The Victorian Women Lawyers and Women Barristers Association last night presented the fourth Women Lawyers Achievement Awards (Victoria) in recognition of outstanding women lawyers who have achieved professional excellence and have paved the way for other women lawyers.
The evening began with a keynote address from former lawyer and ABC "Four Corners" investigative journalist Liz Jackson, with Justice Chris Maxwell presenting the awards for experienced practitioners to Solicitor-General Pamela Tate SC and Jane Dixon SC.
Tate was the first female Solicitor-General and regularly appears with women juniors in the Supreme and High Courts in cases of national importance.
Dixon was the first female to practise in criminal law at Galbally & O'Brien and has instructed in high profile cases including the Russell St bombing and Turkish embassy bombing.
The "Rising Star" award was presented to Simone Cusack who is a lawyer, advocate and author, with expertise in women's rights, equality and non-discrimination law, gender stereotyping and international and domestic human rights law.
Last night Victorian Women Lawyers also presented its 2009-2010 Community Justice Award to Fatoum Souki.
The Community Justice Award is given in recognition of a student or recently admitted lawyer who, on a pro bono or volunteer basis, demonstrates a commitment to issues related to women and justice.
Souki is a volunteer with the Western Suburbs Legal Service and was on a committee to promote positive relations between the Australian Federal Police and Muslim women and youth.
"It is critical to recognise excellent women who are leaders in the law, as well as those who are showing early promise and encouraging others to join the profession," said Victorian Women Lawyers Convenor, Astrid Haban-Beer.
"These award winners and the impressive pool of nominees have all significantly contributed to the profession. They have also used their skills and energies to assist other women lawyers and women in the wider community."