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Terri Janke’s passion for protecting the rights of Indigenous artists helped her develop a thriving law career.

Copyright and passion are two words seldom encountered in the same sentence. But for Terri Janke, using copyright and intellectual property (IP) law to further the case of Indigenous social justice has been the raison d’être for a passionate legal career. As a shy Wuthathi/Meriam girl growing up in Cairns, Janke never dreamed of becoming a lawyer and business owner. In a world where Indigenous students were automatically delegated to the remedial class regardless of aptitude, positive career role models were thin on the ground.

But reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird opened her eyes to the power of the law and social justice to change lives. When her older sister Toni enrolled in law at the University of New South Wales, Janke decided to do the same.

She admits she had a romanticised image of the law, expecting it to be like an episode of the television show LA Law. The reality was a shock. “It was really hard,” she says.

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