2006 Prizegiving Ceremony

On Thursday, 18 May 2006, the Sydney Law School held its annual prize giving ceremony, with over 200 people, consisting of prize donors, the prize winners and their family and guests, attending.

The wonderful support provided to the faculty from the community and the profession continued again this year, with several new prizes also being awarded to recognise the excellence of the students.

The University Medallist, Selina Wrighter , gave the student address at the Ceremony.

The Sydney Law School would like to congratulate all its prize winners for 2006.

The complete list of prizewinners is below.

Group photo of 2006 prize winners

Prize winners

Name Prize

Luke Bentvelzen

The Blake Dawson Waldron Prize
The Bruce Panton Mcfarlan Prize

Mary Berton

The Mr Justice Stanley Vere Toose Memorial Prize

Anish Bhasin

The CA Hardwick Prize
The EM Mitchell Prize
The LexisNexis Book Prize No 4
The Pitt Cobbett Prize
The Wigram Allen Scholarship No 1A

Belinda Bible

The Bruce Panton Mcfarlan Prize

Jonathan Bonnitcha

The Nancy Gordon Smith Memorial Prize

Fiona Campbell

The JH McClemens Memorial Prize in Criminology No 2

Megan Caristo

The Andrew Clayton Memorial Prize
The George and Matilda Harris Scholarship No 2B
The Law Society of NSW Prize
The LexisNexis Book Prize No 3
The Margaret Dalrymple Hay Prize

Julia Carland

The Dudley Williams Prize
The John George Dalley Prize 1B
The Nancy Gordon Smith Memorial Prize

Tyrone Carlin

The Law Graduates' Association Medal

Mila Cerecina

The ED Roper Memorial Prize

Doreen Tan Fong Chen

The Zoe Hall Scholarship

Mark Choong Weng Chong

The Longworth Scholarship

Laura Coleman

The Thomas P Flattery Prize

David Collits

The Law Society of NSW Prize
The Margaret Dalrymple Hay Prize

Andrew Corkhill

The Sybil Morrison Prize

Jennifer Crittenden

The JH McClemens Memorial Prize

Stephen David

The Cooke, Cooke, Coghlan, Godfrey and Littlejohn Scholarship

Rumana Dewan

The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Prize

Edwina Dunn

The Sybil Morrison Prize

Scott Eddington

The Blake Dawson Waldron Prize

Rebecca Fett

The Walter Ernest Savage Prize

Leah Friedman The Sir Peter Heydon Prize

John Fulton

The Jeff Sharp Prize in Tax Research

Joel Gilbourd

The Aaron Levine Prize
Alice Grey The Monahan Prize
Callista Harris The Caroline Munro Gibbs Prize

Rima Hor

The Peter Paterson Prize

Joanna Hughes

The Julius Stone Prize

Michelle Jeffries

The Bill Wallace Memorial Prize for Stamp Duties

Scott Jeffries

The Alan Ayling Prize in Environmental Law

Quan Jin

The Ross Waite Parsons Scholarship

Keith Jones

Oliver Jones

The Gustav and Emma Bondy Postgraduate Prize in Jurisprudence
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission Prize
The ED Roper Memorial Prize
The Edward John Culey Prize
The George and Matilda Harris Scholarship No 1
The John Geddes Prize
The LexisNexis Book Prize No 5

Thomas Kearney

The AMPLA Prize in Energy Law

Louise Keats

The Advanced Employment Law Prize

Nicola Keeling

The Maddock's Prize in Labour Law

Amy Knibbs

The Walter Ernest Savage Prize

David Lechem

The University of Sydney Foundation Prize

Kwok Ting Lee

The Law Society of NSW Prize
The Margaret Dalrymple Hay Prize

Rebecca Lock

The Blake Dawson Waldron Prize
The Kevin Dufty Memorial Prize

Rowan Mawa

The Julius Stone Prize

Elisabeth McDermott

The Bruce Panton Mcfarlan Prize

Stefanie Memmott

The Playfair Prize

Eliza Mik

The Cooke, Cooke, Coghlan, Godfrey and Littlejohn Scholarship

Sascha Morrell

The New South Wales Justices' Association Prize
The Pitt Cobbett Prize

Kyung Gon Ken Nam

The New South Wales Women Justices' Association Prize

Daniel Natale

The Sir Peter Heydon Prize

Shanshan Cheryl Neo

The Tomonari Akaha Memorial Prize

Nicole Parrish

The John Warwick McCluskey Memorial Prize

Kathryn Peterson

The Harmer's Workplace Lawyers Prize for Employment & Industrial Law
The Minter Ellison Prize
The Nancy Gordon Smith Memorial Prize
The Sir Alexander Beattie Prize

Mariko Ralph

The Victoria Gollan Memorial Scholarship

Michael Rawling

The Ross Waite Parsons Scholarship

Lise Rawlings

The Carolyn Mall Memorial Prize in Indirect Taxes

Troy Sarina

The Cooke, Cooke, Coghlan, Godfrey and Littlejohn Scholarship

Dino Sawaya

The Caroline Munro Gibbs Prize

Jessica Saya

The Margaret Ethel Peden Prize

Melissa Sekely

The George and Matilda Harris Scholarship No 2A

James Shirbin

The Sir John Peden Memorial Prize

Terry Simmonds

The JH McClemens Memorial Prize in Criminology No 3

Anthony Simms

The Mallesons Stephen Jaques Prize

Daniela Simone

The JH McClemens Memorial Prize

Lucinda Smith

The Nancy Gordon Smith Memorial Prize

Melinda Smith

The JH McClemens Memorial Prize in Criminology No 3

Rebecca Smith

The LexisNexis Book Prize No 2

Llewellyn Spink

The Caroline Munro Gibbs Prize

Amanda Stephens

The Cooke, Cooke, Coghlan, Godfrey and Littlejohn Scholarship

Jennifer The

The Allens Arthur Robinson Prize

Laura Thomas

The Nancy Gordon Smith Memorial Prize

Emma Truswell

The LexisNexis Book Prize No 1
The Walter Ernest Savage Prize

Alfonso Valenti

The Allens Arthur Robinson Prize
The Christopher C Hodgekiss Prize

Zachary Vermeer

The Andrew Clayton Memorial Prize
The George and Matilda Harris Scholarship No 2B
The LexisNexis Book Prize No 3
The Minter Ellison Scholarship

Jeffrey Weeks

The Judge Samuel Redshaw Prize

Elizabeth Wells

The Julius Stone Prize

Michaela Whitbourn

The ED Roper Memorial Prize

Kathryn Wood

The George and Matilda Harris Scholarship No 2A
The Harmer's Workplace Lawyers Prize in Anti-Discrimination Law

Zelie Wood

The Andrew Clayton Memorial Prize
The George and Matilda Harris Scholarship No 2B
The LexisNexis Book Prize No 3

Selina Wrighter

 

The Blake Dawson Waldron Prize
The Ian Joye Prize in Law
The John George Dalley Prize 1A
The Joye Prize in Law
The Julius and Reca Stone Award for International Law and Jurisprudence
The Nancy Gordon Smith Memorial Prize
The New South Wales Bar Association RG Henderson Memorial Prize
The Rose Scott Prize

Ying Mei Wu

The Tomonari Akaha Memorial Prize

Natalie Zerial The Pitt Cobbett Prize
Zhong Zhuang The Cooke, Cooke, Coghlan, Godfrey and Littlejohn Scholarship

Speech by the University Medallist, Selina Wrighter

Selina Wrighter, the University Medalist

Let me start by saying what an honour it is to have been asked to speak today;

It’s certainly my pleasure to be able to address every one here as a distinguished guest.

Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dean, Pro-Dean, Head of School and members of the Faculty;

Dr Joye and all the other Prize Donors: I’m sorry that I can’t address each one of you by name, but I think that I can speak on behalf of all the other Prizewinners when I express my sincere thanks for your generous recognition of academic excellence – without which this occasion certainly would not be possible.

Friends and family: I think that your support is perhaps the most serially undercomplimented, but is the most fiercely felt and appreciated of all;

And colleagues: I would like to pass on my warmest congratulations to all of the Prizewinners here today, as well as to my classmates both present and absent who are graduating from the Faculty of Law in 2006. It is a great achievement – and also a bit of a relief – to finally earn and be awarded a degree in law. Among such outstanding peers, it is a special mark of distinction to earn any part of that degree with excellence, so Prizewinners, once again, congratulations.

As for myself:

I searched a long time for something to say to begin this speech that would be equal to the honour of being awarded the Law University Medal for 2006 – but through all the history of my legal education the one thing that kept nagging at me was this: Applying the “but for” test of causation that I’d been taught so well at Law School – that is that “but for” circumstance X, situation Y would not have occurred – you could say that the reason I’m standing here today is from a want of courage… You see, when I finished high school, having a UAI of over 99 and just enrolling in an ARTS degree was braver thing to do than I was equal to.

Arts was however where my interest lay. The thing that I wanted to do upon entering university was continue my study of Indonesia, the huge but often overlooked country beyond Australia’s northern border. Indonesia was a turbulent, diverse society; a floundering academic discipline… and incidentally, quite an appealing travel destination — three things which made it the perfect area of study for an aspiring Arts student.

Unfortunately even then, nasty rumours had reached me that as a future Arts Graduate I might hope to enjoy an intellectually….but unfortunately in no other way enriching career, and several parties (parental included) may have suggested that ‘since I had the marks’, why not ‘consider enrolling in law’? A sort of ‘2-year fall back plan’, just in case.

The problem with this plan was that I’d really never had any interest in studying law, believing as I did that the only people who did law degrees were people who wanted to be Big-L Lawyers: to stand up in a robe and a wig in court and argue a lot… or worse yet, people who wanted to become Politicians.

It was a friend’s father who pointed out the error of my assumptions, with a promise that was too intriguing to resist. Himself something of a serial graduate – a law graduate but not a lawyer – he told me that studying law would not only require me to learn about crimes and contracts, torts and taxation, but would teach me nothing less than “a new way of thinking”.

I enrolled, at the beginning of the 2000 academic year, as the proud candidate for a Bachelor of Arts… *cough* (and Laws).

It’s true that especially for the years of my first undergraduate degree, I always took greater pride in my Arts studies than my Law studies, an allocation of importance that I perhaps felt was given in inverse proportion to the recognition I perceived other people gave to my two chosen disciplines.

Case in point: I was recently fortunate enough to return from almost half a year of travelling overseas, during which time I was often asked where I was in life and how I could afford the luxury of a six month ‘break from the real world’. I’d tell my questioner that I’d recently graduated from university; they would ask what subject I’d graduated in. When I told someone that I’d studied Arts, the best response I could generally hope for was a diplomatic ‘ah’; the worst, the dreaded question ‘so what kind of painting do you do?’

On the other hand, what consistently surprised and impressed me was the look of recognition that spread across a person’s face, the note of understanding that modulated their voice, when I told them that I had recently graduated in law. To my mind at least that look said three things:

First there was a recognition of the academic commitment I had made to first qualify for and then successfully complete a degree in law;

Second an assumption that I would soon, would want to be joining the ranks of that esteemed profession, of lawyers – why else after all would I spend 6 years of my life studying law?

And third there was all too often a look of gleeful anticipation… that I would now be paying 350% more than I was 10 sec ago for whatever it was I had my eyes on purchasing, and which all of my protestations that I was a ‘poor student’ and not a ‘rich lawyer’ were going to be useless to undo.

All these self-assured predictions as to my impending lawyerhood were actually a little ironic, given that my primary purpose for travelling overseas was not in fact to be ripped off by unscrupulous merchants, but rather to temporarily evade the seemingly inevitable natural progression from poor-law-student-to-rich-lawyer by joining a volunteer project in India, teaching English to children from local slum areas – a job for which I am pleased to say my six years of university education prepared me almost not at all.

The school consisted of about 25 students ranging in age from a manic, bouncing-off-the-walls-and-off-other-students-teeth age 4, to a cocky-and-ready-to-face-the-world 15. The school building could be described as little more than 4 walls and a roof. The teaching resources of the school consisted of little more than the permanent and volunteer teachers’ imaginations. It was impossible then not to appreciate how privileged my own education had been; it certainly put all those remembered complaints about the shortage of power-outlets in LT1 & 9 into perspective.

In spite of the rudimentary facilities, however, what constantly amazed and uplifted me was the kids unflagging enthusiasm for, and enjoyment of learning: whether it was being taught higher levels of multiplication, practising English vowel sounds, dancing the Macarena, or asking this strange new travelled person who was now at their disposal small questions about a big big world, such as: Why do aeroplanes fly? Do aeroplanes touch the sky? Do aeroplanes have seats? Do the seats have seat-belts? Do aeroplanes have toilets? But… if the people on the aeroplane sit in seats and are wearing seat belts then how can they go to the toilet?

It reminded me why I’d enjoyed studying a language so much: because studying a language is not just about learning words, forming sentences – but about being able to ask new questions about the world, because you have had a different perspective on the world opened up to you.

I also then realised that the reason I had, ultimately, enjoyed studying law so much – despite my continued resistance to that end-state of being a ‘L’-lawyer – was because learning law had not been so different to learning a new language. For a start, I think that anyone who has struggled to turn a 100+ page High Court judgment or a particularly convoluted piece of legislation into plain simple English will agree with me that a lawyers job is as much that of a translator as anything. More than that though, as my friend’s father had told me, studying law – like studying a language – gave me a new way of thinking about the world. As students of law we are taught to speak and understand a world constructed in terms of rules, rights and responsibilities. We learn to ask questions about the world in those new terms. The exciting thing about the language of law, however, is that as we use it, as we answer those questions – when, as attorneys we give advice, as judges give judgment, as legislators draft legislation – we also have the power to change our language, change the law, recreating the terms in which the world is spoken and defined.

The most important thing that I think I learned in law school, then, was not to know what the law is, or has been, but rather to ask what it should be; and this in turn has changed my understanding of what a lawyer can be. I have been taught to be an advocate – to argue the position in law that best supports a party’s interests – but not just that. I have been taught to be a judge – to find the position in law that most correctly resolves a bipartisan dispute – but not just that, either. Most importantly I think, I have also been taught to make my own answer to questions which are both legal and social – criminal to environmental, human-rights to taxation-related – and to form a response to these issues that can never be something so simple as right, but which must always be informed, considered, and conscientious.

When law degrees today clearly draw the top talent of each academic generation – and when not all law students are confident upon leaving high school that the end state they want to reach is that of a Big-L lawyer – I think it is critical that law programmes continue to develop the diverse perspectives necessary for law students not only to become fluent in law, but to become socially responsible practitioners of law – regardless of what job-title they end up answering to. It is to the credit of this law school that I now, at the end of my degree, feel as if I have as many paths open to me as I did back in 2000, but now with greater competence, and greater courage, to address them.

The final thing I would like to say today – and again something I think brought home by my experience in India – is (and I don’t hesitate to use the word) a *huge* thank you to each of the teaching staff of the faculty who have used their language with intelligence, imagination and the strongest sense of professional integrity to educate the next generation of law graduates. I think our appreciation for you is not often enough expressed out loud, but let me assure you that it’s there, in the expression that I have seen cross colleagues’ faces when they speak about a tutor, lecturer or professor who has inspired them to think, learn and be more.

The most recent appointee to the High Court of Australia, Justice Susan Crennan, began her career as a teacher. Let me conclude only by saying that I at least would see no less honour in the opposite career progression, and that I only hope that I can do this law school justice as a student, as a lawyer, and as a teacher in the years to come.

Thank you.