Magistrate Cathy-Ann McLennan

Portrait of Magistrate Cathy-Ann McLennan

2015 Chancellor's Award Recipient.
Early Career Recipient, College of Business, Law and Governance

Cathy-Ann McLennan was recently appointed as a Queensland Magistrate and is the first graduate of James Cook University to be appointed to the Bench.

In her last year at JCU, Magistrate McLennan was appointed as the first Associate to the Honourable Justice Cullinane, AM. In 1994 she was admitted to the Bar. Just past her 22nd birthday, she was the youngest barrister in Queensland.

She commenced practice with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal service in Townsville and Palm Island. The cases she worked on during that time, including a murder trial where a 12 year old boy and his three young brothers stood accused, had such an enduring effect on her that she wrote a book about her experiences.

The book, a memoir entitled Saltwater People, won the prestigious Queensland Literary Award in 2014. Saltwater People is one of only two non-fiction books ever to have won this prize and is due to be released by UQ Press next year.

Since leaving the Aboriginal legal service, Magistrate McLennan spent 20 years in private practice as a barrister.  She appeared in all courts, including the High Court, and worked as a qualified mediator.

She was a director on the Board of the Townsville Community Legal Service for more than four years and tutored law at JCU.

In 2002, Magistrate McLennan moved to Brisbane and commenced practice in Dan Casey Chambers.

Pregnant with twins in 2005, she undertook a Masters of Law at the University of Queensland, graduating in 2006. She was then appointed as a part-time member of a Federal Appeals Tribunal, hearing and deciding Commonwealth administrative cases.

Magistrate McLennan was appointed to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal in 2014.

She is well known for her dedication to vulnerable Queenslanders through her work with the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, and Women’s Legal Service.

As a member of Queensland Women Lawyers she also mentors young female lawyers and other students. And she has provided pro-bono legal advice for the RSPCA and the Bar Association for many years.

Magistrate McLennan was a director on the Board of Dance North, from 1998 to 2000.

Cathy-Ann McLennan graduated from James Cook University in 1994 with a Bachelor of Laws.