LLB 1977, JD 1975
You were part of the first cohort of Law students at UNSW and the first woman, alongside Helen Barry, to graduate with a Bachelor of Jurisprudence in 1975. What was UNSW student life like in 1970s? How did it help shape who you are today?
Student life in the 70’s could not have been better. Some of my closest friends came from the law school, particularly amongst the first graduates. These are now lifelong friends. The experience of small group classes was excellent. It gave me the opportunity to engage not only with fellow students but also law school lecturers.
What is the most valuable thing you took away from your time at UNSW?
An understanding of justice within the community and a sense of right and wrong behaviour. It allowed me to prepare myself for the future, particularly in terms of my career. It also gave me the opportunity to advance my career in several different ways
What was it like being one of a small group of women studying law, and pursuing a career in law, in the 1970s?
Quite unique. I recall that only 10% of graduates were women in the first year. Being a woman in the law was never a stumbling block for me but it is interesting that even now law firms are so focussed on getting diversity right. It will still take some time to get the balance right.
Why is the role of the law so important in society?
Without law and justice there can be anarchy. Society needs to have order to function properly and to have some level of equality amongst its citizens. A sense of right and wrong is so important to one’s existence.
What have been some of the biggest changes you’ve seen over the past 40+ years of your legal career?
The biggest change has been the use of my degree. Upon leaving law school I commenced a career in private practice – which at the time was something I thought I would do for the rest of my life. At that time, I did not think that my career would involve time in the areas of government, insurance, media, and finally, the world of legal recruitment. Having just been involved in the appointment of a senior female partner to one of Australia’s top tier law firms, I can say that I have achieved much more than I ever thought I would achieve upon leaving law school.
What has been the greatest career lesson you have learned?
Perseverance, consultation, and positive engagement with others. I believe that you do need to work at things and engage positively with others to get the results you want.
What words of wisdom would you share with our current students and future legal professionals?
Follow your heart and make sure you enjoy what you are doing. There are so many opportunities available to people with law degrees.