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The William Ah Ket scholarship is an annual scholarship awarded to the applicant who produces the most outstanding research paper on a topic relating to equality, diversity and the legal profession or the law and seeks to encourage persons at a junior stage of their legal career in Australia to contribute to the discourse on diversity and inclusion in the law and legal profession.

The scholarship is open to Australian residents (including permanent residents and foreign student visa holders) that are:

a.   Admitted lawyers in any Australian jurisdiction; or
b.   Law graduates (Bachelor of Law or Juris Doctor) currently undertaking practical legal training or a legal traineeship; or
c.   Final year law students, who have had not less than four (4) weeks’ legal work experience or completed a legal clerkship in Australia or overseas,

and provided the person is not a member of the AALA National Executive Committee and has no more than five (5) years’ post admission legal or academic experience (in Australia or overseas).

For more information about the William Ah Ket Scholarship, please email us at



As the first barrister of Chinese descent to join the Bar in Australia, William Ah Ket (1876 – 1936) was active in the fight against racial discrimination, appearing in cases such as Potter v Minahan (1908) 7 CLR 277, as well as other public interest cases.


Outside of his work:


“William's personal interests were widely diversified. He was a founding member and Grand Master of the East Caulfield Masonic Lodge No.123 and held life-membership of the MCG so that he could maintain his enthusiasm for cricket as a ball-to-ball eyewitness of the Test matches between England and Australia.”


- Toylaan Ah Ket, “William Ah Ket - Building Bridges between Occident and Orient in Australia, 1900-1936”


In addition to the above interests, William was co-founder and president of the Australian-Chinese Association, which was considered to be the first association of its kind in Australia.


Over a century after William joined the Victorian Bar, the Asian Australian Lawyers Association (AALA) was established in 2013. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, AALA is the national peak body for Asian Australian lawyers and lawyers with an interest in Asia regardless of background, which seeks to promote cultural diversity in the law and is committed to a vision of an Australian legal profession that reflects the communities it serves.


How have the roles played by Australian individuals, organisations and institutions in promoting equality and diversity, as well as opposing discrimination and vilification, in the law, legal profession and justice system, changed over time, including compared to other countries, and how should they continue to change going forward?


5pm AEST Monday 19th June 2023

Expressions of Interest Forms due (EOI Due Date)

5pm AEST Monday 4th September 2023

Papers and the Application Forms due ( Extended Application Due Date)

Late September 2023

Finalists notified of results

10 October 2023

Awards ceremony for finalists (Awards Ceremony)

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First Place Prize

AUD 6,000 (First Place Prize)

Finalists’ prize x 2 (other than first place)

AUD 1,000 each (Finalists’ Prize)

Word limit of entries

5,000 words excluding reasonable footnotes, appendices, and tables.

Format of submission

Microsoft Word format

Citation Format

The Australian Guide to Legal Citation (4th edition)

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The judging panel for the 2023 William Ah Ket Scholarship consists of three members and includes:

1.   The Honourable Justice Susan Coralie Kenny AM, Judge of the Federal Court of Australia; 

2.   David Newman, Partner and CEO of Maddocks; and

3.   Professor Suzanne Le Mire, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Learning) at the University of Adelaide.


An initiative of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association, and proudly sponsored by law firm Maddocks and supported by the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Bar, the scholarship is designed to recognise the historical contribution of William Ah Ket to the legal profession as the first barrister of Chinese descent in Australia.

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