UWS law graduate off to Harvard

Date: 12/05/2009

University of Western Sydney law graduate and former associate to retired High Court Justice Michael Kirby, Leonie Young, has been awarded the opportunity of a lifetime to undertake postgraduate study at Harvard University as a Knox Fellow.

Leonie is the first UWS law graduate to be awarded a prestigious Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship, a scholarship which will allow her to study a Master of Laws (LL.M) at the well-known American institution. She will be heading off to Harvard in August this year.

The highly prized Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship provides funding for students from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to complete postgraduate study at Harvard University. Knox Fellowships are typically awarded to 15 newly admitted Harvard students each year, including six from the U.K. and three each from Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Recipients are selected on the basis of future promise of leadership in their chosen field.

Leonie is no stranger to success. In 2007, she graduated from UWS with first class honours and was awarded the University Medal. Following graduation, she was the chosen candidate from more than 300 applicants to be offered the prestigious appointment as an associate to the Honourable Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG.

Leonie's appointment was particularly significant as she was the last associate to Justice Kirby before he retired from the High Court in February 2009.

"Working as an associate provided a rare opportunity to see the work of Justice Kirby and the High Court from a perspective most will never see," says Ms Young.

"Justice Kirby is undoubtedly one of Australia's most distinguished and respected judges, so it was very exciting to have the opportunity to work with him so closely and to learn from him."

Professor Michael Adams, Head of the UWS School of Law, is extremely proud of Leonie's achievements.

"We are very pleased to have our first class honours student and university medallist go on to succeed and achieve such great career heights in a short amount of time," says Professor Adams.

"Leonie has continued to succeed by becoming the last associate to the Hon Justice Michael Kirby at the High Court of Australia, working for the esteemed NSW Bar Association and now receiving the Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship. Her accomplishments underpin the strong foundation of the UWS law program."

Leonie says the idea of further study came about whilst working for Justice Kirby and talking to the Judge himself, as well as other Justices and fellow associates, about further study possibilities overseas.

"The more I thought about it, the more I realised that overseas postgraduate study would open the door to further opportunities and learning experiences both in Australia and overseas.

"I looked into the various overseas postgraduate law courses on offer, and after much thought and discussion with various colleagues and mentors within the profession, I decided to apply for admission to the Harvard LL.M. program.

"I felt that Harvard offered the best combination of diversity and expertise in a range of subjects which interest me and would provide me with an opportunity to not only learn about a foreign legal system, but also to develop the ability to think about and appreciate the law in a different way, in the context of both the United States and Australia."

Applications for admission to Harvard for the 2009/2010 academic year and the Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship closed in November 2008, and the process was quite lengthy. Not only was Leonie required to submit a great deal of documentation in support of her applications, she also had to wait almost six months to find out whether she had been successful.

"When I received notification that I had been admitted to Harvard and was also the successful recipient of the scholarship, I was extremely excited. I feel very lucky and honoured to have the opportunity to complete my LL.M. at an institution such as Harvard and to do so as a Knox Fellow is a very special privilege," says Ms Young.

"When I initially decided to study law and was comparing various programs on offer, I'd heard that UWS went 'beyond the theory and the textbooks'. This was a big factor in my decision to study at the UWS School of Law. I wanted to study at a university that recognised the importance of being able to apply the law in real-life situations and offered a law course which had a strong practical focus.

"I am very pleased and proud of my time at UWS, and the experiences and opportunities that I had as part of my study."

Leonie's current role with the NSW Bar Association will finish in July, giving her a few weeks prior to her August departure to prepare for her time at Harvard.



Media Officer

Kristy Gleeson
02 9678 7085, 0414 018 498