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Appointment to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Media Release

I am pleased to announce that Ms Patricia Cope, Ms Meredith Dickson QC, Ms Catherine Symons and Mr Jonathan Forbes have been appointed as judges of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCC).

Ms Cope will commence in the Cairns Registry on 26 July 2021. She was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in the Supreme Court of Victoria in 1992, and has been the principal at Cope Family Law since 2004.

Ms Dickson will commence in the Adelaide Registry on 26 July 2021. She was admitted as a practitioner in the Supreme Court of South Australia in 1991 and began her career as a legal associate in the Supreme Court of South Australia in 1992. Ms Dickson was called to the Bar in 2000, appointed Senior Counsel in 2020 and Queens Counsel in 2021.

Ms Symons and Mr Forbes will commence in the Melbourne Registry on 26 July 2021.

Ms Symons was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in the Supreme Court of Victoria in 2001 and commenced her career as a solicitor at Russell Kennedy Solicitors in 2001. She is currently working as Barrister in the Castan Chambers.

Mr Forbes was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in the Supreme Court of Victoria in 1985 and started his career as a litigation associate at Philips Fox (now DLA Piper Australia). He signed the roll of Victorian Counsel in 2003 and is currently a Barrister in the Aickin Chambers.

On behalf of the Australian Government, I congratulate Ms Cope, Ms Dickson QC, Ms Symons and Mr Forbes on their appointments and thank them for their willingness to serve the people of Australia as judges of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Ms Patricia Cope

Ms Cope graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Laws from the University of Tasmania in 1990.

She commenced her legal career in 1993 as a solicitor at Penttila & Henderson, and later practised as a solicitor at Lagois Magoffin Rose. Ms Cope was a Legal Consultant at the Family Law Consortium London in 2000 and was the series editor for the Family Court Reports, Butterworths London (now Lexis Nexis) during 2001.

Ms Cope subsequently practised as a solicitor at Legal Aid Queensland in 2001, became an associate at the Law Office (Cairns) in 2002 and since 2004 has been the principal solicitor at Cope Family Law. In addition, since 1999 Ms Cope has been an accredited family law specialist in family law and family violence matters.

Ms Meredith Dickson QC

Ms Dickson graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Jurisprudence) and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Adelaide in 1989 and 1991 respectively.

From 1992 to 1994, Ms Dickson worked as a legal associate to Family Court Judges, Justice Christopher Legoe SC, Justices Kemeri Murray AO, Thomas McGovern DFC ChLH, John Gun and Doreen Bulbeck. She subsequently commenced as a solicitor at Di Morosini & Co in 1994 before moving to Thompson Playford in 1998.

Ms Dickson specialises in family law, appearing in the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, and has extensive experience in arbitration and mediation.

Ms Catherine Symons

Ms Symons graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from Monash University in 1996 and 1999 respectively and later gained a Master of Laws from Monash University in 2010.

She commenced her career as a solicitor at Russell Kennedy Solicitors in 2001. She was then a solicitor at Madgwicks Lawyers from 2002 to 2004 before becoming an associate to Justice Marshall of the Federal Court of Australia in 2004. Ms Symons signed the Bar Roll of Victorian Counsel in 2005.

Ms Symons' practice has primarily focused on employment, discrimination and administrative law. In her practice, Ms Symons has represented a number of employers and employees in a range of employment, occupational health and safety and industrial matters.

Mr Jonathan Forbes

Mr Forbes graduated with a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Laws from the Monash University in 1983 and 1984 respectively, and later gained a Master of Business Administration from University of Melbourne in 2010.

Mr Forbes commenced his career as a litigation associate at Philips Fox (now DLA Piper). In 1987, he joined Freehills (now Herbert Smith Freehills) where he was a partner and practice group leader, and he signed the roll of Victorian Counsel in 2003. Mr Forbes specialises in workplace relations and employment law and has acted as employment law counsel for many of Australia's largest private and public sector employers.