Emerging Leaders

Emerging Leaders

Emerging Leaders

The Centre for Legal Innovation’s (CLI) inaugural Emerging Leaders Advisory Board (ELAB) includes innovators and legalpreneurs in Australia with experience in different aspects of the business and practice of law. In 2023, the Board will be led by CLI’s Executive Director, Terri Mottershead.

Our ELAB is an is an important initiative for CLI. It’s guidance and support of our work complements that of CLI’s Advisory Board.

ELAB’s members provide CLI with an even more diverse, inclusive and deeper understanding of how change/transformation/innovation is impacting early to mid NewLaw practitioners (lawyers, data scientists, legal technologists, legal operations professionals and many more), and support us in ensuring we anticipate and respond with agility, so our work remains relevant to all in the legal ecosystem.

Our Emerging Leaders Advisory Board members for 2023 are:


Vertika Batra

Vertika Batra

Solicitor – Property Legal, Coles Group

Vertika is an in-house Property Solicitor at Coles Group and alumna of The Legal Forecast. She also has experience in consumer, commercial, marketing and privacy law. Prior to working as a lawyer, Vertika was a Supply Chain Finance Analyst at Unilever. She is passionate about bridging the gap between legal education, innovation and practice.

Josh Buckley - Profile image of person

Josh Buckley

Legal Technology Analyst, Ashurst; Research Assistant (QUT Centre of Robotics)

Josh is a Legal Technology Analyst at Ashurst, working in the Ashurst Advance Digital team to develop innovative technological solutions to legal problems. The team at Ashurst Advance Digital deploys cutting-edge technology and user design principles to streamline legal processes, optimise the delivery of legal services and transform legal data into legal outcomes.

Furthermore, Josh is a Research Assistant in the QUT Faculty of Law and QUT Centre of Robotics with interests at the intersection of law and technology. His research work centres on Artificial Intelligence, Privacy Law and Computational Law, with a particular focus on interpretation, coding validation and legal alignment in coding financial regulatory legislation and guidelines.

Mia De Leo

Mia De Leo

Commercial Lawyer, Law Squared

Mia is a commercial lawyer at Law Squared, a leading NewLaw firm working with Australia’s top in-house legal teams, executives, and growth businesses. Law Squared has grown in reputation as a true challenger to mid-tier firms over the seven years since its inception, largely due to its “Human Centred” approach to law which Mia has taken an active role in building from within the firm. Her day-to-day consists of advising technology-focused clients, and working closely with Law Squared's Digital and Innovation team to improve the delivery of legal services to in-house teams across Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.

Sheetal Deo

Founder and Principal Solicitor, Shakti Legal Solutions; Founder & Lead Facilitator, The Diversity Collective; Adjunct Lecturer, College of Law; Knowledge Program Facilitator, Diversity Council of Australia; and Councillor 2022/23, Queensland Law Society

Sheetal Deo (she/her) is passionate about leveraging platforms and privilege to connect ideas, people and opportunities that amplify and empower underrepresented experiences.

Sheetal has a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and political science from the University of the Fraser Valley (Canada), and a Juris Doctor, Master of Laws and Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from Bond University (Australia). Sheetal incorporates her political and social science training in her advocacy for equity & accessibility and was awarded the 2022 Multicultural Queensland Awards for her outstanding contribution as a new Queenslander. Sheetal is the Principal and Founder of Shakti Legal Solutions; an award winning innovative low-bono law firm designed specifically to improve access to legal assistance for everyday people through a unique, ‘pay what you can’ model.

In addition to her firm, Sheetal is an adjunct lecturer at the College of Law, a Knowledge Program Facilitator with the Diversity Council of Australia, offers private and bespoke trainings and keynotes with her own diversity and inclusion consultancy (The Diversity Collective) and volunteers her time on various not-for-profit organisations and boards, including the Centre of Legal Innovation’s Emerging Leaders Advisory Board and the Queensland Law Society Council where Sheetal is the first woman of colour to serve on its Council in its 150 year history.

Matthew Hollings - Person with glasses smiling

Matthew Hollings

Head of Business Development, Sky Discovery

Matthew has been a part of the legal industry for over 10 years. First, as a practising solicitor working in litigation for a large national firm. Second, working in-house for a large financial institution in its disputes team, before moving into the world of legal technology. Matthew has spent the last 9 years using his practical experience as a litigator to support lawyers working in private practice, in-house and government with eDiscovery solutions that help them to collect, analyse, manage and review the increasing volumes and types of data related to their disputes, regulatory responses and investigations effectively and efficiently. Working in close partnership with their clients throughout the entire matter lifecycle, Matthew and his colleagues use their legal and technological experience to develop solutions that make the technical, practical and the complex, simple so that legal teams can focus on the law, and their clients.

Terri Mottershead

Executive Director, Centre for Legal Innovation (Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific) at The College of Law (CLI); Chair CLI Emerging Leaders Advisory Board

Terri works internationally with leaders of legal businesses supporting them in identifying trends, developing strategies, and transforming their capabilities and practices to deliver legal services/products in the new legal ecosystem. She is the instigator, designer, developer and collaborator-in-chief of CLI’s global initiatives, networks and programs including the Legalpreneurs Lab and the Innovation Incubator Program. She is the host of CLI’s The Legalpreneurs Sandbox podcast and a frequent keynote speaker and author on legal ecosystem trends and their practical impact on legal practice at global, regional and local industry events.

Terri is the Chair of the Queensland Law Society Innovation Committee, serves as the representative for Australia on the Asia-Pacific Legal Innovation and Technology Association (ALITA) Advisory Board, is a Bilgi Law Labs Advisory Board member for the Istanbul Bilgi University Law School and is a member of the global, inaugural CLOC Education Advisory Council. She was profiled as a legal industry thought leader by McCulloch Robertson in 2019 for its Year 101: Women in Law initiative and was a finalist in the Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Innovator of the Year Award (Individual) 2021.

Jack O’Donnell - Person smiling with grey tshirt

Jack O’Donnell

Co-Founder and Co-CEO, JustFund

Jack started his career as a graduate lawyer at Holding Redlich in Sydney before moving to Allen & Overy where he practised in commercial litigation. He left private practice and spent four years in London at leading legal technology companies, Thirdfort and Lexoo, before moving back to Australia and co-founding JustFund, Australia's only dedicated family law finance provider, in January 2022.

Robert O’Grady - Profile photo of a person in a suit

Robert O’Grady

Lawyer, Fintech + Web3 (Tech + IP Group), Gilbert + Tobin

Robert is a Lawyer in Gilbert + Tobin’s Fintech + Web3 team (ranked Band 1 by Chambers). His practice focuses on the intersection between digital products and regulation, including across fintech, payments, web3 + digital assets, digital platforms, financial services, funds, credit, AML/CTF and technology.

Robert has specialist expertise and experience across a range of fintech and digital sectors, including platforms and markets structuring, establishment and management, payments systems, infrastructure and ecosystems, bespoke crypto and digital asset strategies and products, blockchain applications, challenger lenders and neobanks.

Robert has contributed to numerous industry publications, including the Financial Technology Law Review, the International Comparative Legal Guide to Fintech, the Global Legal Insights: Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Regulation, the Global Legal Insights: Fintech, the International Comparative Legal Guide to Derivatives and Getting the Deal Through: Financial Services Compliance.

Robert is passionate about the development of policy and law across the technology sector, including the progression of digital literacy within the legal profession.

Phoebe Pitt

Special Counsel (Commercial Disputes & Insolvency), Mills Oakley

Phoebe is a Special Counsel in Mills Oakley’s Commercial Disputes & Insolvency team.

With over a decade of legal experience, Phoebe regularly acts in significant, complex pieces of multi-party litigation, primarily in superior courts across numerous jurisdictions including for SMEs, ASX-listed corporations, directors, insolvency practitioners, and international litigants. Phoebe is well-regarded for her strong client-focussed approach and adoption of suitable technologies. Clients value Phoebe’s ability to manage large-scale and multi-faceted litigation whilst remaining intimately acquainted with the minutiae of a case, integrating modern and cutting-edge technological processes where suitable, to maximise efficiencies and best advance her clients’ cases.

Phoebe is particularly passionate about the advancement of women in law, and the identification and adoption of innovative processes and technologies in our field.

Janie found her passion for technology during her first career in both technical and project management roles in both Australia and overseas in the Information Technology profession. In her current career as inhouse counsel, Janie is working to bring technology, law and project management principles together to dispel fear of technological change and create efficiencies and better outcomes for legal practitioners, their clients and the legal profession generally.

Janie was a 2020 nominee in the Women in Technology WA Tech (+) Awards and her legal tech interests lie in AI, the Power Platform and getting the most from your current products. She is currently developing her Power skills to build simple automations that can produce quick efficiency wins for inhouse legal teams and is keen to expand that to self-service tools that can enable clients to participate more meaningfully in the progression of their matters, thus increasing their sense of control while potentially reducing their legal costs.

Mel Scott

Senior Legal Counsel, Megaport Limited; Host & Producer, The Counsel Podcast

Mel is the Senior Legal Counsel at Megaport Limited, a global technology company founded in Brisbane, Australia, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2015 and now is in the ASX 200. She has worked in house for seven years across multiple industries such as aviation, infrastructure, financial services and now, cloud computing.

Mel has previously been awarded the Lawyers Weekly Corporate Counsel 30 Under 30 Award. She is a passionate advocate for all things in-house and shares career insights for law students and graduates on Instagram @theinhouselawyer. She has served as a Member of the Queensland Law Society's In-House Committee and as the In-House Advisor to the Women Lawyers Association Queensland.

Mel is a "recovering perfectionist" who believes that done is better than perfect. She launched Counsel, a self-made podcast about in-house lawyer life, during COVID-19 Lockdown. It has been downloaded over 24,000 times and reaches an audience in 16 countries.

Melanie Smith

Legal Counsel - Litigation, Lake Macquarie City Council

Melanie is an inhouse lawyer for the Council of the City of Lake Macquarie. She advises on local government projects, governance, property and regulatory matters, and represents Council in litigation and prosecution proceedings.

Melanie is a facilitator of business improvement, both within her own organisation and the wider legal community.  Her expertise in this arena is founded on her interest in client-centred design, technology and innovation within the legal industry.

Christine Zhong

Co-Founder and Director, BotL

Christine is one of the Co-Founders and Directors of legal tech-ed start-up BotL, where she oversees the unique Law Tech Clinic programs in partnership with Monash University and firms such as Lander & Rogers and Maddocks. She is passionate about developing hands-on initiatives that equip law students with not only tangible tech skills, but also the innovative mindset to become the next generation of change-makers in the industry. After realising how difficult it can be for students to gain experience in the legal tech space, Christine and the BotL team decided to create programs for students to develop practical expertise in no-code app building and design thinking.

Christine is a fifth year Bachelor of Laws / Arts (Honours) student at Monash University, with commercial experience at Clayton Utz, Moray & Agnew and Unfair Dismissal Experts. She was also the Assistant Director of Consulting at Impetus, where she developed a keen interest in developing strategies to assist social enterprises in achieving their goals. Beyond her work, Christine is a major foodie, avid podcast listener, and coffee drinker. She is also a proud first-generation Chinese-Australian and a strong advocate for diversity in the legal profession.