Emerging Lawyer of the Year 2014
15th Jan 2015
In 2014, the Australian Lawyers Alliance presented its second annual Emerging Lawyer of the Year Award, which recognises an individual who demonstrates a dedication to social justice, who is within their first three years of practice and considered to be a future leader in the profession.
In 2014, the Emerging Lawyer of the Year Award was awarded to Benedict Coyne.
Benedict is a lawyer at Maurice Blackburn in Queensland. He initially began in the new Brisbane Class Actions department working on the Queensland floods class action and in the Social Justice Department, working on the famous baby Ferouz test case. He is currently on secondment in Personal Injuries at the Southport office on the Gold Coast.
In 2012, Benedict was elected as the Queensland State Convenor for the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR). He was subsequently elected as a National Committee Ordinary Member in 2013. In his capacity as State Convenor and National Committee Member, he has advocated for and promoted many human rights causes, including asylum seeker rights, abolishing the death penalty and opposing counter-terrorism legislation and forced sterilisation. Other initiatives he has spearheaded with ALHR include creating a ‘virtual placement unit’ with ALHR through Queensland University of Technology, starting a ‘Letters for Lawyers’ campaign, to advocate for persecuted human rights lawyers in other countries and more recently initiating and coordinating the new ALHR (federal) Human Rights Act subcommittee.
In 2012, he was Associate to the Hon. Justice Mordecai Bromberg at the Federal Court of Australia in Melbourne and assisted in drafting the judgment for the Eatock v Bolt racial discrimination class action.
In addition to his work at Maurice Blackburn and ALHR, Benedict has volunteered with the International Committee of the Red Cross teaching international humanitarian law to high school students; and with the International Crimes Evidence Project, which was established to conduct independent investigations and analyse evidence of war crimes and other human rights violations in Sri Lanka at the end of the civil war.
Benedict currently volunteers with the new Robina Community Legal Centre, the Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA) and the Southern Cross University Alumni Mentoring Program. He also assisted Sally Kuether to challenge the Queensland bikie laws and her possible imprisonment.
Benedict is currently completing a Masters in International Human Rights Law at Oxford University. He was awarded the Southern Cross University (SCU) Young Alumnus of the Year Award in 2014 and the ‘Alumnus of the Year’ for the SCU School of Law and Justice.
He has authored/co-authored various articles covering human rights issues, such as refugee law and the criminal justice system, which have been published by various media outlets including New Matilda, Justinian and LAWASIA Update.
Having demonstrated an outstanding commitment to social justice and public interest causes both in the workplace and through ongoing volunteer work, Benedict Coyne is a most worthy recipient of the Emerging Lawyer of the Year Award and we commend him to the profession.