When fourth year Law/Commerce (Finance) student Sanjay Alapakkam’s name was announced at the Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards on Friday he was “genuinely surprised given the sheer calibre of the other finalists this year.”

Mr Alapakkam won the coveted award of Law Student of the Year.

“I was absolutely stoked, especially given that … past UNSW finalists, including Khushaal Vyas, Nikita Harlalka and Sachin Kinger are people whom I have looked up to.” 

Now in its 20th year, the annual Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards highlight development and innovation, for professionals and firms which are leading the way in the legal industry.

Mr Alapakkam is currently working as a Research Assistant at the NSW Inspector of Custodial Services and is Vice President (Social Justice) 2020 for the UNSW Law Society.

“I would like to thank my parents Sree Krish and Jawaharlalnehru Chittaranjan who have taught me the value of hard work, perseverance … I would also like to thank my sister, grandparents, friends and relatives who have all been very supportive.”

He is inspired by the passion shown by Steve Mark in Lawyers, Ethics and Justice, UNSW Law Senior Lecturer Marc De Leeuw in Legal Theory and UNSW Law Senior Lecturer Helen Gibbon in Crime and the Criminal Process.

“These three classes have been incredibly formative for me as each had a heavy emphasis on taking a critical and conceptual approach to the law, and hence, cultivating my immense interest in public policy and increasing tendency to take a well-considered and multi-faceted approach towards problems, ” Mr Alapakkam continued.

His advice to students in the early stages of their degree is to grasp every opportunity they can take and to seek out guidance on how to achieve their objectives.

“Chances are that the person they look up to or the person who is their lecturer has been in their shoes,” Mr Alapakkam said.

This year, prominent academics such as UNSW Law’s Professor Lyria Bennett Moses and UNSW Business School’s Associate Professor Mark Humphery-Jenner were finalists in the Academic of the Year category.

UNSW Law Acting Dean Professor Andrew Lynch said the 2020 Australian Law Awards was an excellent night for UNSW Law once more.

“Sanjay Alapakkam, an extremely impressive UNSW fourth year LLB/BComm student, scooped the Law Student of the Year award – the first year in a while that one of our students has won this prize,” Professor Lynch said.

“We were also proud of our colleague Professor Lyria Bennett Moses, Director of the Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation, who was nominated for the Academic of the Year award, but unluckily missed out.”

“Congratulations again to both Sanjay and Lyria for the very deserved recognition they received through their respective nominations, and Sanjay for his award,” Professor Lynch said.

UNSW Law alumni were also successful at the awards event held on Friday with 16 UNSW alumni nominated, with 6 winning their categories.


The following alumni were winners and finalists:

Partner of the Year:

Justin Wong, Streeton Lawyers, Winner

Donna Bartlett, Gadens

Hai-Dang Nguyen, Squire Patton Boggs


In-House Lawyer of the Year:

William Daymond, Associated British Foods, Winner


Senior Associate of the Year

Bishoy Genday, Cornwalls

Helen McHugh, McCabe Curwood Lawyers

Ashleigh Vumbaca, Bradbury Legal


Managing Partner of the Year

Michael Harmer, Harmers Workplace Lawyers, Winner

Andrew Lacy, McCabe Curwood Lawyers

Andrew Pike, Herbert Smith Freehills


Regional/Suburban Lawyer of the Year

Catherine Henry, Catherine Henry Lawyers, Winner


Sole Practitioner of the Year

Michael Hung, ClearSky Legal


Rising Star of the Year

Marial Lewis, Teleo Immigration Lawyers


Dealmaker of the Year

Sandy Mak, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Winner


Special Counsel of the year

Amy Zhang, Harmers Workplace Lawyers

New Law Firm of the Year

Sprintlaw, Winner (Co-founder Tomoyuki Hachigo)

For the full list of winners and finalists visit the Lawyers Weekly website.

Ebony Stansfield