Women magistrates to rule in Wollongong

Girl power is set to take over Wollongong Local Court in 2013, as the courthouse gains two new female magistrates.

Magistrates Geraldine Beattie and Susan McGowan will sit on the bench in the new year, replacing magistrates Les Mabbutt and Ian Guy, who have both spent several years presiding in the region.

Mr Mabbutt will head to Sydney's Central Local Court, while Mr Guy will take up a position at Campbelltown.

Ms Beattie comes to the Illawarra from Goulburn Local Court, where she has been sitting for the past few years.

Gaining teaching and arts degrees at Macquarie University before embarking on a law degree at the University of Sydney, Ms Beattie was admitted as a solicitor in 1994. She worked as a high school teacher until 1991, when she made the decision to switch to a law career. Ms Beattie worked as a clerk at private law firms Cichero McLean & Menzies and Roach & Halligan until 1996 when she took up a position at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

She occupied various roles within her decade-long stint at the DPP including acting managing lawyer, duty solicitor for Burwood Local Court and acting trial advocate. She was appointed as a magistrate in 2006 and has sat at courts in Yass and Goulburn.

Ms McGowan, a former Southern Highlands solicitor, was admitted to the bench in 2009 after nearly 25 years in the legal profession.

She had been a partner in a Bowral law firm since 1989, practising mainly in general commercial and civil matters, property and contract law, wills and estates.

Ms McGowan had also spent nearly a decade working as an arbitrator, frequently taking part in mediation in the NSW Supreme Court.

She is also a counsellor of the Law Society of NSW and is a member of its Disclosures Committee, Conduct Committee and Accreditation Board.

Ms Beattie had been presiding at Campbelltown Local Court and is expected to hear coronial matters in Wollongong.

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