Indigenous law students will now be recognised, along with Indigenous lawyers, by the 2011 Indigenous Legal Professional of the Year Award and inaugural Indigenous Law Student of the Year Prize.
The Indigenous Legal Professional of the Year Award goes to an outstanding Indigenous lawyer who has made a special contribution to the rights of Indigenous people or shown exceptional commitment to providing legal representation, advice or assistance.
Last years award went to Indigenous barrister Tony McAvoy, a descendant of the Wiri people of central Queensland, who has a significant pro bono practice and runs a mentoring scheme for Indigenous law students.
With 22 years experience in native title law, criminal law, land rights legislation and human rights, McAvoy said winning the award was a significant milestone for him and his family - and humbling to be recognised amongst his peers.
The awards are open to any Indigenous person currently admitted as a solicitor or barrister within Australia, or enrolled in a law degree in Australia for the new student award.
The Law Council of Australia (LCA) assists in the selection process for both awards by recommending nominations to the Attorney-General's Department.
The law student prize recognises outstanding academic achievements by Indigenous law students who have also made notable contributions to their community.
Entrants for this new prize are asked to submit an academic transcript, CV, supporting written reference and statement of aspiration to be in the running for $2,500 to further their studies.
LCA president Alexander Ward said the awards highlight how much the profession values the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lawyers and that the addition of the student prize would help the next generation of Indigenous lawyers.
Nominations for both awards close on 4 July 2011.