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  • 00:50

    Good Evening and I'm very grateful that you're here

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    tonight attending our virtual annual

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    Law Awards Ceremony. My name is Lesley Hitchens

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    and I'm the Dean of the Faculty of Law here at UTS.

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    Our annual Awards Ceremony and Graduation Ceremonies are two of the

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    highlights of the Law Faculty. Certainly for me,

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    they're events that I look forward to in particular

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    every university year but sadly this year,

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    we have not been able to hold graduation

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    but we can at least do this small event to celebrate and to honor our

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    students and also those of you who generously support us through

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    donations and through the other ways in which you

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    support our students, whether it's through

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    mentoring or

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    teaching guest classes and so forth. And so,

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    I'm very grateful to have you here this evening

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    and I hope that you'll enjoy what will be quite a brief ceremony.

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    Before I go on, I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal People

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    of the Eora Nation upon whose ancestral lands

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    our city campus now stands. I'd also like to pay respect

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    to the elders both past and present, acknowledging them

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    as the traditional custodians of knowledge

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    for this land. So as I said, it's a very great pleasure to

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    welcome you here this evening, whether you're a student

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    a family or friend of the students or you're a friend of UTS Law. And as

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    I've said, importantly having those of you who

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    donate prizes to our students, you are especially

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    welcome in making this ceremony but also

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    our prizes system as it were

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    happen possible. And especially grateful to you

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    for your continuing generosity and interest in the Faculty of Law

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    and our students. Your support is more important than ever as a faculty

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    and as a university. We face some ever-growing challenges in

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    the years ahead as you'll be aware.

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    I'd like to particularly acknowledge and welcome this evening

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    The Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG to our event.

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    Michael Kirby has been a great friend to the Law Faculty and has

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    continued over a number of years to mentor individual

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    students, something he always takes very seriously

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    and I know that it can often be a life-changing experience

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    for the students who are being mentored. If I can just also remind you that this

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    is being recorded this evening and it will be available on our 2020 Law

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    Awards Hub.

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    This year, I think perhaps it's more important than ever

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    to stop and acknowledge the remarkable achievements

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    of you, our students. We want you to know that we admire your resilience, your

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    adaptability and your desire to succeed no matter

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    what obstacles are put in your path.

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    When our students start out, they think they have a long journey ahead of us,

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    whether it's three, four or five years but it passes very quickly and I never

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    cease to be amazed that students I got to know in their

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    first year, often in their first weeks, are what in seems like a moment,

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    now advanced students or they've even graduated.

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    However, that connection doesn't stop there.

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    One of the privileges as academics is to be able to see the successes of

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    our graduates, as they progress in their careers and to

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    remain connected with them as alumni and

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    through the many ways in which they help the Law Faculty and

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    our law students to flourish. The faculty too has been active in

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    developing opportunities for lifelong learning

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    and we hope that the short courses that we've been developing

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    will be of benefit to our alumni. And it's why I'm also pleased that

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    tonight we're able once again to have an alumnus of UTS Law as our guest

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    speaker. This year it's another opportunity

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    to mark the journey of our graduates and to draw wisdom from them

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    but I want to take this opportunity also to acknowledge the faculty's academic

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    staff. It's their excellence in research and

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    teaching, supported by our dedicated professional

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    staff that sustains the reputation of UTS Law. It's

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    their commitment to the classroom that enables and inspires our students.

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    This year, I have been particularly impressed,

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    amazed actually, and humbled by their resilience, by their ability to

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    adapt quickly to the changing environment. They moved

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    to online teaching within a week and it seems as though there is a new

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    situation and a challenge almost on a weekly basis and yet they

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    did that with a great spirit of collegiality

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    and of service to the faculty and to the students.

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    The demands of moving online, and for many of our colleagues

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    home schooling at the same time, as well as travel limitations,

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    have had an inevitable impact on research this year

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    and yet despite these challenges the faculty has continued its impact,

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    its commitment to impact and social change.

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    Thus, colleagues have used their expertise

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    to raise concerns about the impact of COVID on Indigenous Australians

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    and prison communities, exploitation of international students through low

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    forms low cost wage labour and potential

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    internationally environmental

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    disasters. At the beginning of the year, we were very excited to move in to our

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    beautiful new faculty home, UTS Central, and I am

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    sitting here in the building tonight where I had hoped to be able to welcome

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    you, so that you could see what a beautiful

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    building it is. It's state-of-the-art, it's contemporary,

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    innovative and just such a beautiful space. It's

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    very much like our faculty but sadly at the present

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    where we are, we've had very little opportunity

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    to experience this. Within a month of moving here,

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    we had to go into lockdown and work from home

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    but we do hope in the new future that we will be able to make full use of this

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    space, to welcome you, our students, guests and

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    friends of the faculty and to make it a hub for new and bold

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    ideas within the precinct.

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    Tonight we are here to celebrate our students achievements.

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    Whilst we can't celebrate you in person and give you your moment to walk across

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    the stage and receive your award, I want you to know that we recognise and

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    applaud your hard work and perseverance. Your achievements reach

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    across a broad spectrum, reflecting the key

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    components of what we aim to achieve through the legal education we

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    provide at UTS. Many of the awards honour academic

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    excellence and of course we value excellence and we

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    value the fact that our students are prepared to strive for that excellence

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    and to take pleasure in their learning and their achievements

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    but we also value the development of skills.

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    Skills that are necessary to ensure that our graduates are equipped to apply

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    their knowledge as professionals. Some of the awards

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    acknowledge success in those skills. Skills that are embedded within the

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    formal curriculum but also beyond through activities and

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    competitions organised by the faculty and student

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    body. As well, our awards recognise service

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    that many of our students have made to the faculty

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    and to the university and the wider community.

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    Leadership through service is an important value

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    in our faculty. It is part of what it means

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    to be a professional and I'd like here just to acknowledge

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    two prizes that I always regard as very special

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    at the annual Awards Ceremony. The first is the Dean's

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    Leadership Prize and that has been awarded this year

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    to Ben Fong, who was President last year of the Law Students' Society

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    and the Dean's Service Prize, which has been awarded this year to Margaret Cai

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    and I will say a little bit about Margaret Cai in a moment, so that you

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    will get a sense of why she has been awarded

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    that prize. So the recognition that we give to students,

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    whether it's through skills or extracurricular activities through

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    service and leadership as is as important as the recognition

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    we give to all other awards. It's what being a law student at UTS means,

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    disciplinary knowledge, professional skills

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    service. To our students, my congratulations to all of you who are

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    receiving awards this evening and to our donors family and friends,

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    thank you also for your support to our students

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    and to our faculty.

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    I hope as students this evening that you will take the time to reflect

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    on your achievements and in spite of all the difficulties we

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    are facing at the moment enjoy your success and as I said we're

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    looking forward to the time when we can properly

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    all be back together again in this beautiful faculty.

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    Now I would like to introduce you to Nicholas Saady,

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    our speaker this evening. Nicholas joins us from California. He graduated

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    from UTS with the university medal and First Class Honours

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    in 2018. He worked as a graduate lawyer at Herbert Smith Freehills and he then

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    went on to hold a to study a Master of Laws at

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    New York University Law School, where he has since graduated.

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    He studied there on a Dean's Graduate Award Scholarship

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    and the Elias Lieberman Fellowship Network. Nick will sit the New York Bar

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    in September 2020 and commence working as a second

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    year attorney in the Civil Litigation Group of Davis,

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    Polk and Wardle in New York City in October

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    2020. It's a great pleasure to have you here

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    tonight Nick, welcome!

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    Thank you Lesley! I'll start with some good news, tonight is a testament to your immense

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    intelligence and skill. You've been aptly rewarded

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    for your diligence and dedication. Savor the moment and enjoy it with your

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    loved ones. The even better news is that your

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    journeys have just begun. If you're a first or second year student,

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    you have a cacophony of subjects to go. If you're a latter year student or

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    recent grad, you have a lifetime of work to go.

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    Look forward to your paths ahead. This pandemic has shown that so much needs to

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    change in this world. Big questions have been raised about the

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    role of government, the power of corporations

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    the importance of listening to experts and social, racial and generational

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    inequality. In addition to those big questions, we

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    still face the challenges posed by climate change,

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    white nationalism and human rights abuses, to name just a few.

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    We need to address those big questions and challenges.

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    In the words of former U.S. President Obama,

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    now is a time where we need to prove that together,

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    ordinary people can do extraordinary things

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    but you are not just ordinary people. As UTS Law students and graduates, you

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    stand in a privileged position, with such privilege comes a

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    responsibility. You now have a duty and that duty is to

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    make an impact. That's the first of my two messages to

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    you tonight. Go out and make a positive impact on

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    your communities, your country and your world.

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    Taking on the big challenges and addressing those complex questions.

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    Your impact might be achieved through your academic work,

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    pro bono work or legal practice. It might be big, it might be small, it

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    might occur now, it might occur in a few years time.

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    Whatever it is, make sure that it counts. Your education

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    and experiences at UTS Law have equipped you with the capabilities to do this

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    and you've been trained to think critically and constructively by the

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    best academics and practitioners in Australia.

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    You survived the readings, you survived the exams amidst

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    the lure of the tab machines in the bars of Wentworth Park,

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    you navigated the stream of interesting individuals at Central Station,

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    you managed to stay healthy despite the delicious steady stream of Asian

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    restaurants in Haymarket, you balance the risks of arriving too

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    early at networking events, with arriving early enough to get the

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    best appetizers and for merchandise. And then you got through a

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    semester of what Fat Boy Slim would call eat,

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    sleep, study, lockdown and repeat. And that leads me to my second message

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    to you tonight, in the current climate how can you successfully

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    make a positive impact? A tough research question. Using my

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    impeccable research skills, I googled, I consulted the oracle of all

    16:26

    worthwhile knowledge - UTS Law. Typing that into the Google's

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    search bar, I clicked, I then found the UTS Law Website

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    and the first thing I read was this: "a dynamic and innovative law school

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    achieving great success for the quality of its legal education

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    and research". In there, there are three critical

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    amazing words dynamic, innovative and success.

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    Those three words are critical for you as you continue on your journeys

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    and seek to positively impact the world. First be dynamic. Don't be afraid to

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    change things up, whether that be your career path, your

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    interests or even in your location. Your education

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    at UTS has equipped you with the capabilities to adapt

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    and innovate. Don't be afraid to be different,

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    whether that's through embarking on a unique area of legal practice,

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    starting a non-profit or pro bono organisation

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    or investing your time in a startup and then if you add another two factors

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    to the four factor balancing exercise, which you'd be

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    accustomed to, which are hard work and perseverance,

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    you'll be on the way to the third word, success.

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    Dynamism, innovation, hard work and perseverance .

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    Like the maxims of equity, ingrain those four words into your brain

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    and you'll be on the path to success.

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    Now some of what i'm saying might seem a bit crazy to you,

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    it might seem out of reach let me tell you that it's not.

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    If there's any imposter syndrome, drop it now.

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    I can remember it eating away at me during my time as a student.

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    Questions like "should I be here?", "how to get that mark?",

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    "am I good enough?". The answers to all of those questions

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    are yes. Just remember Michael Jordan was cut from his varsity basketball team

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    during his sophomore year. Bill Gates' first company

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    failed miserably. Einstein couldn't get a job for two years after he graduated

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    and J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12

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    different publishers.

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    Now you are some of the brightest legal minds in our country.

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    Remember that. Let it inspire you as you embark upon the remainder of your legal

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    careers and your degrees here at UTS.

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    You're going to need every ounce of confidence in the current world.

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    It's not an easy place but you need to look on the bright side.

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    The radically different reality in which we now live

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    presents opportunities for you to be dynamic,

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    innovative and successful. As well educated and driven youth who

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    are willing to work hard and persevere now is the perfect time for you.

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    So as UTS Law students and graduates, let's shake things up.

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    Let's make an impact and in doing so, remember that we're in this together.

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    This world-class institution has created an unbreakable bond between us.

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    We stand together as UTS Law, We will work together as UTS Law and

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    ultimately, we will make a positive impact as UTS

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    Law. Congratulations again and enjoy tonight!

    20:09

    The future is bright for all of you. Now together, let's go forth as a new

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    generation of dynamic and innovative individuals and let us

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    dream of a future where our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren

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    look back on us with gratitude. That we were successful in fulfilling

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    our duty to positively impact our communities,

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    our country and our world.

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    Nick thank you so much for that! I'm pleased to see that

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    despite having the achievements of the University Medal,

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    you were still able to understand all the

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    other aspects of life as a student around UTS such as the

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    food offerings and so forth. I'm glad none of the experience was

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    was lost on you but more importantly thank you for the words that you've

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    just conveyed because

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    we are facing really challenging

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    problems I think and yet I see amongst our

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    students just incredible opportunities for

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    having impact for change and I really encourage students to

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    think beyond that and you I know Nick, are a great example yourself

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    of someone who is not only focused on study, but really

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    thought about the future impact that you can

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    have and for example how you can support other

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    students coming through as well, so thank you again. Thanks Lesley! It's

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    been a pleasure, thank you! And we probably should

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    doubly thank you because I think it's about midnight where you are.

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    1 am! So we're very grateful. I want to now

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    turn to Margaret and Margaret is one of our

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    current students and as you heard Margaret was awarded the Dean's Service

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    Prize this year. She's currently President of

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    the Australian Law Student's Association, which is the body

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    that brings together law student societies from across the

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    from across Australia and I know personally that she has been

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    very active in bringing change this year and ensuring that

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    students have a voice on significant issues

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    affecting their future careers and so forth.

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    She is currently a finalist in the 2020 Lawyers Weekly Australian Law

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    Students 'Law Student of the Year' category and

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    we've all got our fingers crossed Margaret for that

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    outcome. We're yet to hear the results and you will have seen as well that she,

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    or you may not have seen, but she also appears

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    this evening on the Dean's Merit List, which is

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    the first time that we have had a Dean's Merit List and so we're

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    very excited to see the students who are appearing as part

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    of that recognition as well. So I'd like to hand

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    over to Margaret now thank you

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    Thanks so much for that Lesley! Thank you everyone for having me today and

    23:38

    congratulations to every award recipient

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    in this virtual room right now! I've been invited to share

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    a bit about my experiences at UTS, so I thought

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    I'd start at the beginning. I first set foot in a UTS Building

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    almost six years ago, as an 18 year old with a bit too much attitude. So the

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    gravity of my first days at uni never really struck me until recently.

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    When I started my plan was a simple one, I would study hard, I would hopefully

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    make some friends and after five years I would graduate

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    with two degrees that I'd probably forget about after I used

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    them to land my first job. It was a very clinical approach to a

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    university and law school that is anything but clinical.

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    This year in my role as the President of the Australian Law Students' Association (ALSA),

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    I work with students from law schools across Australia.

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    When I started my tenure, I had two main aspirations for ALSA.

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    First they'll become key stakeholders in the things that matter to us,

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    issues like diversity, mental health and bullying and sexual harassment in

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    the legal profession and second that in advocating on what we

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    expect in our law schools and the legal profession we lead by

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    example. It's a vision inspired by the things

    25:07

    that UTS does very well. Like all other industries this year, the

    25:13

    legal profession has been punctuated by changes and challenges. While studying

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    from home isn't an ideal situation to be in, I'm

    25:22

    proud to be part of a law school that continues to show leadership in our

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    community. In the aftermath of the Dyson Heydon

    25:30

    revelations, numerous members of our faculty were

    25:33

    involved in an open letter to the Attorney General calling for

    25:36

    reforms to the way judges are disciplined and appointed.

    25:41

    In response to the impacts of COVID-19, the UTS LSS

    25:45

    started an Elderly Pen Pals Initiative, where students sent messages of support

    25:50

    to senior members of the community and amongst many other things there's been

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    first year speed mentoring events, online careers seminars

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    and a new UTS Law podcast to keep us all connected and busy.

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    Such purpose and resilience is a testament to the character of our Law

    26:11

    School and the people who contribute to it now.

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    Although today is largely a celebration of our student

    26:19

    cohort, I want to also extend that

    26:21

    acknowledgement to all the members of our faculty.

    26:26

    They're the people behind the scenes who constantly

    26:29

    show up and support us. Last year I had the opportunity to represent UTS

    26:35

    in Oxford at the International Intellectual Property Moot.

    26:39

    Our coaches, Isabella and Evana, spent months working to turn our team with

    26:44

    three from a group who had no knowledge or

    26:48

    experience in the area of law into a team that made

    26:51

    the semi-finals. They reviewed draft after draft of our

    26:55

    submissions, sat through practice after practice and

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    while their names might not be on the slide show today,

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    they're the reason we made it as far as we did.

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    I don't think it's a stretch to say that everyone in this room will be able to

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    think of lecturers, academics, other members of faculty that

    27:14

    have motivated us to strive in ways that go beyond their job

    27:18

    description. Now like many other students over the

    27:23

    years, I found myself participating in things

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    like social sport, competitions and mentoring programs that I never thought

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    I would have been involved in when I first started uni.

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    The truth is I'm always going to be indebted to this law school

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    for some of the most remarkable experiences I've had

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    and some of the most incredible people in my life.

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    You know of course like many good love stories, I even met my boyfriend Jonathan

    27:50

    at Law Camp. It feels arbitrary then to reduce my

    27:55

    time at UTS down to a handful of highlights but I

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    think there are some certainties in all these experiences that are not

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    unique to me at UTS. The people we encounter are generous

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    with their time< the environment that we study in is one

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    where things like curiosity and teamwork help you thrive and from

    28:16

    day one there's a social justice imperative that

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    drives our community. These are the hallmarks of the culture

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    at UTS. And so while we might all be feeling a

    28:28

    bit of Zoom fatigue right now, I think it's a really, really exciting

    28:33

    time to be a UTS Law student. Thanks!

    28:39

    Thank you so much Margaret and you of course have been a student

    28:44

    who has been so involved and it's wonderful to see,

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    one of the things I love, is to see that richness of student life and the way in

    28:53

    which the initiatives that you and other

    28:56

    students who are active through the Law Student Society and

    28:59

    other activities to see that initiative that you take

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    and I want to say thank you as well for that really generous

    29:07

    tribute to my colleagues, to the academic staff and for the work that they do.

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    And it's perhaps a good opportunity for me to just mention

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    also again you will see it on the screen but

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    unfortunately we won't see the person on the stage we have an

    29:26

    annual prize which is awarded not to a

    29:30

    student but one to one of our academic colleagues and

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    it's the Lyndal Taylor and Emma Holt

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    Teaching Prize. And it's awarded to an academic who has

    29:45

    made some special contribution to legal education and I'm very pleased

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    to announce this evening that it's Robin Bowley, who not only

    29:58

    does puts a lot into the subjects that he teaches

    30:04

    but also who creates a lot of additional opportunities for students to

    30:10

    experience what it might be like to think about how

    30:14

    they apply law professionally and so forth. So a particular tribute

    30:19

    there tonight and in fact it's just coming up on the

    30:22

    screen now to Dr. Robin Bowley. Thank you again Margaret and

    30:28

    you of course and like so many of your cohort are some

    30:31

    of the students that are already having an impact and that we will watch

    30:35

    with pleasure in future years and so I'm glad that

    30:40

    you got over that clinical approach to your

    30:44

    law studies. That concludes our evening now and it would of course, in other

    30:55

    circumstances, we would be inviting you to some refreshments but

    30:58

    I hope that you might have an opportunity in your own

    31:01

    homes to celebrate in the way that you think is appropriate

    31:05

    the achievements that have been acknowledged here tonight.

    31:10

    So thank you all for attending this unusual Law Awards Ceremony!

    31:17

    Congratulations again to our students on behalf of the Faculty of Law and UTS.

    31:24

    Just to let you know there will be a dedicated website

    31:28

    with the details of all of tonight's award ceremony, the donors, the awards and

    31:33

    the recipients and that will be available next week and

    31:36

    we'll be emailing you a link

    31:40

    to that website. So for now, I will wish you a Good Evening once

    31:46

    again thank you and I do hope that you and your families

    31:51

    are all staying safe in this very difficult

    31:55

    and uncertain time. Thank you again!

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