netball, swimming, water polo and touch footy for daughters, aged eight to 12.

Ms Bradfield is based at the Queensland Law Society office for her one year as president, an experience preceded by six years on council.

This year, she remains involved daily in Fox Bradfield Solicitors despite her important role with the society.

One thing is for certain, she might spend most of her time in Brisbane, but you can never take the bush out of the girl.

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