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Michelle Dawson



+61 2 4911 5451 +61 478 330 087

Michelle has advised and represented clients in workplace relations legal matters since 2003, becoming renowned for her delivery of practical and outcome-focused advice and representation in this space.    


Michelle’s practice is predominantly in the employment, industrial relations and discrimination areas and she has significant experience providing advice to clients on all legal aspects of employment, industrial, workplace, anti-discrimination and migration. She has worked with clients across a range of different sectors, including the Victorian Water Sector, conservation and research, not for profit, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, transport and energy, food and beverage, mining, construction and professional services.

A highly experienced practitioner with over 24 years’ experience in the legal industry, Michelle joined Moray & Agnew’s Newcastle team as a partner in November 2020.

Outside of her extensive legal knowledge and experience, Michelle’s clients most value her no-nonsense, straight-talking, easy-to-understand, practical and outcome-focused advice and representation.

Michelle’s work to ensure an in depth understanding of her many clients and their industries, competitors, markets, businesses, expectations, reputations, cultures and values enables her to assist her clients by offering solutions and strategies most suited to their overall and broader circumstances and needs.

Michelle prides herself on these significant points of difference by reference to other employment lawyers and her extensive client base of principally small to medium employers, spanning various States and sectors, is testament to how valuable and important these things are to the business community. 

Michelle is also an accomplished advocate, regularly appearing and advocating in matters for clients in a variety of courts and tribunals nationally.


In 2020 Michelle successfully defended a complex industrial dispute arbitration proceeding brought by the CFMMEU, obtaining a very favourable result for the client, a major Newcastle mining and construction sector employer.

Michelle successfully ran the series of significant 2011/2012 Fair Work Commission, Federal Magistrates Court and Federal Court of Appeal cases in the matter of Frankston City Council v Cugura. The decisions in these cases paved the way in relation to, and are still regularly cited and relied upon in, matters pertaining to the issues of multiple actions (under s727) and costs (under s570) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).


Publication and Papers
Journal Publications:
  • Employment Law Bulletin 2016: High Court finds Full Federal Court's construction of the sham contracting provision in Fair Work Ombudsman v Quest South Perth Holdings too narrow
  • Employment Law Bulletin 2015: High Court to determine whether the Full Federal Court applied too narrow a construction of the sham contracting provision in Fair Work Ombudsman v Quest South Perth Holdings Pty Ltd
  • Employment Law Bulletin 2015, Volume 21 Issue 5: Sham contracts and the construction of s 357 of the Fair Work Act 2009 in the context of ‘Odco’ (triangular) systems of contracting: Full Federal Court in Fair Work Ombudsman v Quest South Perth Holdings Pty Ltd
  • Employment Law Bulletin 2014: There's a workplace right, right? The adverse action provisions in the Fair Work Act in relation to workplace rights
  • Law Institute Journal, June 2011 85(6) LIJ, p. 40: Serious Misconduct: Executive Contracts in the Wake of Carter and Guthrie (co-authored with Sam Eichenbaum). 
Other significant publications:
  • The Franchise Guide 2016, Chapter 10 – Employing Staff in Australia: Know Your Obligations.
Awards / Accolades

Finalist – Partner of the Year – Lawyers Weekly Annual Women in Law Awards 2018.



  • Bachelor of Laws, 2006, University of New England
  • Bachelor of Legal & Justice Studies, 2002, Southern Cross University
  • Associate Degree in Law, 2000, Southern Cross University

Specialist Accreditations

  • Accredited Specialist in Workplace Relations, 2012


  • Australian Human Resources Institute (CAHRI)
  • Business Hunter
  • Law Institute of Victoria
  • Law Institute of Victoria Accredited Specialisation Scheme – Workplace Relations Advisory Committee
  • Law Society of New South Wales