The role of the Executive
Promoting professional discussion and consultation, as well as preparing position papers and submissions on a range of matters affecting the family law jurisdiction. The Family Law Section has developed a reputation as a source of sound advice to those responsible for framing family law legislation and for determining policy and organising the administration of family law in Australia.
The FLS Executive consists of:
- One barrister and one solicitor from each of NSW, Victoria, and Queensland
- One practitioner from ACT, SA, WA, Tasmania, and NT (from 2016 election)
- The immediate past Chair of the Section Executive.
The members of the FLS Executive are elected every two years by members of the FLS, with the poll being declared at the FLS AGM.
The FLS Executive has a Chair, Deputy Chair, and Treasurer, elected by a majority vote of the Section Executive. The Executive is supported by a small team led by the Director.
Di Simpson (Chair)
Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson
18 Kendall Lane Canberra City ACT 2600
Telephone: (02) 6212 7600
Di joined the Section Executive as the Australian Capital Territory representative in November 2016 and was elected as Treasurer in December 2018. Di was elected as Deputy Chair of the Section in December 2020 and Chair in June 2021.
Di was admitted to practice in 1993, having completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Melbourne. Di first worked in regional Victoria and Melbourne before moving to Canberra in 1998, where she continued to practice family law with a national firm.
In 2007 she was a founding partner of DDCS Lawyers.
Di is an Accredited Specialist and a highly regarded solicitor-advocate who undertakes pre-trial and trial work in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Divisions 1 and 2.
In Doyle's Guide to the Legal Profession, Di has been consistently recognised by her peers and is rated as the Market Leader family lawyer in the ACT. Di is the only ACT family lawyer noted as a recommended family lawyer nationally.
She is a member of the Law Society's Family Law Committee, Legal Profession Act and Ethics Committee and a member of the Women Lawyers Association of the ACT.
She regularly presents to students, lawyers, and other professionals about family law and professional development and is actively engaged in mentoring and supporting the development of young practitioners.
Jason Walker (Deputy Chair)
Forté Family Lawyers
Level 2, 535 Bourke Street Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9248 5800
Jason Walker joined the Section Executive as the Victorian Solicitor representative in December 2018 and was elected as Treasurer in December 2020 and Deputy Chair in June 2021.
Jason is a Partner at Forté Family Lawyers and is an Accredited Specialist in Family Law (2005). His practice involves complex property and complex parenting disputes.
Jason has previously served as the Chair of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) and is a current member of the Executive of the LIV Family Law Section. He has also served on a number of LIV committees and was a founding member of the LIV Children’s Law Specialisation Advisory Committee, which is responsible for assessing and examining candidates for specialisation in Children’s Law.
Jason was the co-convenor of the Family Law Section’s National Family Law Conference held in Melbourne 2016.
Jason is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers and a member of Pacifica Congress.
Jason is regularly named in the Doyle’s Guide list of Leading Family and Divorce Lawyers (Melbourne). Jason has also been ranked in the Doyle’s Guide list of Leading High-Value & Complex Property Matters Family Lawyers (Melbourne) and list of Preeminent Parenting & Children's Matters Lawyers (Victoria).
Nicola Watts (Treasurer)
O'Sullivan Davies Lawyers
Level 27, 197 St Georges Terrace Perth WA 6000
Phone: (08) 9426 4711
Nicola joined the Section Executive as the Western Australian representative in November 2016 and was elected Treasurer in June 2021. Nicola is the Chair of the Organising Committee for the FLS 20th National Family Law Conference to be held in Perth in October 2024.
Nicola completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Tasmania and was admitted to practice in 1993, after completing articles in Hobart. After working in Launceston for several years, Nicola moved to Melbourne where she worked exclusively in family law between 1997 and 2013.
Whilst in Victoria, Nicola trained as a Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer. Since moving to Perth she has also trained as an Arbitrator. From 1995 to 2018 Nicola acted as Independent Children's Lawyer in Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia. In 2011 Nicola was made Citizen of the Year by the City of Stonnington for her service to youth. She has been recognised by Doyle's Guide as a Leading Parenting & Children's Matters Lawyer in Western Australia.
Nicola moved to Western Australia in June 2013 and joined O'Sullivan Davies in July 2018 and was made a partner in January 2020. O'Sullivan Davies has been listed as a First Tier Family Law firm in Doyle's Guide each year since 2012 and is the only nationally recognised Western Australia firm. It has a long history of supporting FLS with 3 partners acting as WA Representative, and as a major sponsor at National Conferences for many years.
Nicola has served on the Board of the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators (AIFLAM) and sits as FLS Representative on the Council of the Family Law Practitioners Association of Western Australia (FLPA). Nicola also sits on the Law Society of Western Australia's Ethics and Professional Standards Scheme sub-committees and the Legal aid WA Review Committee.
Paul Doolan (Immediate Past Chair)
Barkus Doolan Winning
Level 9, 370 Pitt St Sydney NSW 2000
Phone:(02) 9265 0111
Paul is a partner of Barkus Doolan Winning in Sydney and has been a member of the Family Law Section Executive since 2010. He served as Deputy Chair from February 2016, and as Chair from December 2018 until June 2021.
In 2015, Doyle's Guide to the Australian Legal Profession rated Paul Doolan as the Market Leader of all Australian family lawyers and in 2016 as one of the pre-eminent lawyers in the country. The firm of Barkus Doolan was rated in both 2015 and 2016 as one of a select group of Tier 1 family law firms across Australia.
Paul was the first Legal Associate to Justice Lindenmayer in the Appeal Division of the Family Court and admitted to practice as a Solicitor in 1995. After working with Hunt & Hunt Lawyers in Brisbane in corporate, tax, and family law areas, he joined a Sydney practice in 1998 and made Partner the following year. He holds a Master of Laws degree and is an accredited family law specialist.
Paul is a member of the Editorial Board of the Australian Journal of Family Law, a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, a former Director of the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators, and a member of the Family Law Issues Committee of the Law Society of NSW.
Paul has presented or published over 60 papers on family law. These include parenting issues such as the unacceptable risk test and the court's approach to interim parenting disputes, together with financial matters such as the taxation aspects of family law settlements, the impact of bankruptcy in family cases, the approach in superannuation cases, the resolution of big money financial disputes and problems surrounding Financial Agreements.
Jamie is the Managing Director of Broun Abrahams Burreket Family Lawyers, one of Sydney's largest boutique Family Law firms. He is an accredited specialist in Family Law in NSW and has consistently been ranked by his peers in the Doyle's Guide as Preeminent both Nationally and in New South Wales.
Peter Cummings SC
Peter's main area of practice is in Family Law, both trial and appellate work. He is a qualified Arbitrator under the Family Law Act and is a member of the NSW Bar Association's Family Law Committee and represents that committee in the Family Courts Users Group.
Jasmine is an Associate at McCarthy Durie Lawyers and was elected to the Family Law Section Executive as the Queensland Solicitor representative in December 2020.
Greg has been a member of the Executive since November 2008. He is a director of the firm Howe Jenkin, a specialist family law firm in the Adelaide CBD, and is a senior Adelaide family law practitioner with over 38 years of experience.
Philip Looney KC
Philip was first called to the Bar in 1996 and took silk in 2012. He has had a diverse practice with his current focus being on Family Law and Tax litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. Philip has been recognised as a leading Queensland senior counsel in Doyle’s Guide in the areas of Family Law and Tax.
Trevor joined the Section Executive as the Tasmanian representative in June 2021.
Before being called to the bar in 2023, Trevor was a senior associate at Ogilvie Jennings (Doyle’s Guide Tier 1 family law firm in Tasmania). During his 15 years as a solicitor, Trevor regularly appeared as counsel in courts and tribunals both at first instance and on appeal.
Dr Robin Smith
Robin Smith was called to the Victorian Bar in 2009. He practices exclusively in family law, specialising in matters with complex questions of law, including matters with issues related to bankruptcy, equity, trusts, and third-party disputes. He has a strong appeal practice, regularly drafting appeal documents and appearing at appeal hearings. He is a qualified family law arbitrator.