Gabriel Jacks graduated with a Bachelor of Laws with Honours / Bachelor of Arts on May 15, 2019. She is the recipient of the 2019 Supreme Court of Victoria Prize and the Supreme Court of Victoria Exhibition Prize. At graduation she also received the DM Myers University Medal which is awarded annually to the two most outstanding honours graduates from each College. Here are her reflections on law school, honours and the next steps in her legal career.
I grew up in Bendigo, and completed the first two years of my degree at the Bendigo campus. I moved to Melbourne in 2016 to finish my studies and enjoyed the experience of living on campus at Bundoora.
I studied a double degree of Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and Bachelor of Arts (Indonesian). I really enjoyed the broad range of electives offered that genuinely catered to my interests, as well as the practical subjects, which prepared me well for future jobs and clerkship applications. Above all, what I appreciated most during my time at La Trobe was the opportunity to learn from and develop relationships with academics who are at the forefront of their fields.
If I could describe my feelings towards writing a thesis from the outset, one word comes to mind: daunting. It was my first experience of completing a sustained, original piece of research and writing, an experience that you don’t typically get in undergraduate courses. There were many occasions throughout the year where it seemed impossible that I would ever get it completed. It was made worthwhile, though, by the sense of accomplishment when you can hold your thesis at the end of the year. The support and camaraderie of my friends who were also writing theses made a huge difference – our mutual complaining sessions were very cathartic! I am indebted to my supervisor, Pascale Chifflet, for her steady advice, guidance and encouragement throughout the process.
In 2019, I began working as a law graduate at King & Wood Mallesons. I am currently rotating in intellectual property litigation, working on a variety of patent, copyright trademark disputes. So far, I’m enjoying working life, although the adjustment from student life has sometimes been a challenge – by far the hardest thing is not being able to work at home in your pyjamas every day like when writing a thesis! Some of the skills I picked up during my honours studies have helped with my work so far. For example, in writing your thesis, you’re deep diving into a very specific issue and end up becoming an expert in your particular area. As a junior lawyer, your work demands the same level of thoroughness and diligence because your supervisor and client are relying on the strength of your research in covering off all bases.
I wasn’t aware that I would be receiving the Exhibition Prize until the evening of the ceremony, which made for a delightful surprise. It was very special occasion to celebrate the past five years with those closest to me. I particularly enjoyed meeting former Prize recipients who are now working in the different areas of the profession, and I left the ceremony feeling inspired to know that, although my formal studies have wrapped up for now, there are still plenty of opportunities to continue learning and growing.