Autonomy First Lawyers

Empowering vulnerable decision makers

Autonomy First Lawyers is a multi-disciplinary, cognitive responsive professional practice, bringing together a unique team of experienced trusts and estates law, business law and clinical neuropsychology experts.

We are a private client law firm, acting for individuals and their businesses. We provide the legal and clinical advice that helps individuals and families make important financial, legal, health and welfare decisions. We help legal, medical, financial and other professionals reduce risk to themselves and to vulnerable clients when decision making ability is in doubt. We are collaborators in service of our clients’ interests, working at the convergence of:

  • Family, wealth and finance
  • Neuropsychology and law

How we help

Prestige Inhome Care drop in event on getting the right legal representation for estates law

We are a private client law firm, acting for individuals and their businesses. We support family operations, care delivery, and both personal and family transitions, by helping with your:

Areas of expertise

Professional in Private Client Services meeting with clients and the risk of abuse

We have deep expertise in the following fields of law:
Property l Commercial Law l Dispute Resolution l Litigation l Trusts and Estates Practice l Migration Law.
Our Capacity & Capability Clinic is a multidisciplinary professional practice providing a medico-legal capacity and capability assessment service.

Meet the team

Collaborate and Grow 2022

Michael Perkins is a leading trusts, estates and private client practice lawyer, author and educator. Jeremy Duffy is a contracted Principal Solicitor with over 38 years of experience, based in SA. Clarence Leung is a senior lawyer experienced in trusts, commercial law, property law, litigation and migration law. Zabina Naem is an Associate Lawyer, experienced in Trusts, Estates and Property Law. San Shim specialises in Employment Law, Corporate and Commercial law, and now Wills and Estates. Dr Jane Lonie is a consultant clinical neuropsychologist.

Capacity & Capability Clinic

Meeting at the Capacity and Capability Clinic

The Capacity & Capability Clinic is a multidisciplinary professional practice providing a medico-legal capacity and capability assessment service. Bringing together legal and clinical expertise, the Capacity and Capability Clinic helps and supports the autonomy of individuals and their families when they need to make important and often complex decisions…

Who we help

Family on beach

We help:

  • Individuals
  • Their family, supporters and representatives
  • Community representatives and services.

Our clients have connections within many jurisdictions, including: United Kingdom, Canada, United States of America, Hong Kong, Singapore.

Expert articles

​Our team are all highly experienced in their fields and publish widely. In our Blog, you can find case studies, opinion pieces and other articles around the theme we are all so passionate about. We work closely with like-minded organisations in our Community of Practice and welcome guest bloggers to submit their articles here. You can also receive our content by following our social media channels or subscribing to our newsletter.

Downloadable resources

We are pleased to offer you a set of free downloadable resources to make it easier access the support we can provide.
You can choose to use some resources to give to clients when they brief you about their situation. Other resources can be used to develop your skills and guide the conversations you have with your clients, referrers and collaborators.


The Autonomy First team are active members of our professional community and are often asked to present at various events. You can see the calendar of forthcoming conferences and seminars summarised at the bottom of this page and read full details on our Events page.

Subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on LinkedIn for the latest news about upcoming events.

How we work

We implement the National Decision Making Principles in our work.


We help mitigate the risk of abusive or coercive conduct in the administration of a person’s affairs wherever appropriate.


We practice the ethics of care and help clients implement the ethics of ageing.


We help support and safeguard the will and preference of our clients.


We work collaboratively, using common processes and practices to reach a common goal for our clients.


We advise individuals, families, organisations, entrepreneurs, start-ups and established businesses in many industries and sectors.

Autonomy First Pty Ltd, our law firm’s parent company, is an employer Partner of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners). STEP has over 100 branches worldwide. STEP’s primary focus is on professional development and standards for practitioners advising on care and support for vulnerable clients, family businesses, family offices, wills, estates, wealth administration and conservation and succession planning. We work closely with STEP’s Employer Partner members who are part of the Autonomy First multidisciplinary Community of Practice.

STEP Employer Partner Australia

Upcoming Events



ICWA Collaborative Leaders Course

29 May – 1 June – Providing delegates with an in-depth knowledge of how to work collaboratively. Following the structured approach of ISO 44001 the delegate will be equipped to facilitate its implementation, and if required, progress their organisation to, ISO 44001certification.



Understand Death Better

Autonomy First Lawyers is delighted to sponsor Understand Death Better, an event in North Sydney by GoodGrief!, to answer your questions and help you understand death better



Step Australia National Incapacity Conference

This will be STEP Australia’s first National Incapacity Conference,  bringing together leading minds in mental capacity from across Australia and beyond.



Legalwise Seminar: NDIS Case Update and Legal Obligations

This will be a Zoom online event taking place in June 2023. Michael Perkins and Dr Jane Lonie will be presenting.

Thought Leadership

EOFY Charitable Donations: What Do You Want Your Social Impact to be?

EOFY Charitable Donations: What Do You Want Your Social Impact to be?

As June 30th approaches, we are often asked about charitable donations. Earlier this month, Philanthropy Australia released a submission to the Productivity Commission, entitled A Strategy to Double Giving by 2030. Australia, for all its per capita wealth, compares badly with our international counterparts…

read more
Can I write my own will?

Can I write my own will?

Can I write my own will? Yes, says Michael Perkins, but the Courts are littered with examples of where people on their own have not completed the will making in a way that fully delivers the outcomes they seek.
Expensive litigation and disappointed beneficiaries are generally the result and generalised precedents may not provide the best outcome. Learn more…

read more
A trigger for concern

A trigger for concern

In this article, reproduced with permission from the STEP Journal, Michael Perkins provides a high‑level introduction to a selection of relevant themes around managing client vulnerability, with a focus on the distinction between vulnerability and decision-making abilities. This article was first published in the STEP Journal: Michael Perkins, ‘A trigger for concern’, STEP Journal (Vol31 Iss2) pp.73-75.

read more

Empowering vulnerable decision makers | Helping safeguard your will and preferences

Who we work with

Relationships Australia NSW
Claimright logo
Financial clarity logo
Good Grief logo
ExSitu logo
New Way to Stay logo
Prestige in home care logo
SMSF logo half size
Capacity Australia Small
Fit Minds Australia
Fit Minds Australia
Step Australia Logo
KMT Partners small logo
Institute of Collaborative Working Australia

“Michael is an experts expert – extremely knowledgable in estate planning and all of the legal issues that surround such a complex area – Michael is also able to explain that area of the law in a practical and commercial manner to clients and advisers alike. Michael has helped me with numerous clients to design strategic and practical solutions that add real practical value.”

— Craig West, CEO & Founder at Succession Plus