Our Team

President Leeha James

Leeha James is currently President of the Bayside Community Legal Service, having held that position since 2019.

Leeha has more than 25 years’ experience as a lawyer, specialising in workplace health and safety, litigation, and compensation law.      

As the owner and Director of specialist compensation law firm, James Law, Leeha has represented everyday people across a range of industry sectors, including emergency and first responders, electrical, construction, health, mining, and the public service.

Leeha was appointed to the Board of Sunwater as a non-executive Director on 1 October 2021.

Leeha holds a Bachelor of Law degree from the Queensland University of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities degree with Honours from Griffith University. She is also an Accredited Specialist in personal injuries through the Queensland Law Society.

With over 25 years of experience working with community-based organisations, not for profit associations and charities, Leeha has developed a keen interest in supporting the community and not for profit sector. This includes developing strategies for continual improvement in governance, compliance, performance, and staff wellbeing, in addition to promoting public policy agendas.

Previously, she was a founding Director of the Firefighters Cancer Foundation of Australia Ltd.

Leeha also represents the legal profession on a number of Qld Law Society professional practice committees such as the Professional Conduct Committee and the Accident Compensation/Tort Law Committee and has appeared before Queensland Parliamentary Committees in relation to contentious policy issues being considered by the Queensland Parliament.

The skills and experience she bring to the job are built around solid and practical business foundations with a strong community and social justice focus.

Vice President Kate Fuller

Kate Fuller is a practising barrister based in Brisbane in Win Paten Chambers.  She appears in criminal, family, child protection, youth justice and domestic violence proceedings. 

Prior to being called to the bar, Kate was a founding partner at Fuller & White Solicitors.  She holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Masters of Laws (Applied Criminal Practice).  She completed her research masters thesis on the introduction of Strangulation offences under the Criminal Code in response to domestic violence reform.  She is an adjunct lecturer at the College of Law.

Treasurer Paul Coves

Paul Coves is the principal and director of Coves & Co. He has over 25 years’ experience as a solicitor and advocate practising primarily in litigation and alternative dispute resolution in state, interstate and federal jurisdictions. He holds a Masters’ degree in law, specialising in dispute resolution management.

Paul is a Nationally Accredited Mediator and accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. He is also a panel mediator with the Department of Justice and Attorney General’s Dispute Resolution Centre. He has undertaken hundreds of mediations in a large variety of commercial, property, succession, family, peace and good behaviour, high conflict, neighbourhood and contractual disputes.

Prior to his legal career, Paul gained valuable commercial experience in a large multinational corporation in Australia and the UK. It has enabled him to understand the commerciality and strategy of many business decisions and gives him insight into the realities of commercial dispute.

Relevant Memberships and committees:

Queensland Law Society

Chair, Queensland Law Society, ADR Practice Committee.

Bayside Community Legal Centre – Treasurer, executive committee member 2019 and volunteer solicitor since 2013

Coastal Communities Protection Alliance – Wooli Inc. – Committee member and legal adviser since 2009.

QLS representative in its working group with cross jurisdictional representatives for the ADR Hub.

Secretary Karen Hewitt

Karen Hewitt is a registered nurse with over 30 years’ experience, focusing on women’s health and education. Karen has travelled internationally as an educator and presented at International Health conferences around the world. Currently Karen organises the weekly Cleveland Markets.

Karen is currently the Secretary of Bayside Community Legal Services joining in 2022. Karen is also the founder of a New Zealand Charity, Just Because which was founded in 2016.

Karen has an extensive fundraising background which started at a young age, from cake stalls to running education sessions with 300 plus participants while raising funds for charities. Karen is keen to continue to make a difference in the community, with recently being successful in installing a Community Automatic Defibrillator in Cleveland for all to use.

When not working or volunteering her time, Karen enjoys looking after her health and spending time with friends and family.

General Member Marshall Bostock

Marshall is a solicitor primarily providing advice on matters of criminal and family law; previously he also practiced personal injury law assisting clients who had been victims of institutional abuse.

Marshall also has qualifications in family dispute resolution, and accordingly he provides an acute ability to identify and resolve many of the problems affecting his clients.  Marshall has been a member of the Bayside Community Legal Centre since 2018 and a board member since 2019.

General Member David Boca

Meet David Boca. David operates a boutique accountancy and tax practice in Manly. David has also worked in privately-held and ASX listed enterprises in senior finance positions so his commercial understanding of how business operates from a financial perspective underpins his recommendations and advice on all matters of business and tax. 

David started working with BCLS in December 2019 as the accountant and joined the management team in 2021. David decided to dedicate his time and volunteer his services as the accountant for BCLS and also joined the management committee as he values the work BCLS carries out in the general public. If he can make even a small difference to the local community by contributing to the work performed by the team at BCLS. His mission is to add value to the business and is driven by positive results and outcomes.

General Member Peter Goodwin

Peter has over 40 years experience first as a Solicitor (6 years) then as a Barrister particularly in the areas of Criminal Law, Personal Injuries ,Wills and Estates and in all general litigation. After 40 plus years in the legal profession Peter decided it was high time he started to put something back into the community and so volunteered with BCLS.

General Member Vanessa Hernandez

Vanessa has been a legal practitioner for more than 15 years, specialising in Family Law.  Vanessa is the Queensland Head of Legal for Australian Family Lawyers, overseeing the national firm’s Queensland offices based in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Bayside. 

Vanessa has also been involved as a Steering Committee Member for the Gold Coast Family Law Pathways Network which aims to provide collaboration and coordination between organisations and professionals operating within the broader family law system.  Vanessa is also the Founder and President of VENN, a networking group for professionals with a view to providing mentoring opportunities and the development of professional relationships across all levels of experience, and all industries. 

Vanessa joined Bayside Community Legal Service (BCLS) in December 2021 as a committee member and has continued in this role with BCLS since this time.  Vanessa is passionate about the role that BCLS plays in benefiting the Bayside and wider community by providing volunteer legal and mediation services.

General Member Kristen Hodge

Kristen Hodge is a Wiradjuri woman from NSW born and raised on the Galare (Lachlan) River in Forbes. Kristen moved to Queensland to commence university at Griffith University and found work specialising in native title and cultural heritage issues over the last 15 years working in the Queensland space. Kristen has represented the State Government, Local Governments, mining and development land users and Traditional Owners from all different angles and has unique perspectives as a result. Kristen currently works at the Native Title Representative Body, Queensland South Native Title Services and her passion is focused around cultural heritage and economic independence for groups. Kristen also advocates for the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals and has been a member of the Indigenous Lawyer’s Association of Queensland since 2017 and was appointed President in March 2022. Kristen is also the co-chair of the Queensland Law Society First Nation’s Policy Committee and volunteers her time advocating for changes to laws. Kristen became a general member of the Management Committee for the Bayside Community Legal Centre in October 2022. Kristen is committed to ensuring local community members have access to free, informed legal advice.

General Member Michael Stubbins

Michael Stubbins is a board member and Past President of the Bayside Community Legal Service (BCLS).

Michael worked for the Department of Justice and Attorney-General (DJAG) for twenty-eight years in various roles including Clerk of the Court/Registrar Magistrates Court Collinsville; Registrar Magistrates Court Thursday Island, Coroner, Deputy Registrar Births, Deaths and Marriages, Agent for Public Trustee, Agent for Suncorp, High Bailiff and Assistant Returning Officer for Cook all while working in the Torres Strait. In his last role for DJAG he was a Registrar in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

After leaving DJAG Michael worked for the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy/Partnership for seven years again in various roles including Legal Officer, and Manager of the Local Initiative Program which included the Community Justice Group Program and the Diversion from Custody Program. Duties included managing the grant processes for each of the two programs.

Michael then worked for Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) for fifteen years, firstly as the Manager of Legislation before being appointed as the Director and later Superintendent of the Murridhagun Cultural Centre. In this role he was responsible for providing advice and support to the Commissioner and other senior staff within QCS regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (First Nations) issues as they impacted on the operations of QCS with a particular focus on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, offenders and communities.

During his time at QCS he was seconded to the Department of Premier and Cabinet for nearly 12 months to work on the development and introduction of the Family Responsibilities Commission in the communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge. In this role he was responsible for selecting, appointing and training the Family Responsibilities Commissioners and Family Responsibilities Coordinators in the four communities.

Michael retired from the Queensland Public Services on the 2 July 2021 after fifty years of service to the people of Queensland.

Michael has volunteered with a number of organisations over the years including two years with Lions in Collinsville; five years with the Thursday Island Bowls Club, as Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary and more than sixteen years as a volunteer Solicitor with BCLS. He is also a Director of the Brisbane Council of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Corporation.

Michael has an LLB from the Queensland University of Queensland.

Principal Solicitor Caitlin Downs

Caitlin joined the BCLS team in March 2020 and has been Principal Solicitor at BCLS since November 2021.  Caitlin was admitted as a legal practitioner in 2015 and specialises in family law, domestic violence and criminal law matters. Before joining BCLS, Caitlin worked in private practice and also volunteered at two community legal centres. 

Caitlin is an accredited Domestic Violence Duty Lawyer and regularly provides outreach legal advice to those in the Bayside area. Caitlin’s passion for social justice means that she strives to assist clients to navigate their way through challenging times so that they can be empowered to take the next steps in their legal matter.  

Solicitor Meggan Hameiri

Meggan holds a Bachelor of Law (Distinction) and is currently completing a Master of Laws (Family Law). Before joining BCLS, Meggan worked at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability and at Women’s Legal Service Qld. Her first role after re-training as a solicitor was with the Office of the Child and Family Official Solicitor, the in-house legal team for Child Safety. Previously, she volunteered with Salvos Legal Humanitarian from 2017 until its closure in 2020, gaining exposure to areas including criminal, family and migration law. She now specialises in family law, child protection and domestic violence matters.

Meggan’s previous (work) life was in journalism and editing; she will forever be on the lookout for rogue apostrophes.

Coordinator Kerryn Mitchell

Kerryn has in excess of 20 years administrative experience across a range of industries including legal, accounting, real estate, sales and manufacturing.  Kerryn is BCLS’s Coordinator and is the administrative assistant linking our volunteer and employed solicitors, mediators and students with our clients.

Our Team in the Community

BCLS with Local MPs