First Nations lawyers and law students

For over a decade, the New South Wales Bar Association has worked to improve the educational path for First Nations law students studying at NSW universities and to assist in providing career development opportunities and career prospects for First Nations lawyers through the Indigenous Barristers' Trust The Mum Shirl Fund. Our primary goal is to increase the number of First Nations barristers practising at the NSW Bar.


The New South Wales Bar Association is pleased to offer up to three Clerkships to First Nations law students during the mid-year university break in June – July 2023. The Clerkships will be offered as scholarships.

Over three weeks, clerks will complete rotations with judicial officers and a barrister, including at the Supreme Court of NSW, the Land and Environment Court of NSW, the District Court of NSW and a barrister’s chambers. The Clerkship is a unique opportunity for First Nations law students to learn about the inner workings of the justice system, the Courts and the Bar.

For more information about the Clerkship Program and to apply, please see the application form here

Indigenous Barristers' Trust The Mum Shirl Fund 

You may choose to be mentored by a barrister, a judge or both. The Bar Association is deeply concerned about the under-representation of First Nations lawyers practising at the NSW Bar and seeks a legal profession in NSW that demonstrates equality and an absence of any discrimination and reflects the cultural and racial diversity of the general NSW community.

A special trust fund was established in 2001 to which members of the Bar Association make generous donations to the trust so it can meet the needs of First Nations law students, graduates and barristers. The Indigenous Barristers’ Trust - the Mum Shirl Fund is dedicated to providing relief from poverty, suffering, helplessness, misfortune or other disability of First Nations law students and lawyers for whom such disadvantages, which involve financial necessity, impede the pursuit of a career as a barrister in NSW. Funding is available for:

  • Meeting immediate living expenses of First Nations students undertaking legal or related education, for whom becoming a barrister in NSW is a primary career objective, and
  • Avoiding personal or financial hardship for First Nations lawyers attending the NSW Bar Readers program or during the first five years of practice at the NSW Bar.

The range of support available is outlined here. An application form for financial assistance is available here.

Donations to the Mum Shirl Fund 

The New South Wales Bar Association encourages you to donate to the Indigenous Barristers’ Trust The Mum Shirl Fund (The Trust), which has received endorsement from the Australian Taxation Office as a deductible gift recipient. Contributions of $2 or more are allowable deductions for income tax purposes.

Mentoring for law students

The Bar Association First Nations Law Student mentoring scheme aims to equip First Nations law students from law schools across NSW with practical legal knowledge, networks and experience through mentoring. The scheme has two segments matching First Nations law students to be mentored by:

  • a NSW barrister – being part of the life and work of a barrister and the role of advocacy in the justice system, and/or
  • a judge - which is a unique opportunity to provide students with practical insights into the work of a judge, the effective administration of a Judge’s Chambers, and more generally the work of the court and judges.
  • You may choose to be mentored by a barrister, a judge or both.

If you are interested in participating in the mentoring program you can apply to be a mentee here and return it by email to

If you are interested in participating in the mentoring program as a mentor you can apply here.


The employment scheme aims to identify part-time employment opportunities with a barrister, group of barristers or in chambers for First Nations law students including:

  • For first, second and third year students – doing general administrative work, filing loose leaf services, etc.
  • For fourth year students and beyond – doing research and general administrative work.

If you are interested in employment opportunities please email