We are so thrilled to announce that Zinta Harris has recieved the 2021 QLS Agnes McWhinney Award for her commitment to pioneering the Collaborative Practice dispute resolution model for Wills and Estates.

Our micro firm is celebrating this award as it has not come easy AND because it brings recognition to our core passion – helping families resolve estate disputes without going to court! Did our firm name give that away?

First, a little background about the award and its namesake!

Agnes McWhinney was the first female to be admitted as a solicitor in Qld (and Australia) in 1915. Her admission was reported in The Telegraph on 7 December 1915:

This event was described as an unusual occurrence although by then, as a 5 year articled clerk, Agnes had been in court often. The article concluded with a description of what she was wearing! She worked in the same Townsville firm as her brother and repeatedly fought to be paid the same wage as her male solicitor counterparts – a battle that sadly continues today.

Agnes was later referred to as a trailblazer because of how she supported other women. Notably by supporting her friend Katherine McGregor, who became the first female barrister in Qld – even though by then Agnes had given up her law career after marriage, the then expected norm.

Agnes McWhinney is described as an ordinary woman who broke new ground – an “accidental hero”. Her ordinary commitment to disrupting a then male-dominated profession had an extraordinary effect. Our all-female firm is certainly grateful for the path she blazed for all of us in this profession!

In the tradition of its namesake, the QLS Agnes McWhinney Award recognises a woman who has facilitated a pathway in the profession for those around them. It also recognises ‘ordinary’ commitment and service to the profession or community that has had an extraordinary effect.

Zinta received this award for her work in bringing the early intervention dispute resolution model – known as Collaborative Practice to wills and estates. Her award-winning book “Rest in Peace – how to manage an estate dispute without inheriting heartache” has helped hundreds of families facing their own estate dispute. And having developed Australia’s first collaborative practice training for professionals for the wills and estates context, Zinta has now trained lawyers, financial advisors and communications coaches in Qld, NSW, Vic and WA in this ground-breaking new way to help families resolve disputes.

Zinta has been recognised for starting a “resolution revolution” in our beloved Wills and Estates Law world.

Why is this “resolution revolution” needed?

It is time to do things differently to help families resolve potential or actual disputes over inheritance in a way that doesn’t end in bitter court battles.

In the next 20 years, we will witness the largest transfer of wealth from generation to generation in Australian history. Over the last decade, there has been a staggering 50% increase in contested estate matters in our courts – the trend will only get worse if families aren’t offered out of court resolution pathways.

Most people will have heard at least one horror story of the epic legal battles following the death of a family member which end up destroying families and impacting generations. Often going to court to challenge an estate is the only option families are offered – at a time when they are still struggling to manage their own grief. So, it’s really no surprise that before long families are left broken and hard-earned inheritances are lost paying huge legal bills.

Imagine instead, grieving families being offered the chance to come to their own early resolution without starting a family war. Collaborative Practice – a team-based dispute resolution model, is designed to do just that. It helps families navigate the conflict before any “nasty” legal letters are exchanged or court proceedings made. It has the potential to keep family relationships intact, and the inheritance preserved, so that the family has the freedom to get on with their lives without ongoing conflict.

It also has the co-incidental flow-on effect of making the practice of law far more enjoyable and rewarding. Lawyers can take off their battle armour – and instead operate as positive problem solvers along side their fellow colleagues, a financial advisor and communications coach. Helping families find human centred resolutions that take into account the factors that might not otherwise be relevant “at law” but are more important to the real life futures of those living through the conflict.

These are the potentials when the Collaborative Law model is applied in the context of wills and estates. And, it is why Zinta is so passionate about growing Collaborative Practice in the Wills and Estates world.

Our next blog “What is Collaborative Practice for Wills and Estates?” will set out more information about the process and how it works.

Want to know more?

Are you a wills and estates lawyer, a financial planner, mediator or communications coach? Would you like to be a part of this new way of practising in the wills and estates contexts? Then click here to learn more about Collaborative Practice Core Skills Training for Wills and Estates.

Are you facing an estates dispute worried about how it will affect your family (not to mention the inheritance)? To learn more about the Collaborative Process and other legal pathways available to families, click here to purchase Zinta’s book Rest in Peace – how to manage an estate dispute without inheriting heartache.

At Resolve Estate Law, we always try to offer our clients the legal pathway that will work best for them. If they are suited to the Collaborative process, we try to encourage our clients go down this pathway so that they can find positive settlement opportunities quickly and maintain their family relationships. If the Collaborative Pathway isn’t suitable we aim to help clients reach settlements through other out of court pathways.

If you want to resolve your family estate dispute, we are here to help. Contact us by phone or email, or click here to arrange your complimentary 15 minute call to discuss how we can assist in the resolution of your family estate dispute.

We have tried to keep legal jargon to a minimum on this website and in our blogs, but we have included an easy to understand glossary to help you better understand the legal terms you might see along the way.

Zinta Harris

Meet Zinta

Founder and Principal of Resolve Estate Law. Accredited Specialist Business Law (Qld) and Accredited Specialist Succession Law (Qld). TEP Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

I am Zinta Harris. I live in Brisbane, Australia with my husband of 25 years, Craig (known by most as Harry) and our two children Teja and Zigi. I am a specialist wills and estates lawyer by day and inspiration seeker by night. I help Australian families navigate the legal fallout after the loss of a loved one in a calm and compassionate way.

Discover more >

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