Special Counsel
As a special counsel in Cooper Grace Ward’s property, planning and environment team, Diane provides a wide range of legal advice and support to developers, local governments and statutory authorities.

Diane is a multidisciplinary lawyer who specialises in the areas of planning, local government law, environmental law and sustainability, and property development.

As a special counsel in Cooper Grace Ward’s property, planning and environment team, Diane provides a wide range of legal advice and support to developers, local governments and statutory authorities.

Diane has more than 15 years’ experience gained through legal roles both in private practice and in a major in-house legal department.

She has regularly appeared in the Planning and Environment Court, undertaking numerous litigious matters on behalf of development corporations, local governments and special interest groups. She has also drafted and reviewed planning instruments, local laws and many types of agreements and deeds for local authorities in south east and rural Queensland.

In addition, Diane has extensive experience in managing the development approvals process for major infrastructure and development projects.

Prior to joining Cooper Grace Ward, Diane held a senior legal role for 10 years within Urban Utilities, the statutory authority responsible for the delivery of retail water supply and wastewater services across five local government areas in South East Queensland.

During this time, Diane provided complex and strategic legal advice to the organisation’s board, CEO and executive leadership team. She was well regarded for her ability to provide legal guidance that facilitated strategic decision making and brings this approach to her day-to-day work with clients of Cooper Grace Ward.

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  • Solicitor – Supreme Court of Queensland and High Court of Australia
  • Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) – Griffith University
  • Bachelor of Environmental Science – Griffith University
  • Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice, Skills and Ethics – Griffith University

  • Personally leading the negotiation and drafting of more than $400m of infrastructure agreements and water infrastructure agreements for local government authorities, statutory authorities and development companies.
  • Drafting various planning instruments including infrastructure contributions schedules, planning scheme policies, charges schedules, council local laws, planning scheme amendments.
  • Advising and acting in numerous litigation matters before Queensland’s Planning and Environment Court for local government, development corporations, and individuals.
  • Advising on an extensive range of matters including delegations of powers, planning scheme provisions, statutory interpretation and proposed development projects for local government, development corporations, and individuals.
  • Providing advice to many of Queensland’s local governments in relation to planning, local government and infrastructure law matters.

In-house experience – Legal counsel and senior legal counsel at Urban Utilities (2012-2021)

  • Project team member and lead legal advisor of team formed to establish and develop new business capability being Urban Utilities’ role as an approval authority for water connections.
  • Lead legal negotiator and contract drafter of infrastructure agreements and water infrastructure agreements ($400m+ in total).
  • Legal lead on numerous successful multi-million dollar appeals against Urban Utilities decisions made as the approval authority for water connections.
  • Provision of complex and strategic legal advice and services to Urban Utilities’ Board, Chief Executive Officer, Executive Leadership Team and operational staff on a broad range of operational, commercial and governance matters across the business, in a legally complex and heavily regulated environment.
  • Project team member and lead legal advisor on major review of the key legal instrument being the Water Netserv Plan to consolidate Urban Utilities’ planning and approval processes separate from the participating local governments.
  • Specialist in dispute resolution, particularly in relation to matters brought before the Planning and Environment Court.
  • Lead officer undertaking organisation wide consultation process to update of delegations of authority delivering greater flexibility and empowerment while maintaining accountability to the business.