Morawa-raised lawyer recognised for helping the disadvantaged

Jamie ThannooMidwest Times
Award winner Kate Turtley-Chappel and Attorney-General John Quigley
Camera IconAward winner Kate Turtley-Chappel and Attorney-General John Quigley Credit: Karen Chappel

A Midwest-raised lawyer’s work representing disadvantaged people has been recognised at the WA Attorney-General’s Community Service Law Awards.

Kate Turtley-Chappel, who grew up in Morawa, received the inaugural Legal Aid Panel Member Award, recognising her for work in legal aid while practicing in a private company.

Ms Turtley-Chappel spent much of career in Geraldton and was the managing solicitor of the Aboriginal Legal Service WA for Geraldton and Carnarvon, before moving to Perth in 2020 to work at a private law practice, AP Legal.

She continues to serve clients from both Legal Aid and ALSWA, working pro bono for the later, with over half of her work being unpaid.

“You’d find a lot of practitioners won’t do a lot of legal aid work because it doesn’t make good business sense, so I appreciate that the Attorney-General has acknowledged it,” Ms Turtley-Chappel said.

“It is important, and we need more people doing it.”

Ms Turtley-Chappel said growing up in regional Australia had instilled her with a deep sense of community spirit which inspired her work.

“You can’t grow up in a small, community town and not be aware of what community spirit is,” she said.

“You can’t play sport as a kid unless there’s 10 or 12 people volunteering their time and resources to make that happen, so its something you are exposed to.”

She also thanked her family for raising her to always do the right thing and help those in need.

WA Attorney-General John Quigley presented the award and praised Ms Turtley-Chappel for her commitment to providing those in need with their right to a legal defence.

“Kate Turtley-Chappel is the principal of a private practice, yet frequently takes on challenging and difficult matters for underprivileged and sometimes contentious clients,” Mr Quigley said.

“The lawyers and organisations honoured in these awards have been outstanding in selflessly providing their services to vulnerable Western Australians.”

The Legal Aid Panel member award was introduced this year to recognise private lawyers who did exceptional working representing disadvantaged people.

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