our People

Rhys Bower

My path to starting a boutique law firm in regional Australia has been long, windy and unorthodox. When I was younger I was always going to be an engineer, but studied finance and business instead because it was a shorter course. A career advising state treasurers and federal ministers followed. During that time I discovered that law has a similar appeal as engineering.  It’s technical, it’s about building things, risk, analysis and creativity. So I went back to school to start a second career.

My legal career has been varied: I represented the federal and state governments while working as a lawyer for top tier firm Clayton Utz; lectured in law at the Australian National University; ran a youth focused community legal centre; was an editor of the Federal Law Review and have been published myself in a legal academic journal. I then moved to Regional Australia where I have been practising as a solicitor since 2012.

I am driven by a simple fact: I can’t accept the status quo. There is always a way to make it or do it better. And I’m not alone. Wagga Wagga (and regional Australia generally) is a hotbed of interesting individuals, businesses and organisations doing it better, making it better and causing a ruckus, at a level that rivals the big cities.


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Rhys

Nick Wood

My career in the law started with my thirst for knowledge.  After leaving school I became determined to find a career in which I was continually learning new things.  Being a solicitor afforded me that and more. It gives me the chance to constantly learn new things, to challenge myself and to help others.

In 2007, I was fortunate to receive a clerkship with a local law firm. I studied law through the Legal Professional Admission Board while working full time at offices in Wagga Wagga, Coolamon and Junee. In August 2013, I was admitted as a lawyer. In February 2017, with my colleague and friend, Rhys Bower, I made the decision to establish a new firm, Bower Wood Lawyers.

My practice focuses on estate planning, estate administration, rural and commercial property transactions and business transactions and advice.  I pride myself on being able to find solutions for clients and helping them understand how and why the solution works.

My fundamental goal is to have strong relationships with my clients. I want to know who they are, what drives them, what stresses them and what they want to achieve.  My job is to help them succeed.  I do this, not just by solving their immediate problem, but by helping them see and understand other risks and opportunities around them.

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Nick

Ellie Cook

I was born and raised on a farm just on the outskirts of Wagga Wagga. I attended a local high school before moving to the South Coast to study at the University of Wollongong. I graduated with a Bachelor of Laws and Communication and Media Studies.

I began my legal career when I returned home to Wagga in 2019 and joined the team at Bower Wood Lawyers. I am passionate about creating strong relationships with clients and being able to break down complex legal issues for them. The law should be accessible to everyone and being able to assist people with their challenges is rewarding.

When I’m not working, I enjoy socialising with friends, spending time outdoors and travelling to new places – You’ll find me any place that has great wine or coffee.

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Ellie

Sam McFarlane

I’m Sam and I’m the Business Manager here at Bower Wood Lawyers. If you’re hearing from me, it’s usually because you’re paying us, or we’re paying you. Mainly though, I enjoy keeping the team ticking along smoothly. I help out by making sure everyone has what they need to provide the kind of service we pride ourselves on. Whether that is writing processes, looking after our accounts or making sure bills are paid and the lights stay on!

I have a passion for organisational psychology – I enjoy learning about what makes people (including myself!) tick and how that can be best fostered in the workplace.

Outside of the office, I enjoy going to the gym, spending time with family and travelling our beautiful country with my two daughters and husband Benny.

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Sam

Cass Harris

I’ve been with Bower Wood since 2018 working predominately in conveyancing and estate administration. I joined the team here after working in a similar role with another local firm and my background before that is in the real estate industry.

I’m process (and coffee) driven and I enjoy making sure my clients, banks and agents are all on the same page to ensure smooth transactions.

I’d love to tell you what I get up to in my spare time however my daughter Willa ensures I don’t have to worry too much about having any!

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Cass

Hayley Challender

I graduated an Arts/Law Degree in 2016 and spent most of the next five years working at the State Coroners Courts of NSW and Victoria. I enjoyed the pressure, high-impact outcomes, and policy-driven work. My passion and expertise became helping the community by judicious inquiry and analysis.

I was born in Wagga and my family moved around Australia and internationally. I have always dreamt of belonging to one place, in the country. When my parents moved back to the area, my partner and I began to talk about building a life here too. If I was going to start again – one last time – I needed to do it right. I am so grateful that there was a space for me at Bower Wood Lawyers when we re-located in 2022. The team is smart, kind and ridiculously fun.

When I am not at work, I love being outdoors on my parents’ farm, (also indoors by their fire – gin in-hand), reading and playing netball.

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Hayley

Naomi Wyles

I graduated from High School in Leeton in 2019 and moved to Wagga in 2021 to work with Bower Wood as a law clerk.

My role is mainly to assist our professional staff across all areas of practice as well as help the administration team when they’re under the pump.

I’m currently studying law remotely through Charles Sturt University and I love that I have the opportunity to learn on the job at the same time. I enjoy assisting the lawyers with legal research and making sure clients are kept up to date.

When I’m not working or studying, you’ll find me running around the lake or travelling to the coast to visit family and friends.

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Jo Wilson

My name is Jo and I am one of the newest staff to the Bower Wood team however I have over 17 years of experience working in legal firms and over 35 years of administration experience including contract work in Cloncurry North West QLD and Mackay QLD.

I enjoy being the ‘Director of First Impressions’ and the first point of contact for our clients and new enquiries. I also enjoy being the mother hen of the team ensuring they have a comfortable and warming environment to work in each day.

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my beautiful grandchildren and spoiling them much to the frustration of their parents; hey, what are grandparents for…

I also enjoy reading, travelling and playing (bad) golf.

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Jo

Ash Robertson

Hi, my name is Ashleigh Robertson and I have been working with Bower Wood Lawyers for the last 3 years.

I have a passion for customer service and making sure the team are happy, healthy and on time.

Outside of work, I’m either playing netball, catching up with family and friends or helping (or hindering!) my husband on the farm.

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Ash

Danielle Wait

I hold a Bachelor of Business with a double major in Marketing and Management and have experience in business management, marketing and human resources. A couple of years ago I decided to make a career change to pursue my interest in law and commenced a Bachelor of Laws through University of New England.

My current role as a Paralegal has a strong focus on supporting the property part of our practice and I enjoy working with our clients to ensure that they have a stress-free experience.

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Danielle