Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, winner of last year's Nobel Peace prize, has been awarded the 'Lawyer of the Year' award by online legal news publisher LawFuel.
The LawFuel 'LawStar' award is based on a combination of editorial choice and voting from the site's 50,000+ legal audience worldwide.
LawFuel said although second place getter, US New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer accumulated significant votes, Ms Ebadi was significantly ahead on the vote count and accordingly took the "LawStar" award. Ms Ebadi said she was honoured to have won the award through the voting of her contemporaries.
Ms Ebadi, whose outspoken campaign for democracy and rights for women has often landed her in hot water with conservative clerics, has been credited with being a driving force behind reforms within family law in Iran. She has previously been imprisoned in Iran for her human rights activities.
She has also been an outspoken opponent of the US occupation of Iran. In an interview with LawFuel publisher John Bowie she had harsh words for the occupation of Iraq, saying occupation of any country by any foreign government and for any motive was an "indecent act" and is contrary to human rights.
In an the interview she also said that in winning the Nobel Peace prize she believed the Nobel Prize Committee intended to tell the world that not all Muslims hold the same beliefs and those Muslims who cause enmity and hostility in the name of Islam should not have their actions attributed to Islam.
"I am one of those Muslims who believes Islam does not conflict with human rights and democracy," she said.
Ms Ebadi was a graduate of Tehran University and the first female judge in Iran. She is a popular figure with many Iranians and was forced to resign her position when it was decided that women were not suitable for such posts. She subsequently established her own law practice and took several politically sensitive cases.
Her interview, posted on the LawFuel.com website at:
LawFuel's "LawStars" nominees included 15 lawyers from a variety of fields and several jurisdictions. The website is shortly to accept nominations for its 2005 'LawStars' award.
LawFuel has operated since 2001, has built one of the largest audiences of any legal news letter, with over 60,000 subscribers worldwide, most of them lawyers. It aggregates news about lawyers and law firms as well as handling a fast-growing law news release service and research publications division.
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