About Us

The Bosses:

Cathrine Burnett-Wake (MARN 0324641) wants to live in a world where the coffee is always good, there are no calories in cake and her belongings are not covered in little sticky finger marks.

As the Principal Registered Migration agent and a co-owner of the firm she is one busy lady in high demand. With over 17-years of migration law experience, she’s pretty much seen it all. Her nickname in the office is ‘Migration Oracle’. She’s renowned for her solution driven thinking and taking on complex migration cases that would leave others trembling in the corner.

In her spare time, when she’s not outfitted in her various power suits battling it out with the authorities, you can find her marveling in the wonder of her 5 and 7-year old sons, baking delicious cakes or drinking copious amounts of coffee with her husband as they discuss how to solve all the world problems. She's also busy completing her Master of Laws at the Australian National University.

In her other spare-spare time, you may also find her volunteering as a Registered Migration Agent at Casey Cardinia Legal Service, or producing a short film such as her latest venture Nazaneen.

If you’re after someone to be on your side that is not afraid to stand up and challenge the authorities, all whilst delivering exceptional customer focused results (she may even bake you a cake!), then she’s the Migration Agent for you.

Owen Harris (MARN 0851294) wants to live in a world where Cathrine does not nag him and he always has a hot cup of tea and a jar of jellybeans within arms reach.

He’s the Principal Solicitor and co-owner of the firm. He’s also the most academic person any of us know. He is Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Canberra, and upon last count he had a collection of 5 degrees - next stop PhD. We’re pretty sure he just wants to get the letters ‘Dr.’ in front of his name as he heard once ‘Doctors’ always get upgraded on flights. He commutes a lot between the Melbourne and Canberra offices, so getting a PhD sounds like a good idea even if it is just for the travel perks. A glutton for academic punishment he is also a sessional lecturer at UC for the Juris Doctor program.

Aside from being very well educated, he’s worked on some high profile and interesting cases, such as acting in our recent win as the instructing Solicitor in Slipper v Turner [2015] ACTSC 27 (26 February 2015). His areas of interest are Criminal, Family and Immigration law.

Owen is definitely the lawyer you want on your side. He is a quiet achiever - tenacious, pragmatic and results driven. He works hard for his clients and never gives up. If you read some of our testimonials you’ll get a true sense of the dedication he has towards his work and clients. He is also good fellow citizen volunteering his time at the ACT Law Society Legal Advice Bureau.

When he is not in the office, or studying or teaching, you’ll find him spending time with a very, very patient and understanding wife Karen (who now that all the children have left home has taken a sudden interest in her iPad). On the occasions he spends time with his 5 adult children and 2 grandchildren (most of whom have sensibly moved to Melbourne to live), he’ll probably be telling them ‘Dad jokes’.

In his spare time, Owen has no spare time...

The Legal Eagles:

Shereen El-ali (MARN 1570601) wants to live in a world where she is the first female President of Australia and Amal Clooney is her BFF.

She is one of the firm’s Immigration Lawyers, and a brilliant one to boot. They say that the pen is mightier than the sword and this is very true when it comes to Shereen and her written word battles with the authorities. She is very skilful with her pen, or keyboard as is the case here. On numerous occasions the authorities have complemented the high professional standard of her submissions. As the true romantic she is, her favourite visas to work on are Partner visas. Who doesn’t love a good love story eh?

When she is not busy meeting with clients, or preparing her keyboard for battle she can be found at Chadstone with her sister shopping for shoes or peering into the window of Tiffany & Co.

In addition to her already mentioned skills (being a brilliant Immigration Lawyer and an excellent shoe and window shopper), she is fluent in Arabic and can make a pretty decent cup of tea too.

Ross Wilde (MARN 0427632) wants to live in a world where the Migration Act and Regulations have undergone a re-write and where government follows proper Administrative procedures at all times.

He is a qualified lawyer and consults to the firm. Although we don’t see as much of him as we’d like to these days, as he’s semi-retired, his experience and wealth of knowledge are invaluable.

With an impressive career spanning nearly 50 years much of it at a senior Government level in the interpretation and administration of a wide range of Australian Government legislation, regulations and policy. He has experience in the legislative process, government policy development and decision-making, in the provision of legal advice in constitutional, government and administrative law matters, and in the conduct of appeals in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Federal Court and the High Court of Australia. As a former member of the Migration Review Tribunal, Ross dealt with a wide range of visa classes and associated migration matters.

It was earlier mentioned that Cathrine was a ‘Migration Oracle’. Ross could be described as a ‘Migration God’. It’s a pity we can’t convince him to work more and come out of semi-retirement.

Ross can on occasion be overheard telling a ‘Dad joke’ too, although much less frequently than Owen.

Canberra RMAs

Bronwyn Huntley (MARN 1684691) wants to live in a world where she can drive fast cars without having to worry about the maintenance costs.
She is our newest Registered Migration Agent but has been assisting with visa applications and running our Canberra office since February 2014. She loves nothing more that crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s on all paperwork. She is tasked not only with assisting clients and managing the Canberra office, but also using her enthusiasm for exercise to power walk with Owen round Lake Burley Griffin regularly.
In her spare time she loves nothing more than to spend time with her 3 children and husband and the occasional hot chocolate with her friends while they complete their latest puzzle."

The invaluable support team:

Helen Burnett wants to live in a world where Cathrine gets her the accounts on time every month.
[*edit from Cathrine – Sorry mum. I’m busy… running a business and being a brilliant Migration Agent and all…
*edit from Helen – Just because I’m your mother and I work with you does not mean you can be tardy with getting the accounts to me. They are very important!
*edit from Cathrine – Yes mum. You’re totally right. I’ll try harder next month to get them to you on time...]

She is our in-house qualified accountant, and as you’ve probably guessed Cathrine’s mum.

When Helen isn’t being the ‘best in-house accountant ever’ making sure our books balance, our trust accounts are in order, the BAS are completed and we’ve paid the tax man on time, you’ll find her pottering around on her 14-acres and spending time with her husband, 3 daughters and 6 grandchildren.

[*Cathrine hopes her mum notices the reference ‘best in-house accountant ever’ and will be less cross with her next time the accounts are late.]

Helen doesn’t let the owners get a big head when they do well, always reminding them that they should be doing better on the expense side.

Krystal Curley wants to live in a world where husbands finish the building projects they start and children would understand there is a life without wifi. She is the face of Harris Wake greeting clients in the Dandenong office. Krystal has many years’ experience as a legal secretary and receptionist, and is also qualified to be an enrolled nurse. Like her Dad Owen, she enjoys a good cup of tea. When she isn’t doing the school run, Krystal can be found sorting out their new home.

Daphne Cockerill wants to live in a world where she gets a dollar every time Owen sneaks sweets when Bronwyn is not watching.

After deciding accounting wasn’t enough to keep her mentally challenged, she is completing her Juris Doctorate at UC and has the (mis)fortune of having Owen as her lecturer. Daphne is fluent in several languages including her native Mandarin and Cantonese. She works for us part-time when she isn’t auditing government departments’ books.

When she is not working, studying or picking on Owen, you will find her enjoying coastal trips with her amazing husband and making new discoveries in the world of online shopping (the two are not mutually exclusive).