BIntStud 2010, LLB 2011
Grace Brown is Editor-in-Chief of AERIS, China’s first bilingual (English- Simplified Chinee) magazine, and is soon heading to Beijing to take up a role as Anchor/Editor at CNC World, Xinhua News.
What made you decide to study law, and why did you choose Sydney Law School?
I always knew that I wanted to be in the media industry – growing up, Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson were my idols: she inspired people by sharing positive stories; he inspired people with new ideas. When I was 15 and talked about it with my Dad, a journalist himself. He suggested I study something that would train me to think and give me knowledge, over media-specific skills (eg. video editing, which I learned interning for various networks and magazines during my degree). I also did well at school and had this opportunity to study something few others could: International Studies/Law. At the time, I was asked ‘have you seen legally blonde?’ by the student centre. Oh well.
Where has the study of law taken you in your career and/or life in general?
I never could have foreseen this 2 years ago, while struggling through my arch nemesis – Corporations Law – but it actually led to my best friend and I registering a magazine: AERIS. Standing at the Hong Kong Companies Registry together and filling out a Business Registration Certificate and a Certificate of Incorporation to register a Limited Liability Company at just 23 years old was something I would not have had the courage to do without passing that awful subject!
AERIS would become China’s first bilingual (English- Simplified Chinee) magazine. For some reason, the others were all translated separately – English, or mandarin. We saw an opportunity to publish in both languages, side by side, and seized it. The market was also saturated by luxury, or trashy gossip – nothing in the middle offering inspiration, and certainly nothing targeting young Chinese (18-25), only 25+ (ie. ‘the spenders’). In delivering high-quality inspirational interviews and creative lifestyle content to Chinese aged 18-25 years old, we filled a niche every big publisher was ignoring. We also did it online, which made us even more unconventional – but more flexible and less costly.
Our hits saw double-digit growth before our first 6 months even concluded and soon, we were securing investors, advertising clients and drafting agreements. It all happened so fast - sometimes we were pitching to people three times our age! Law definitely gave me the confidence to do that, in spite of my age.
What is your fondest memory of your time at Sydney Law School?
Funnily enough when I was there, all I wanted was to get out. Now I’m out, there really are too many happy memories to write down.
The highlights were playing Lindsay Lohan in the Sydney Law Revue, the many Law Revue cast parties, the cosy study sessions in a breathtaking new library (and pain au chocolat from the new bakery), the dramatic Law Balls (from Brazilian Carnival to French Revolution, SULS threw the best parties), trademarks with Patricia Loughnan (who is wonderfully creative for a lawyer), defamation with Dr ‘Rolphie’ (who did such hilarious ‘plaintiff v defendant’ impersonations that the stories behind the cases were impossible to forget), Kirby J’s (ever-dissenting) minority judgements, and the friends I made, from whom I learned almost as much.
Lastly, the incredible exchanges to Shanghai and Cambridge. From fascinating lectures on Chinese law to high-jinx in glamorous, snowy Shanghai after class, to punting with apple cider in the sun at Cambridge (while learning a thing or two about equity from England’s most esteemed professors), we were lucky beyond words.
What one piece of advice would you give to law students today?
Most of law teaches you to think ‘yes, but’ – which is important in the nitty gritty of contracts, sure. But my best, best lecturers taught us to ask ‘what if?’ too. ‘What if the court decides we are living in the past, and something else becomes possible tomorrow?’
The countless times when precedents were over-turned showed me that where there is imagination and perseverance, there is a way! That is what gave me the courage to start something completely unprecedented in China.
A lot of law students think they should join a corporate firm, lock their creativity away and throw away the key. I was a clerk for a corporate law firm in my third year and was told to ‘leave my personality at the door.’ Now I’m making a living off my personality and that guy is probably still on the 28th floor.
What do Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey and Justice Kirby all have in common? Imagination and perseverance! So don’t be scared to be creative – even if you do law.
Subscription to AERIS is free of charge - just visit the website and enter your email in the subscription section.
Grace also welcomes written, photographic, or artisic submissions from alumni looking to share a story or explore their creativity. Contact her at for further information.