Outstanding law graduate attributes success to real world experience and a dedicated support network

Outstanding law graduate attributes success to real world experience and a dedicated support network

Emerson Hynard awarded 2020 University Medal for top performance in law degree

Taking every opportunity in his stride during his days at the University of Wollongong (UOW), law graduate Emerson Hynard believes real world experience and a dedicated support network were key to his success.

Emerson juggled academic excellence throughout his study, a double degree in Bachelor of Law (Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce (Distinction), with a drive to gain as much practical experience as possible.

Emerson recently graduated with the 2020 University Medal in Law, which is awarded to the student who receives the top mark for the school during the graduating year.

Emerson credits his holistic approach to university life to his success. The high-achieving UOW graduate, who topped eight subjects during his studies, is now an Associate to a Federal Court judge.

“I think it’s a combination of discipline, hard work, but also to have an escape. I had a really good social network, my friends were by my side all the way and so were my parents,” Emerson said.

“It was a good balance of being able to study really hard, but then also being able to go to the beach or the pub on a Friday afternoon and have a beer with your mates and tell yourself ‘it’s okay to relax every now and then’.”

Emerson’s academic excellence started early. He was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Academic Excellence Scholarship for his HSC results and the Undergraduate Scholarship from the then Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts for academic excellence and leadership. These scholarships allowed Emerson to focus on his studies in the early years of his degree, as well as follow his passion for overseas travel.

Each summer break, he took the opportunity to explore new countries, making friends and connections across the globe.

“Travel allowed me to gain insights into new cultures. In my view, this is equally as important as classroom learning,” Emerson said.

“There was one year we left the final exam and got straight on the plane. And then got back the day before session started again.”

“It was a really exciting time, I’ve got friends scattered all over the world now.”

Emerson was awarded the Allens Prize for the most outstanding academic performance in first-year law and the accolades followed throughout his university years. As well as topping eight law subjects, he was awarded the Alumni Bookshop Prize for the highest WAM in his penultimate year of studies.

Emerson also made the most of campus life, participating in the UOW Law Students’ Society as both a mentor and later the Vice-President (Administration).

During his studies, Emerson worked as a paralegal at Allens in Sydney and later as a clerk at Linklaters in London. As a paralegal, Emerson had the opportunity to work alongside a regulation technology start-up company and some of Australia’s big banks on an innovative AI project.

“That really sparked my interest in examining the role the law should play in regulating emerging technologies in the digital age,” Emerson said.

Most importantly, however, Emerson said his success can be attributed to being surrounded by incredible educators and mentors.

“The willingness of the law school academics to assist wherever possible demonstrated to me that they had genuine interest and commitment to their students’ learning and success,” Emerson said

“Each of my tutors taught me to think critically and encouraged me to challenge the status quo. A particular highlight of my degree has been completing my honours thesis under the guise of one of UOW’s leading scholars, Yvonne Apolo, on the intersection of equity and information privacy law.”

With the encouragement of the academics at the School of Law, Emerson pursed an Associateship with the Honourable Justice MBJ Lee at the Federal Court of Australia, who is now another strong mentor in Emerson’s life.

“It is the most rewarding job because you are working under the guidance of a great and knowledgeable mentor who is open to debating the law. He also has a genuine interest in my career path, so that is really exciting, he really cares about what I do, and ensuring that I’m continually learning and being challenged.”