Alison Osmand BA ’88, LLB ’91

8 July 2021

Alison Osmand is a partner in the local Canberra law firm Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson, specialising in family law, as well as a member of the ANU Women's Alumni Network steering committee. Having grown up in the Newcastle area, Alison was drawn to study at the ANU because of the amazing reputation of the University and has since lived and worked in Canberra for over 30 years. She particularly has an ongoing deep affection for the ANU campus and strong memories of wandering and walking the campus while at Ursula College and Burton and Garran Hall, particularly in spring. The camaraderie of living in the halls of residence helped her develop a strong network of great mates, who she continues to be in contact with till this day.

Her studies were Arts/Law , majoring in sociology and Law - and although she admits her law degree was hard and at times just downright boring, it taught her that life is a marathon and not a sprint. "Some of the ANU law lecturers taught by what is known as the Socratic Method. This involved a question and answer regime between lecturer and student, who was chosen at random without notice. As well as studying hard, being at University also meant establishing a proper social life for the first time ever. More than once, I might have dozed off during one of those lectures only to wake up when being asked a question."

Over the years, Alison has volunteered in various roles and committees, including being a board member on local not-for-profit organisations with a particular focus on children and women's health. Speaking of her desire to work with the ANU WAN, she says

I was keen to be involved in an organisation that promotes and supports women and to connect with like-minded women. I wanted to be part of a network that utilises the skills of both older and younger women and women from diverse and interesting backgrounds.

You could say her values for empowering women were instilled in her from a young age - the woman she admires most is her mum, who was a child of the Depression. Only able to stay at school until she was 15years of age before she had to go out to work, she was passionate about her daughters receiving an education and learning.

Through her work, she has had the pleasure of representing many wonderful people, some of whom have faced and overcome real adversity. She has also had the joy and pleasure of representing many children and even 30 years on, still feels like she is doing her dream job.

"In the next 5 to 10 years, assisting people in the family law context will be a real challenge. Recent legislative changes will place even more pressure on an underfunded and generally undervalued family law system. Finding ways to move people through what can be the most difficult period of their lives with as little harm to them is possible will be both a career challenge and career highlight." She also hopes to continue to work with the many wonderful colleagues in her firm who are growing into fabulous lawyers and not only watch, but help them succeed. Past experience has taught her that tomorrow is always another day.

One of the great joys of being an experienced lawyer is the ability to mentor younger, less experienced lawyers. It has been a career highlight to be able to mentor other lawyers and see them succeed in their chosen field, with many of those people becoming friends. "Women can achieve amazing things with the support and backing of other women, especially early on in their careers."


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