Bryan Keon-Cohen

Dr Bryan Keon-Cohen AM QC is a barrister, writer and activist. He was born and educated (Scotch College) in Melbourne and graduated LLM, LLB, BA from Melbourne University in 1971. He thereafter lectured at Monash University law school, worked with Kirby J at the Australian Law Reform Commission in Sydney, and joined the Victorian Bar in 1981, where he still practices. He was junior counsel for the plaintiffs throughout the Mabo litigation (1982 – 1992); has acted for claimants in many native title and immigration matters in the Federal Court; has appeared in the High Court in significant constitutional, native title and refugee matters; and has written and lectured extensively on Indigenous rights.

He took silk in 1996.

During the 1980's he was a committee member, including Secretary, of the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty Victoria). Since February 2012, he has been President of COIN ("Commission of Inquiry Now"), a community group advocating for victims of child sexual abuse.

On 26 January 2012 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to the law especially the development of Indigenous rights. In May 2012, Bryan graduated PhD from Monash University following publication of his thesis/book: Mabo in the Courts: Islander Tradition to Native Title: a Memoir.

He is married to June, a lawyer. They have three daughters and two grandchildren.


"a wonderful story in human terms, it’s an important story in legal terms, and most significantly, it’s a very important story for the integrity of Australia as a just nation."
The Hon Michael Kirby

"Mabo in the Courts carries much of the élan of the ten-year battle - for battle it was, often quite nasty - a scholarly work about a legal contest of a lifetime."
Nonie Sharp
ARENA Vol 118 June/July 2012, pp. 56-59

Read the book launch by
The Hon Michael Black AC QC here:
Remarks on the launch of A Mabo Memoir, From Islan Kustom to Native Title
Melbourne Writers' Festival, 25 August 2013