Leading the way for Indigenous lawyers

15 December 2020

Inspiring future generations of Indigenous law students is the endgame for soon-to-be University of Queensland graduate Marty Doyle.

After six years of late nights and long hours, Mr Doyle will earn his Bachelor of Laws (Honours) / Bachelor of Science testamurs this month.

Mr Doyle is a proud Woppaburra man whose people are the traditional owners of the lands on the Keppel Islands off the coast of Yeppoon.

Given his strong connections to community and culture, Mr Doyle is well aware of his responsibility to use his university qualifications for good.

“It’s important to know your mob and your country and to ensure you recognise that as a major part of you,” Mr Doyle said.

“I wouldn’t be in the position I am without the support of community; I think it's fair that I pay back that support in kind and with interest as much as I can.”

The Law School student is about to start a 12-month stint as an associate for His Honour Judge Ken Barlow QC, Judge of the District Court of Queensland.

He will follow this up with a role at law firm Ashurst to pursue his interest in commercial litigation.

While he will be busy for the time being, Mr Doyle said he hoped to one day have the opportunity to give back to his community through pro bono work.

He sees himself lending a hand wherever it’s needed, whether that involves assisting community members with criminal and civil matters or mentoring aspiring Indigenous law students.

Mr Doyle credited his family with instilling his unshakeable sense of community, but was also grateful to Law School teachers Professor Tamara Walsh and Associate Professor Justine-Bell James for showing him how to apply the law to create meaningful societal change.

He said an endowed scholarship also inspired him to persevere.

 “I received the Endowed Dr J and Dr M Fulcher Scholarship in Law at a time when I had been questioning whether law was actually for me,” Mr Doyle said.

“This gift proved to me that I was on the right path, that there are people out there who think I can do this and want me to succeed.

“I want to do something similar for potential students – to help them realise they can go to UQ, the best law school in the state, and achieve incredible things," Mr Doyle said. 

“I’ll always think of my experience here as amazing, but I don't want studying law to be seen as something that’s outside the norm or especially remarkable for an Indigenous student.”

During his studies, Mr Doyle took every opportunity to develop his knowledge, advocacy and legal skills.  

Mr Doyle's team won the 2018 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students' Moot
Mr Doyle's team won the 2018 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students' Moot

In 2018, his team won the fourth annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students’ Moot, where Mr Doyle took home the prize for best oral advocate in the competition.

Mr Doyle was an active participant in the UQ Law Revue, as well as an executive member of the University of Queensland Law Society (UQLS).

In his capacity as vice-president of diversity and wellbeing, Mr Doyle organised the first-ever UQLS reconciliation breakfast. It’s an area he hopes the UQLS will continue to build on long after he graduates to continue to break down barriers for Indigenous law students.

Five students at the 2019 UQLS Reconciliation Breakfast
Mr Doyle (second from left) at the 2019 UQLS Reconciliation Breakfast. 

Reflecting on his upcoming graduation, Mr Doyle said he had mixed emotions.

“Law school has been both a challenge and also quite a fun time,” he said.

“Most of all, I’ll miss the people I’ve met here, the fraternity and that sense of a shared objective. 

“I’ve been so lucky to have some wonderful friends around me who have supported me through the tough times and helped me celebrate the good times.

“I also feel blessed to say that I've had some incredible lecturers and tutors in my time who have always encouraged us to learn.”

His advice for current and future law students? Discover what drives you.

“Try to find what makes you want to succeed, whether that is a cause close to your heart like environmentalism or racial justice, or whether it’s something else like working in a top-tier law firm,” Mr Doyle said.

“Find that drive – it will take you a long way.” 

Contact: BEL Communications, media@bel.uq.edu.au