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NSW Bar Katrina Dawson Award

We are thrilled that two more talented women have been awarded the Katrina Dawson Award by the NSW Bar this year. Please join us in congratulating Naomi Wootton (May 2019) and Aleksandra Ilic (September 2019). We look forward to seeing what they achieve at the Bar.

Naomi Wootton is a University Medallist from the Australian National University, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons I) and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Arabic language. She received many academic prizes over the course of her studies, and was also awarded the Supreme Court Judges’ Prize for the best overall result in the Honours program, and the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and Australian Government Solicitor Prize for the best overall results on graduation. She was admitted as a lawyer of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in September 2017, and passed the NSW Bar Exam in February 2019. She is currently employed as associate to the Hon Justice Virginia Bell AC at the High Court of Australia. Previous roles include Research Director in the Chambers of the Chief Justice of New South Wales, the Hon T F Bathurst AC, and Tipstaff to the Chief Justice.

Giving back has always been a passion of Naomi’s, starting with her work as a teaching assistant in the Northern Territory with indigenous students from remote communities, then as a tutor in law at the Tjabal Centre at the Australian National University. Since her admission as a lawyer, Naomi has volunteered at the Marrickville Legal Centre.

Naomi said this in her Award application:

“While I did not have the privilege of meeting Katrina, I have indirectly derived great personal benefit from the example she has set for women to thrive at the NSW Bar, particularly the commercial bar.”

Aleksandra Ilic migrated from Serbia in 2001 and, like so many before her, worked long hours and made many sacrifices to establish herself in Australia, “The challenges I have overcome are part of my story, of which I am proud. Every step I have taken in my studies and career has been in furtherance of a dream I have had since I was a Year 7 student whose English was still a work-in-progress and who had not quite settled into this new country which was overwhelming in its opportunities – the dream of becoming a barrister”, she said.

Aleksandra was dux of Liverpool Girls High School in 2008. She attended the University of Western Sydney, from which she graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours and the University Medal) and a Bachelor of Arts (Distinction), majoring in Philosophy. Among her various prizes she received the ‘Best Speaker’ award in 2011 and 2012 at the Robert Hayes Mooting Championship. In 2016 she was awarded the Ross Waite Parsons Postgraduate Coursework Scholarship to study a Master of Laws at the University of Sydney, from which she graduated with Distinction in May 2018.

Aleksandra was admitted to practise in the Supreme Court of New South Wales in October 2014. Since February 2015 she has worked as a solicitor at King & Wood Mallesons in their Dispute Resolution Practice. In July last year Aleksandra was promoted to Senior Associate at the firm.

Aleksandra is determined to give back to the community and during her time at KWM has been active in promoting reconciliation, mentoring and pro bono assistance, particularly through the Downing Centre Duty Solicitors Scheme.

Aleksandra will join the May 2020 Bar Practice Course and will read with Justin Williams and James Arnott. In the years ahead, Aleksandra hopes to participate in the Duty Barrister Scheme and to serve on the Bar Association’s Diversity and Equality Committee and the First Nations Committee.

“The Award resonates in a really strong way because in my career I have heard a lot about Katrina and her work, which has really shaped my career … It’s nice to see the legacy she’s left behind, certainly at Mallesons but I’m sure more broadly. I’m in a really privileged position and it’s absolutely imperative I give back … that’s something Katrina and I shared.”

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