The Bar Association is delighted to announce that Naomi Wootton is the first recipient of the Katrina Dawson Award for 2019. Naomi is currently employed as Associate to the Hon Justice Virginia Bell AC, and prior to that she served as Tipstaff and Research Director in the Chambers of the Hon Tom Bathurst AC, Chief Justice of NSW. She was admitted as a lawyer of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in September 2017 and passed the Bar Exam in February of this year.
Naomi graduated from the Australian National University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours and the University Medal, and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Arabic language. In 2015 she was awarded the Ethel Tory Language Scholarship to study Bahasa Indonesia in Java. She was awarded numerous academic prizes, including the Supreme Court Judges' Prize for the best overall Honours results upon graduation. She has since returned to the ANU as a sessional academic, and currently teaches in Corporations Law.
Naomi has demonstrated her commitment to social justice in numerous ways: by serving as a volunteer solicitor at the Marrickville Legal Centre; as a tutor to Indigenous law students at ANU’s Tjabal Centre and as a teaching assistant at a school in the Northern Territory working with Indigenous students from remote communities.
Like many who have contemplated coming to the Bar, Naomi is mindful of the daunting costs, especially for someone coming from public employment and at an early stage in her legal career. However, the Katrina Dawson Award will be crucial to assisting with the cost of the Bar Practice Course and the initial costs of practice.
‘I have been privileged throughout my life to receive scholarships that have enabled me to engage with education in a way that would not otherwise have been possible’, Naomi said.
‘One of the things which has drawn me to a career at the Bar is the fact that it is a place that is open to anyone, regardless of background, as long as they have the capacity for hard work’ she said. ‘I am mindful that receipt of this award is an investment in my career, and I look forward to having the capacity to repay it through service to the NSW Bar in the future'.
Naomi is grateful for the many great traditions of the New South Wales Bar, particularly its collegiality and the offers from senior barristers to assist in finding chambers or to act as tutors.
In the years ahead, Naomi hopes to participate in the Duty Barrister Scheme and to serve on the Bar News Committee. ‘I have already learnt a great deal from the authors who share their knowledge in Bar News and had the privilege of being a co-author in that publication’, she said.