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About The Committee - NSW branch

NSW Branch Committee Members 2020-2021

Marija Gurlica (nee Yelavich)  NSW Branch President
David (Bobby) Chong NSW Branch Secretary  

Wai Kaey Soon

Committee Member
(Immediate Past President)

Kripi Bhatt
Committee Member   

Ronny Chen

Committee Member  
Stefanie Cheong
Committee Member  
Candice Lau Committee Member  
Abinaja Yogarajah Committee Member
Vijhai Utheyan Committee Member  
James Wan Committee Member  
William Zhou Committee Member  
Peter Luo
Committee Member   
Heather Pang
Committee Member   

Tin Lok Shea

Committee Member   
Chelsea Wu Committee Member  
Lee-May Saw Committee Member
Gillian Woon
Committee Member

 Seena Serram Committee Member  
 Menghua (Maria) Xu  Committee Member  

 Photo taken at the NSW State AGM 2020 hosted by Baker McKenzie, featuring 2021 President Marija Gurlica and  2021 Secretary, David Chong.

NSW Branch Subcommittees

NSW Branch Subcommittees are open to all AALA Members:

1. Student Subcommittee

2. Foreign Qualified Lawyers Subcommittee

3. Data and Policy Subcommittee 

Subcommittees are a great opportunity for Members to focus on an area of advocacy or a particular issue that you are personally invested in. We encourage our Members to join an existing subcommittee or launch your own with our support. Subcommittees are a great way to get to know AALA and work directly on projects that you enjoy. 

Marija GURLICA, NSW Branch President

Marija Gurlica graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor of Law (Honours) / Bachelor of International Studies (Asian Studies and Mandarin) and a Bachelor of Critical Thinking and Leadership from Western Sydney University.  Collaborating with Western Sydney University in research and publishing, Marija's academic work has explored the intersection between climate change and aviation. 

Admitted in early 2020, Marija is a Solicitor at Lexia Wilson Lawyers, focusing on commercial real estate.  This follows her time at Piper Alderman where she completed her graduate rotation in commercial litigation, property and insolvency.

Marija sits on the NSW Law Society Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and is also the National Chair of the AALA Marketing and Media Portfolio, overseeing the design and communication of national marketing schemes.  Marija has now been an AALA Member for five years, active on the NSW State Committee and supporting various National Executive projects.  Harnessing her skills and networks as the Founding Chief Editor of the Western Sydney University law student magazine, 'Sapere Aude,' Marija enjoys connecting on a creative and provocative level. As an activist, mentor and community advocate, Marija is passionate in contributing to the growth of the legal profession and broader community.  Marija's work and leadership have been recognised by a number of industry awards and she looks forward to expanding the outreach of AALA.

Personal website: marijagurlica.com.au

David CHONG, NSW Branch Secretary

David is a Banking & Finance lawyer and also a Digital Accelerator in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Sydney legal team offering his clients an integrated service offering alongside other teams at the firm such as Debt & Capital Advisory, Tax and Deals M&A, and prior to this, David completed his studies in 2017 at Monash University in Melbourne, where he was active in its clubs and societies. 

David was privileged to serve as the President of the Monash Accounting Students’ Association and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at Monash. At ASEAN Monash he promoted asian cultures and provided a social environment for students of asian heritage, and non-asian heritage alike, to form long lasting bonds of friendship. Being a fluent speaker of Mandarin, David pursued his desire to become a connection point between Australia and China. He joined the committee of the Australia China Youth Association where he helped strengthen ties between young people in Australia and China through bilateral initiatives in the areas of Careers, Education, and People-to-People Exchange. 

David has served the AALA in different roles at both the State and National levels since 2018. Currently, he serves as the Secretary of both the NSW Branch of AALA and the National Secretariat Governance Sub-committee. He hopes to play an important role in achieving AALA's mission of diversity in the legal profession and is excited about what the future holds.

Wai Kaey SOON, NSW Committee Member and Immediate Past President   

Wai Kaey Soon is a barrister at Frederick Jordan Chambers. Prior to his admission to the Bar in 2014, Wai Kaey spent 4 years as a litigation solicitor with a particular expertise in insurance and insolvency law and litigation. His practice spans matters in Courts and Tribunals across Australia and he has expertise in commercial, equity, corporations, and intellectual property law.

Wai Kaey believes that the legal profession in Australia has open before it the vast markets and opportunities of the entire Asian region, and wants all practitioners to find and take advantage of those opportunities, at whatever level. Wai Kaey is also a passionate believer in providing support networks for legal practitioners, and ensuring that all practitioners feel welcome and accepted by others in the profession, no matter their background.

Kripi BHATT, Committee Member

Kripi Bhatt is an in-house Legal Counsel at CPB Contractors. Kripi is admitted as a lawyer in New South Wales, High Court of Australia and India and has over 6 years of experience in top tier law firms and as an in-house counsel in both India and Australia. Kripi currently practices construction and commercial law with prior experience in facilities and property management, banking and finance and human rights in India. With an Indian background, Kripi is proud to promote cultural diversity in the legal profession.

Kripi is particularly passionate about extending peer support to Foreign Qualified Lawyers migrating to Australia who are seeking to re-qualify in Australia and in need of professional guidance. Kripi has steered the creation and is the chair of the Foreign Qualified Lawyers Subcommittee under the NSW Branch Committee. Kripi also makes a significant contribution to pro bono legal services by volunteering and supporting different Community Legal Centres.

Peter Xuan LUO, Committee Member

Peter Xuan Luo is the China Business Specialist at Torch Innovation Precinct, UNSW and admitted as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. With ten years’ experience in Chinese telecommunication industry, the intersection between emerging technologies and the law is of particular interest to Peter. With a Chinese background, Peter is passionate to promote cultural diversity. Peter is experienced in helping Australian businesses take advantage of emerging opportunities in the China market including R&D, knowledge exchange, intellectual property and market analysis. Mentoring young international legal post-graduates is his primary pro-bono interest along with migration law and international student welfare. Peter is a UNSW graduate with Juris Doctor degree.

Chelsea Wu, Committee Member

Chelsea (Meixuan) Wu is a final year student at the University of New South Wales, studying a combined degree of Bachelor of Commerce (Finance)/Laws. Chelsea recently completed a clerkship program with King & Wood Mallesons, where she rotated through Mergers & Acquisitions and Banking and Finance, Restructuring & Insolvency practice groups. Currently, Chelsea is a Research Assistant for Associate Professor Weihuan Zhou working with the Herbert Smith Freehills CIBEL Centre at UNSW, and a Law Clerk at King & Wood Mallesons in the Banking and Finance and International Funds within Mergers & Acquisitions teams.

Chelsea was raised in Beijing until the age of 15 when she came to Australia, Chelsea is therefore fluent in Mandarin. Having adapted well into the Australian community over the past years, Chelsea is passionate about inspiring more people who were not born in Australia (particularly students) to be more involved in the local community, and contributing to promoting a culturally diverse legal profession. 

Chelsea is grateful for many of the opportunities and mentorships she has received which supported her along her journey, and is passionate about giving back to the community, one of the avenues for Chelsea is through facilitating initiatives that inspire, educate and introduce more resources to Law students, particularly culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Outside of studies and work, Chelsea enjoys music and dancing – she loves watching musicals, plays, going to concerts, attending hip-hop/street-style dancing classes and playing the piano.

Lee-May Saw, Committee Member

Lee-May is a barrister practising at Frederick Jordan Chambers in family law and environment and planning law. A specialist area across Lee-May’s practice at the Bar is cultural diversity issues and unconscious cultural bias. Lee-May’s maternal grandfather Tan Eng Puan migrated from China to Malaysia where he taught himself English and Malay and established a building and construction company known for its expertise in hydraulic engineering and the construction of reservoirs. She maintains an interest in this area of planning and environment law. She has served on the NSW Bar Association Diversity and Equality Committee, is a Past President of the Women Lawyers’ Association of NSW, Past Vice President of Australian Women Lawyers, and is an Honourary Member of multicultural women’s business leadership group Pink Elite.

William Zhou, Committee Member

William Zhou is studying the Master of Laws degree at The University of Sydney. In 2020, he obtained his Bachelor degrees in Law (Honours) and Business (Economics) from the Queensland University of Technology. During his undergraduate years he joined committees and university programs to help support law students, competed in local and international competitions, and worked for emerging and leading law firms. He is experienced in Australian real estate. 

Since 2018, he has been a Committee member in the Asian Australian Lawyers Association, first in Queensland and then New South Wales. Prior to this engagement, he volunteered for not-for-profit associations in the Asian community. In joining the AALA he hopes to engage students interested in the objectives of the Association.

Mengua (Maria) Xu, Committee Member

Menghua (Maria) Xu is a Juris Doctor candidate at the University of Sydney, has an undergraduate degree in clinical medicine at Tsinghua University. Her study focus is on intellectual property (patent and trademarks) and medical-legal interdisciplinary study. 

Besides a few short-term experiences as a paralegal in Sydney and Hong Kong, Maria has experience in healthcare and technology industries across different jurisdictions and general understanding in biomedical research, medical technology, cryptocurrency and blockchain, and startup acceleration. 

She also actively participated in volunteering and pro bono programs, such as the International Student Ambassador program at the City of Sydney, the Law Without Wall program sponsored by the Miami Law School, etc., advocating for Asian students’ rights. She is dedicated to making a modest difference to the challenges confronted by the Asian practitioners within the legal professions. 


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