2007 Prizegiving Ceremony

On Thursday, 10 May 2007, 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 Law School from the community and the profession continued again this year, with several new prizes also being awarded to recognise the excellence of the students.

Professor Ron Mc Callum AO at 2007 Prize Giving Ceremony

2007 marked the inaugural award of the Peter Cameron Sydney Oxford Scholarship.
It also marked the last Prizegiving Ceremony over which the Dean, Professor Ron McCallum AO, will preside.

The Joint-University Medallist, Mr. Oliver Jones gave the student address at the Ceremony.

The Sydney Law School would like to congratulate all its prize winners for 2007.

The complete list of prizewinners is below.

Group photo of 2007 prize winners

Prize winners

Name Prize

Hugh Atkin

Pitt Cobbett Prize

New South Wales Justices Association Prize

Dale Bampton

J H McClemens Memorial Prize

Tuh Fuh and Ruby Lee Memorial Prize

Lucas Bastin

John George Dalley Prize 1A

Anish Bhasin

George and Matilda Harris Scholarship No 2A

Sir John Peden Memorial Prize

David Birch

Aaron Levine Prize

Anna Boucher

Sir Alexander Beattie Prize

Harmer's Workplace Lawyers Prize

Jonathan Burnett

Thomas P Flattery Prize

Alistair Carmichael

Wigram Allen Scholarship No 1A

LexisNexis Book Prize No 4

Mila Cerecina

Nancy Gordon Smith Memorial Prize

Astrid Chan

Kevin Dufty Memorial Prize

Karen Cheng

Pitt Cobbett Prize

Edward and Emily McWhinney Prize

Mark Chong

Longworth Scholarship

Monica Christopher

Graduate Entry Scholarship (Entry)

Naomi Cook

Victoria Gollan Memorial Scholarship

Timothy Dalton

Sir Peter Heydon Prize

Stephen David

Cooke, Cooke, Coghlan, Godfrey & Littlejohn Scholarship

Cameron Duncan

EM Mitchell Prize

Freehills Prize

Phillip Eyre

AMPLA Prize in Energy Law

Katherine Fallah

Cooke, Cooke, Coghlan, Godfrey & Littlejohn Scholarship

Rebecca Fett

Pitt Cobbett Prize

New South Wales Justices Association Prize

Laurence Field

EM Mitchell Prize

Freehills Prize

Sarah Giles

Graduate Entry Scholarship (Entry)

Skye Glenday

John Geddes Prize

Karen Gould

Law Press Asia Prize for Chinese Legal Studies No.1

Blake Dawson Waldron Prize

Fiona Graney

EM Mitchell Prize

Freehills Prize

Samantha Grenville

Blake Dawson Waldron Prize

Alice Grey

Peter Paterson Prize

Nancy Gordon Smith Memorial Prize

George Harris

Advanced Employment Law Prize

Melinda Harris

Bill Wallace Memorial Prize for Stamp Duties

Andreas Heger

Monahan Prize

Richard Higgins

Australian Securities and Investments Commission Prize

ED Roper Memorial Prize

Kah Chuan Ho

Jeff Sharp Prize in Taxation Research

Marta Iljadica

Minter Ellison Prize

Quan Jin

Ross Waite Parsons Scholarship

Michael Johnston

Maddocks' Prize in Labour Law

Oliver Jones

University Medallist

Allens Arthur Robinson Prize

RG Henderson Memorial Prize

Joye Prize in Law

Nancy Gordon Smith Memorial Prize

The Peter Cameron Sydney Oxford Scholarship

Bora Kaplan

Bruce Panton Mcfarlan Prize

Sonia Keogh

Mr Justice Stanley Vere Toose Memorial Prize

John Warwick McCluskey Memorial Prize

Liddy Kuelper

Law Press Asia Prize for Chinese Legal Studies

Christopher Luhn

Law Graduates' Association Medal

Catherine Mann

ED Roper Memorial Prize

Kate McCrossin

Harmer's Workplace Lawyers Prize

Erin McGushin

Julius and Reca Stone Award

Patrick Meagher

Christopher C Hodgekiss Prize

Allens Arthur Robinson Prize

Eliza Mik

Cooke, Cooke, Coghlan, Godfrey & Littlejohn Scholarship

MagdalenaMilton Misiarek

Mallesons Stephen Jaques Prize

Sascha Morrell

University Medallist

Joye Prize in Law

Dudley Williams Prize

Nancy Gordon Smith Memorial Prize

Rose Scott Prize

Abdolreza Mostafavi

University of Sydney Foundation Prize

John Natal

Nancy Gordon Smith Memorial Prize

Amanda Ngo

Caroline Munro Gibbs Prize

Sharon Ohnesorge

Minter Ellison Prize

Emmi Okada

Graduate Entry Scholarship (Merit)

Michael Phillips

Judge Samuel Redshaw Prize

Emilie Priday

J.H. McClemens Memorial Prize in Criminology No 2

Thomas Prince

Monahan Prize

Margaret Ethel Peden Prize

Edward John Culey Prize

Lee Lee Quach

Blake Dawson Waldron Prize

Fiona Roughley

ED Roper Memorial Prize

George and Matilda Harris Scholarship No 1

Ian Joye Prize in Law

LexisNexis Book Prize No 5

May Samali

LexisNexis Book Prize No 2

Troy Sarina

Cooke, Cooke, Coghlan, Godfrey & Littlejohn Scholarship

Marcel Savary

Gustav & Emma Bondy Postgraduate Prize in Jurisprudence

Bill Sfikas

Carolyn Mall Memorial Prize in Indirect Taxes

James Shirbin

John George Dalley Prize 1B

Nancy Gordon Smith Memorial Prize

Meredith Simons

Walter Ernest Savage Prize

LexisNexis Book Prize No 1

Amy Spira

Margaret Dalrymple Hay Prize

Law Society of NSW Prize

Amanda Stephens

Cooke, Cooke, Coghlan, Godfrey & Littlejohn Scholarship

Jane Taylor

C A Hardwick Prize

Pitt Cobbett Prize

Andrew M Clayton Memorial Prize - Clayton Utz

George and Matilda Harris Scholarship No 2B

Minter Ellison Scholarship

LexisNexis Book Prize No 3

Lily Tsen

The Zoe Hall Scholarship

Anthea Vogl

NSW Women Justices' Association Prize

Playfair Prize

Andrew Whittingham

Graduate Entry Scholarship (Entry)

Nicholas Wilson

The Alan Ayling Prize

Matthew Wong

The Tomonari Akaha Memorial Prize

Zelie Wood

Pitt Cobbett Prize

Edward and Emily McWhinney Prize

Monahan Prize

Yu Zhang

J H McClemens Memorial Prize

Tuh Fuh and Ruby Lee Memorial Prize

Sybil Morrison Prize

Zhong Zhuang

Cooke, Cooke, Coghlan, Godfrey & Littlejohn Scholarship

Speech by the University Medallist, Oliver Jones

Selina Wrighter, the University Medalist

Distinguished guests, awards winners, Ladies and Gentlemen

The first thing we do, Dick the Butcher comments in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, is kill all the lawyers. If Dick were here today, or any other budding revolutionary for that matter, they would find their job considerably easier knowing that we were all gathered together.

Despite my unkempt appearance, I however, am not a revolutionary, and it is indeed a pleasure to be here on this auspicious occasion in this auspicious location - the Sydney University Law School.

It is even more of a pleasure to be given the opportunity to speak to you all. And its nice to get an afternoon off. So in that vein I should congratulate the award winners and thank my and our families and friends who have made this all possible - our achievements I mean, not my afternoon off.

It is a pleasure to be speaking because the law, like politics, like theatre, is performed in public, for the public.

Those that have ever witnessed a Michael Kirby address, or been blinded by his canary yellow jacket, will recognise the lawyer’s penchant for theatre and performance.

Those who have ever ventured into the seedy underbelly of student politics and thrown on a overtly cheerful campaign t-shirt will recognize the number of furrowed law student brows that greeted them there and that now, rather less youthfully but just as obnoxiously, pervade the halls of parliament.

Law shares both the vices and the virtues, of course, of its fellow art forms and it is those vices and virtues that provide some insight into the reasons behind my own study of the law.

Something that seems inconsistent with this analysis - at least to the extent that it can surely not be described as an art form - is the building we are sitting in now.

Yes my old friend the Sydney University Law School - Not as grandiose as it may be you say, despite the extravagant stone-walled functionalism that obviously inspired its creators. It’s a location now made all the more uninspiring, I see, by the juxtaposition of images of a new and opulent law building dominating the foyer - a building that unfortunately no one who attends this campus will be around long enough to inhabit.

But we are here now so we might as well enjoy it because its certainly a very nice model, even if it does not align exactly at this stage with the rather large hole-in-the-ground that continues to masquerade as a law school at main campus.

But I must confess that since the first moment I walked into this building to begin my degree - way back in 2001 - I have been confused by it. Confused by the Being John Malkovich style absurdity, that means the lifts only go up to Level 13 when the building has 14 levels and confused by the two sets of stairs, one labelled ‘up’ and another labelled ‘down’, convinced as I had been before I arrived that stairs had the peculiar advantage of being multi-directional.

I was ignorant of what a ‘moot’ was, or why Level 5 was on Level 2, intimidated by Level 12 and exasperated in discovering that the entrance to the library was on Level 8, despite occupying Levels 7 through 10 inclusive.

He sounds confused, you might say.

Seeking some refuge in the clarity of analogy, my degree has consistently made me aware of the overlaps between the three dubious professions - the thespian, the lawyer and the politician, even if the trio sounds a little too much like a children’s fairytale gone wrong.

As much as most of us wouldn’t want to admit it, in cajoling argument, consistent partisanship and a taste for amateur dramatics, the lawyer and the politician have much in common. Just as for the politician there is far more to the art form than just knowing good policy, there is far more to studying law than inhaling the dust that issues from long-unopened English law reports or pondering the eccentricities of contractual interpretation.

As a student I quickly discovered that for me the performance element, the extracurricular involvement, was a vital supplement to the black-letter law. I found that there was so much to be gained from meeting a diverse range of people, sharing in their experiences and trying to initiate some small steps to improving the concentric circles of communities which we inhabit - from the classroom, to the faculty, to the university and to national and international society.

In my role as President of the Sydney University Law Society I attempted to make some of these changes concrete and to foster a culture of involvement and community. At the Australian Law Reform Commission and the Asia-Pacific Model United Nationals Conference I had an opportunity to witness the justice process on a national and (pseudo) international scale. In the Jessup Moot too there was an opportunity to combine the substance of legal study with the performance and advocacy that demands refinement and clarity. And in Law Revue, the annual comedy and cabaret show, I was allowed to take my clothes off. All worthy experiences for a budding solicitor.

The danger for me, as is the danger for us all I would think, is the difficulty of navigating the path, when undertaking these activities, between the performance and the substance - between the ambition and the belief. Between Success and Success For Its Own Sake.

It is this problem that we see in many lawyers and many politicians. We see it in many actors, but luckily for them they are lauded for it. Because for the actor at least, we always know they are performing. With the lawyer and the politician we are never sure. What we must search for, below the performance, therefore, is some sort of moral or idealistic backbone.

A fundamental question for all the award winners here today is, then, what factors drive us to the achievements for which we are now recognized? It’s certainly not the afternoon tea offered by the Faculty at the Awards Ceremony as you’ll soon discover. Too often, it seems, success, as an abstract concept, is the goal of law students in and of itself, rather than the product of an impassioned zeal to achieve change in some aspect of the real world.

Success is never more easily measured than at school and university. Once we leave law school we leave the straight and comforting tracks to which our performance must conform and which demand that we compete with each other on the same terms.

Success and more importantly happiness are no longer to be found in books or defined as a generality, or quantified in a mark or a grade or a rank. It is for each of us, alone, individually and with some introspection to determine whether what we have achieved is worthwhile, and for a purpose.

Without this understanding we are left without a moral compass.

Lawyering is the art of persuasion, argument, convincing and advocacy and thus inevitably performance. But performance must not become perversion.

Determining the moral line to apply when giving legal advice on the rights and obligations that shape people’s very day-to-day existence, appears to me to be one of the most difficult questions that we face in applying our abstract intellectual tools to real life drama, on whatever scale we encounter. The answer, I am sorry members of Faculty, cannot be found in Law, Lawyers and Justice, nor in the Legal Profession Act, nor even in the moral clarion calls of Dr Gerangelos’ Advanced Constitutional Law class.

Because the line between the ‘Warrior Advocate’ and a mere gun-for-hire mercenary is painfully obtuse. That emblematic declaration of Lord Eldon - that “the truth is best discovered by powerful arguments on both sides of the question” - too often, I think, descends into its parody, the hyperbole of school boy debating.

For every legal scarecrow we produce, all bluster and no content, we undermine each of us as a professional. For every graduate grounded in a healthy mix of idealism and scepticism, we reinforce the foundations of the rule of law on which our society is built.

The absurdity into which the law has the potential to descend has been demonstrated recently in the case of a US judge who is suing his local dry-cleaner for $65 million after they lost his pants.

In 2005 the judge took several suits to Custom Cleaners. When a pair of trousers went missing he demanded $1000, the full price of the suit, to replace them. However, when the trousers were found a week later he refused to accept them and when the cleaners refused to pay up, he sued them.

The judge is now asking for over $65 million, claiming that Custom Cleaners breached consumer protection laws by hanging signs saying, "satisfaction guaranteed" and then failing to live up to their promise. He also wants a further $15,000 for being forced to hire a car each weekend so that he could take his dry cleaning to a different establishment.

What of age, what of experience, what of the moral line.

It is a cliché to say legal study changes your way of thinking. But it is less acknowledged that in doing so we are empowered. It is incumbent on you to use that power to question and critique the law, not to pervert it. One only need look at the way defamation law is used to suppress free speech in Singapore, or the way new anti-terrorism laws purport to protect society by undermining individual rights, to see the way in which legal argument can distort and distract.

Of course if all that fails you could just become a comedian, which has always been a popular path for disillusioned lawyers and must be why such a high percentage of corporate lawyers lack a sense of humour.

When Dick the Butcher uttered that famous line in Shakespeare’s Henry VI - Shakespeare referred not to the interminability of legal red tape, but of the way in which the law provides a barrier to tyranny. Or maybe he was just joking.

It is this moral line must guide us at any level of legal practice, from the most basic advice on commercial contracts and personal injury, on dodgy builders and ambulance chasing, to the more grandiose realms of international criminal justice and human rights enforcement.

It is the same moral line that leads me to ponder why so many legal practitioners are unable to decipher the RTA handbook, or a simple tax return.

It’s the failure to draw this moral line that makes us most dissatisfied with our politicians and most angry at their often all too blatant cynical pragmatism. Hopefully we can aspire to a higher ideal.

While this dilemma remains, appropriately most of my confusions when I first arrived at Law School have been resolved.

The lifts, it seems, don’t go to Level 14 because there are squash courts there. Due to funding cutbacks, however, it is probably only a matter of time before tutorials are being taught in them, no doubt while people are still playing squash. Good luck finding a power point and a chair in there.

The library, for your information, only has one entrance so that Jessup mooters, working late at night and with a rapidly approaching deadline, can’t break in to have a last desperate look at the United Nations Treaty Series. Not that I would ever do that;

And there is one set of stairs to go up and one set to go down because that’s the way its always been, and Sydney Uni has 5 out of 7 judges on the High Court so it must be working.

There is too much insecurity among law students. I say, if there is a distinction to be drawn between ocean grey and battleship grey, you draw it. I say, if there is an opportunity to query the terms and conditions on a movie ticket, you query those terms and conditions and while you’re at it, why not ask for a refund. I say, use all the reasonable care, implied representation, failure of consideration, proper purpose and detrimental reliance arguments you can muster. Be a legal nerd. But in doing so do not get sucked into the play-acting and performance world of legal advice. Remember the substantive and significant effect that you, as a lawyer, can have on peoples’ lives.

Law School has become a place that was the focus for some of the most entertaining, satisfying and memorable experiences of my life so far. But life, and ‘reality’ exists beyond its walls. A reality where we have the power to shape the quality of people’s lives and justice in our society. We do well to remember it.

If we embrace post-modernism, as the architects of this building did not, we realise that in determining what the law is we must inevitably look to our own and society’s conception of what the law should be; and in determining what the law should be we are only limited by what it can be.

Let this law school follow the same ethos. Let it constantly reach beyond its own potential. Let it embrace its past and look with initiative and energy to the future. I wish the Law School and its new Dean ‘good luck’ with that future and now, along with the other graduates, as part of its past, I look forward to being embraced.

Thank you.