Thursday, July 20, 2017

Why Harrington Family Lawyers are the leading surrogacy lawyers in Australia



Many years ago I was told by a marketing guru that there were two effective ways to market a professional services firm – to say that it was:

·         better or
·         different.

The focus of most firms rather than saying that they were different, is to say that they were better or leading.  These terms are often impossible to verify or quantify and to that extent are meaningless.

We say that we are different and better and leading.  We are keen to ensure that everyone’s surrogacy journey, whether intended parents or surrogate and her parent, is the cheapest, quickest and above all stress-free journey that it can be. 

THE NUMBERS

Currently there are about 250 children born to Australian intended parents, whether within Australia or overseas.  In the 2016 calendar year we assisted in over 100 cases, or 36% of all Australian surrogacy cases, whether domestic or international. 

Quite simply, Australians trust Harrington Family Lawyers to advise them about surrogacy more than any other law firm.

SURROGACY

Surrogacy is part of our fertility law practice.

We don’t only practice in surrogacy when we do fertility law.  We have also acted in all types of fertility law cases including:

·         Posthumous use of sperm;

·         Advising IVF clinics and other industry members, such as egg banks and sperm banks about regulatory issues (which means we are across the fine print of regulation and practice Australia wide, and international issues);

·         Acting in donor cases – donor sperm, donor eggs and donor embryos and for recipients of donor sperm, donor eggs and donor embryos, including in cases involving sperm concerning private arrangements with all clinic sourced donors.


WHERE HAVE OUR CLIENTS COME FROM?

Our fertility law clients have come from throughout Australia – all eight States and Territories – both about domestic and international surrogacy; and at last count, 25 countries overseas:

The Americas

1
USA

2
Canada
Europe

3
Belgium

4
Denmark

5
France

6
Germany

7
Ireland

8
Netherlands

9
Russia

10
Switzerland

11
United Kingdom
Asia



12
China

13
Hong Kong

14
India

15
Indonesia

16
Japan

17
Malaysia

18
Philippines

19
Singapore

20
Thailand

21
United Arab Emirates
Oceania

22
New Caledonia

23
New Zealand

24
Papua New Guinea

25
Solomon Islands

LONG EXPERIENCE WITH SURROGACY MATTERS

My first surrogacy case was in 1988.  My partner Bruce Provan acted for intended parents who were prosecuted under the Surrogate Parenthood Act in the early 1990s.

A FAMILY LAW PERSPECTIVE

I and my two partners have been Accredited Family Law Specialists for many years.  In the case of Julie Harrington and I, we have been Accredited Specialists since 1996 and my partner Bruce Provan has been an Accredited Family Law Specialist since 1999.

We are concerned that the human rights of all involved, namely the surrogate, her partner (if any), their children, the donor and any partner, the intended parent or parents and above all the child the subject of the surrogacy arrangement – are protected and cherished. 

Both Julie Harrington and I have been Independent Children’s Lawyers for many years.  We are very much focused on the long term outcomes for children arising from surrogacy. 

We have pioneered surrogacy law.  Aside from being involved in some of the earliest interstate surrogacy arrangements, we:

·         made the successful submissions about when a child is conceived (at pregnancy not fertilisation of the egg) in a world first precedent in 2012;

·         have pioneered the registration of US surrogacy orders in Australia;

·         have pioneered innovative uses of surrogacy law not seen by others – in order to enable our clients to become parents.

WE HAVE BEEN RECOGNISED INTERNATIONALLY

I have presented at conferences and seminars concerns fertility law and surrogacy and have done so since late 2010 on average between 10 and 18 times a year.  These have ranged from very small events to speaking at international conferences.  I have spoken around the world, presenting to judges, other fertility lawyers, fertility doctors, nurses and embryologists.  Amongst these many presentations have included presentations in Australia:

·         Brisbane;
·         Gold Coast;
·         Hunter Valley;
·         Sydney;
·         Canberra;
·         Melbourne;
·         Adelaide;
·         Margaret River.

I am the only lawyer who has appeared in courts in four States (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia) to obtain surrogacy parentage orders.

The presentations internationally have happened on four continents including:

·         Anchorage, Alaska;
·         Canada (webinar);
·         Carlsbad, California;
·         Charleston, South Carolina;
·         Chicago;
·         Las Vegas;
·         San Francisco;
·         London;
·         Cape Town;
·         Hong Kong.

I have written numerous peer reviewed articles including:

·         Queensland Law Society;
·         Family Law Section, Law Council of Australia;
·         Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists;
·         American Society for Reproductive Medicine;
·         American Bar Association;
·         International Bar Association.

UNIVERSITY LECTURES

I have lectured undergraduate or post graduate students as a  guest lecturer in:


  • Brisbane
  • Cape Town
  • Hong Kong



I am a casual teacher at the University of New South Wales in its Masters of Reproductive Medicine.  I teach Ethics and Law in Reproductive Medicine.


WE HAVE MADE SUBMISSIONS THAT HAVE CHANGED THE LAW

Amongst our submissions, our written or oral submissions have caused the law to be altered:

·         In 2011 in Tasmania there were alterations to what became the Surrogacy Act 2012 as a result of evidence I gave to the Tasmanian Legislative Council, Government Administration Committee A in its surrogacy inquiry;

·         In 2015 in South Australia as a result of representations I made to the author of a bill amending laws concerning surrogacy – as acknowledged in Hansard;

·         In 2016 I gave expert evidence on Australian surrogacy law in a leading UK case – which ruled that UK law that prevented singles from obtaining surrogacy orders was incompatible with human rights law;

·         In 2017, South Australia amended its laws concerning surrogacy to allow gay and lesbian couples to undertake surrogacy, as a result of an inquiry to which I gave written and oral submissions in 2016 supporting that move.

·         Several of my submissions that I made to the House of Representatives surrogacy inquiries in 2015 and 2016 were accepted by that Committee in its report as to reforming our surrogacy laws.

MEDIA INTERVIEWS

I have been interviewed by most of Australian media including:

  • ABC TV and radio;
  • 7 Network;
  • 9 Network
  • The Project;
  • SBS World News; 
  • SBS Insight (2011 and 2014);
  • Sky News (Paul Murray live).

As well as:

·         Xinhua TV (China) (concerning adoption);
·         Deutsche Welle (Germany);
·         Fuji TV (Japan);
·         Russia Today (as to forced marriage);
·         The New York Times;
·         The Wall Street Journal;
·         The Guardian;
·         Phnom Penh Post;
·         The Cambodia Daily;
·         The Age;
·         Sydney Morning Herald;
·         Courier Mail;
·         The Australian;
·         The Western Australian,

As well as numerous radio stations in Australia and New Zealand.

I have been recognised internationally for my surrogacy work

Since 2012 I have been an international representative on the ART Committee of the American Bar Association.  Between 2011 and 2016 I was the principal advocate for and co-author of a draft policy by the American Bar Association concerning a Hague Surrogacy Convention.  That policy was adopted by the 400,000 member American Bar Association in February 2016 in Resolution 112b. 

In 2014 I was made a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, the leading group of family lawyers in the world.  I am a member of the Parentage/Surrogacy Project Committee.

I was the first international Fellow in 2014 of the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys, now the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys. I am the only Fellow in Australia.

WE ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT EQUAL RIGHTS

In 2015 I was awarded the LGBTIQ Activist of the Year.  In 2016 Harrington Family Lawyers received an Equity & Diversity Award from the Queensland Law Society for its role in championing women and LGBTI people including through what was described as the “pioneering” Australian gay and lesbian law blog.


In 2012/2013 I was the convener of Queenslanders for Equality, a community group which successfully fought suggested laws that proposed:

·         that non-biological mothers in  lesbian relationships not be recognised as parents;

·         that gay, lesbian and single intended parents be jailed for up to 3 years if they wished to pursue a surrogacy arrangement.

The law on these issues in Queensland remains non-discriminatory as a result of our efforts.

In September 2015 I spoke at the Brisbane Pride Rally and then was one of the leaders in the Brisbane Pride March. 

In August 2016 the Honourable Michael Kirby and I were the speakers at the 6th anniversary of the LGBTI Legal Service, held in the Banco Court of the Supreme Court of Queensland.  I had previously been a volunteer at that service, organised it in its early days and received the Rainbow Key Award from that service.

DON’T FORGET KAREN GOUGH!

I have been blessed that for the last 13 years Karen Gough has been my associate.  Karen has acted in surrogacy and fertility law matters since 2007, principally focusing on donor cases and domestic surrogacy arrangements including in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. She has played a key part in ensuring our clients' success when we have registered US surrogacy orders in Australia.

AND FINALLY…

We have a passion to ensure that people can become parents.  I have previously had my own infertility issues.  I am lucky to be blessed with two adult sons.  I know what it is to fear whether to ever become a parent.

My husband Mitchell and I are currently undertaking our own domestic surrogacy journey, so I can become a dad all over again.

I have seen IVF clinics and fertility doctors from the perspective of a consumer as well as that of a lawyer.

Nothing gives Karen or me greater joy than helping people become parents – except to meet the babies!

5 comments:

  1. As a surrogate mother, you should have certain protections in place. These protections must be clearly spelled out in a legal surrogacy contract. Areas that must be addressed include reimbursement for any expenses related to the pregnancy, insurance coverage, compensations and other specifics of surrogacy. In an independent surrogacy situation, these topics might not be addressed.

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  3. What is currently being done to allow singles the right to use surrogacy in SA?

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