Castan Centre - Lawless: A lawyer's unrelenting fight for justice in one of the world's most dangerous places

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Event Details

26 August 2019 at 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Herbert Smith Freehills, Level 42, 101 Collins Street, Melbourne
Not applicable
Open to:
None, light lunch provided
Law; Other events; Public lectures; General


Herbert Smith Freehills, the Australian Centre for Justice of Innovation and the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law presents: an author talk by Kimberley Motley

The extraordinary true story of Kim Motley, the US woman who became the first foreign lawyer to practice in Afghanistan’s courts

Public lecture - All welcome

In the summer of 2008 Kimberley Motley quit her job as a criminal defence attorney in Milwaukee to join a program to help train lawyers in war-torn Afghanistan. She was 32-years-old at the time, a former Mrs. Wisconsin (she entered the competition on a dare) and mother of three who had never travelled outside the United States.

What she brought to Afghanistan was a toughness and resilience that came from growing up in the projects in one of the most dangerous cities in the US, a fundamental belief in everyone's right to justice - whether you live in Milwaukee, New York or Kabul, and a can-do approach to practising law that was to make her a legend in the highly conservative environment of Afghanistan. Through sheer force of personality, ingenuity and perseverance, she became the first foreign lawyer to practice in the courts of Afghanistan. Her legal work swiftly morphed into a personal mission - to bring 'justness' to the defenceless and voiceless. In the space of two years, Motley established herself as an expert on Afghanistan's fledgling criminal justice system, steeped in the country's complex laws but equally adept at wielding religious laws in the defence of her clients.

Her radical approach has seen her successfully represent both Afghans and Westerners, overturning sentences for men and women who had been subject to often appalling miscarriages of justice.

Kimberley’s memoir is both the story of an extraordinary woman fighting for justice in one of the most dangerous countries in the world, and a page-turning non-fiction legal thriller.

Lawless (Published 5th August).

Kimberley Motley is an American lawyer who has made headlines around the world with her ground-breaking legal work in Afghanistan and beyond. She's best known in Australia for her work in returning two Australian children taken illegally to Afghanistan by their father - the case made national headlines in 2015. She also represented former Australian soldier Robert Langdon and was responsible for successfully arguing for a Presidential pardon which resulted in his release from Afghanistan's most notorious prison.

Motley's extraordinary work in Afghanistan was the subject of a critically acclaimed 2016 documentary entitled 'Motley's Law'. Motley was a recent featured speaker at Oslo Freedom Forum and her TED talk entitled 'How I Defend the Rule of Law' has been viewed over a million times.

Janice Hugo
03 9905 3327
Castan Centre for Human Rights Law