Congratulations to our very own Jessica Kennedy – 2014 ACT Young Lawyer of the Year.

In 2013, Jess obtained her Degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Canberra. Her Thesis examines the changes made by the Australian Capital Territory Sexual and Violent Offences Legislation Amendment Act 2008 which aims to reduce the trauma of a trial for victims of violence. The Thesis focuses on the effect of the legislative reforms on the experiences of adult, non disabled victims of sexual assault. Jess (as well other solicitors, including solicitors of our firm, and professionals in the domestic violence and criminal law fields) have used the outcome of this study to better protect victims in such cases.

Jess is a passionate advocate for women’s rights, particularly as they are relevant in cases which involve domestic violence. Jess continues to publish articles in this area in the hope that further positive change can be effected.

Jess volunteers at the Women’s Legal Centre in Canberra as part of Farrar Gesini Dunn’s commitment to provide pro bono assistance to the WLC. This involves Jess attending the Centre to provide advice and representation to women on a regular basis on Friday mornings and Tuesday evenings. This is particularly significant presently as the Women’s Legal Centre has recently suffered significant funding cuts.

Jess is on the Nexgen Committee at Marymead. Marymead is a community based, not for profit organisation with a long history of providing support services to children, young people and families.

Marymead has close ties with the family law profession given the services they provide to families, particularly families who are going through separation.

Jess is also on the Management Committee of Inanna Crisis Service, which is a community organisation that provides crisis accommodation and support services to people in the community who are experiencing mental health issues, are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and/or those who have experienced trauma. Jess’ work in the domestic violence sphere is largely complimented by her membership of the Inanna Board and often Jessica encounters clients, whether through her private work here at Farrar Gesini Dunn or clients she sees at the Women’s Legal Centre who require the services and assistance of Inanna.

Jess has quickly risen to recognition as one of the leading young family lawyers in Canberra. She is widely respected by her colleagues and peers. She has developed a busy and diverse practice and runs cases in many areas, with a particular niche for collaborative law and cases involving domestic violence and substance abuse. She has a passion for cases where women need to be given a voice and works hard to protect the rights of women who may not have the strength or ability to do so for themselves.

Jess has been instrumental in developing collaboration as a preferred method of dispute resolution in family law matters. She is an active member of the Canberra Collaborative Practice Group. She soon hopes to have an article published about collaboration in the Australian Journal of Family Law.

Her professionalism and positive presence in the office is commendable. She shows up to work with a smile every day. Nothing fazes her (despite some of the very difficult cases she manages) and she is always willing to provide assistance and support to her colleagues on top of her own file load. Jess works hard and is a respected and valued member of our firm. She has made a very promising start to a very successful career in family law and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for her.

Her publications include:

  • Kennedy, J. and Easteal, P., ‘Colour “Black Letter” Sexual Assault Law Grey: An Australian Example’. (Accepted chapter in Challenging Law, Changing Law: The Subcontinent and Beyond, India: Eastern Book Company).
  • Kennedy, J. and Easteal, P., ‘The Rights (Boxing) Ring: Australian Rape Trials’ in Gavin, H. and Bent, J. (eds), Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Psychological, Legal and Cultural Examination of Sex and Sexuality (2010) 131.
  • Herbert, J., Easteal, P. and Kennedy, J., ‘Collaborative Practice in Australia: Is it a Viable Option for Family Violence Victims in Family Law Matters?’ (2014) Under review.






  • Kennedy, J., ‘Striving for Solace: Sexual Assault Law Reform in Practice’ (Paper presented at the ANU Law and Change Conference, Canberra, 11-12 June 2009).

Jessica Kennedy