From Refugee to Young Australian Migration Lawyer of the Year
Marina Brizar has fond memories of her time studying Law at UTS. She recalls being in one of her first ever law lectures, where a lecturer imparted some wise advice to the bright eyed first year students: “Be good at what you do,” he said, “and you can do what you want.” Since then Ms Brizar has applied this mantra not only to her career in law, but her life in general.
The advice (and her hard work) has more than paid off – earlier this year Marina was the recipient of the Law Council of Australia’s 2015 John Gibson AM Young Australian Migration Lawyer of the Year Award. The peak industry award for young migration lawyers, the award recognises excellence of young lawyers in the field internationally. Nominated by her mentor and former boss Katie Maylon, Ms Brizar says that the award has given her “a platform… to engage with my clients in new ways and to earn more respect from my peers.”
A refugee herself, Ms Brizar realised that migration law was her passion when she started taking migration law electives. “[Migration law] really appealed to me as an area rich with different types of law,” says Ms Brizar, “You touch on administrative law, constitutional law, corporate law and employment law. It actively allowed me to use all the skills picked up in my law degree.” Migration law has “met her expectations absolutely.” The work she does is exactly what she imagined it to be, she says “every day you have your email open, the [regulations] open and policy open and you’re writing submissions.”
Currently working mostly in corporate migration, Ms Brizar says she enjoys the knowledge that she’s involved with giving people a second chance. “In corporate migration you’re facilitating a person’s move to a new country and you’re helping a workplace to gain a new staff member – everyone wins,” she says.
What attracted Ms Brizar to migration law was the idea that unlike family law or criminal law there was no ‘loser’. However this isn’t always the case. Having also done some work on Manus Island as a claims assistance provider she says there is a lot of uncertainty, and some clear winners and losers when you’re taking a global context into consideration.
Ms Brizar wants to eventually move into diplomacy and help facilitate conversations between countries. She is still involved with the work being done on Manus Island, and says she is happy to make any contribution she can to the cause. No stranger to getting involved in confronting issues in the migration space, as a UTS student Ms Brizar interned at Anti-Slavery Australia. Based out of UTS, Anti-Slavery Australia is the only legal research and policy centre in Australia with a focus on abolition of slavery, trafficking and extreme labour exploitation.
Associate Professor Jennifer Burn of the UTS:Law faculty taught Ms Brizar in a migration law elective. She describes Ms Brizar as an inspiring advocate and communicator. “Speaking of her own experiences as a refugee, she challenged her peers by speaking personally about her experiences,” says Professor Burn, “I recall Marina’s intellect, her sophisticated understanding of the law and legal concepts and her passion for social justice.”
Ms Brizar is working on a photo exhibition for Refugee Week called Courage with her best friend and fellow migration lawyer Adriana Mercado.
Listen to an interview with Marina with The Chat here.
Story by: Rebecca Brediceanu
Photo by: Adriana Mercado (provided by Marina)
Stay connected with the UTS Faculty of Law for more news and events: