The unlimited pathway that stems from ambition and opportunity

31 August 2020
Sydney Law School alumnus awarded the Justice Peter Hely Scholarship
Alumnus, Mitchell Cleaver, talks about his law school student experience and the global doors that open up with a Sydney law degree.

Mitchell Cleaver

Mitchell Cleaver, LLB 2016

Mitchell Cleaver's law school journey shows the incredible pathways that open up to Sydney Law School students and alumni, and that no dreams are too big.

Mitchell has had an inspiring law school experience. In 2016, Mitchell graduated from Sydney Law School with a Bachelor of Laws, and a Master of Law (First Class Honours) from the University of Cambridge, where he placed 4th in the Order of Merit and received the Glanville Williams Prize for Law, the Sir Peter Gadsen Prize for Law, and a Scholarship in Law. This year, he is on his way to the University of Oxford to pursue postgraduate study. 

I’m incredibly excited to be going to Oxford and to work with my doctoral supervisors, Professor Joshua Getzler and Professor Ben McFarlane. I never thought I’d have an opportunity like this. I'm immensely grateful for the support of the Sydney Law School and the Justice Peter Hely Scholarship which made this possible.
Sydney Law School Alumnus, Mitchell Cleaver

How was this made possible?

In 2016, Mitchell was one of the pioneering students to take part in the International Pathways Program offered by Sydney Law School. The program provided him with a once in a lifetime opportunity to complete his final semester of studies at Cambridge University. Upon completion, Mitchell graduated with a Sydney Bachelor degree and Cambridge Master degree.

In 2017 he worked as a Tipstaff at the Supreme Court of New South Wales and since 2018 has practiced as a solicitor at Allens.

In 2020, as an alumnus, Mitchell was awarded the Justice Peter Hely Scholarship from Sydney Law School, which has opened up the pathway for him to pursue postgraduate studies at Oxford University. Mitchell’s doctoral study will examine the interrelation of substance and procedure in the historical development of equitable doctrines and remedies, particularly trusts.

During his time at Sydney Law School, where Mitchell excelled in his studies, he embraced law school life and took part in a range of extra-curricular activities on offer. "Some of the major highlights for me were getting involved in the Sydney Law Revue, the Refugee Language Tutoring Program, and the German language society", Mitchell said.

What attracted you to select the University of Sydney to study a Bachelor of Laws?

After high school I was hoping to pursue my interest in history and languages, but also to try something new and challenging, like law. The University of Sydney has an outstanding reputation for law and an engaged student body with a huge range of clubs and societies. The flexible double-degree structure also opened up a lot of opportunities, including a six month language exchange to Germany. 

What was the highlight of your studies here?

The teaching was exceptional. It was a real privilege to study under leading academics like Professor Matthew Conaglen, Professor John Stumbles and Associate Professor Jamie Glister. They encouraged my intellectual curiosity and later gave me the confidence to pursue my interest in teaching. 

What are your plans for the future?

I intend to return to full-time legal practice and to continue teaching in Australia. Legal education is incredibly important and there’s a lot of discussion about how it should adapt to a rapidly changing world and look to the future. I hope to encourage students to look to the past as well: to develop a love of legal history and to recognise contingency in legal rules and an appreciation of their broader context.

I benefited greatly from educators at Sydney who synthesised history, theory and practice and hope to do the same for others.

What advice would you give to school leavers today looking to pursue a career in law?

There are so many paths to a law degree and so many ways to apply the degree to make a difference. I’d encourage students to speak to as many people as they can and think deeply about what perspective and values they bring to the Australian profession.  

Sydney Law School offers support and commitment beyond the confines of the campus, offering a range of pathways for high achieving students and alumni to continue their studies abroad. Sydney Law School has strong partnerships with top universities around the world, providing students and alumni with opportunities to further strengthen their legal knowledge, and enrichen their life experience.

The Sydney Law School International Pathways Program is a collaboration with the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and National University of Singapore (NUS), providing the opportunity for our high-achieving final-year students to complete their final semester at Sydney Law School, at another leading law school. On completion, the students are awarded a Sydney Bachelor of Laws degree or Juris Doctor, and a masters degree from University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, or NUS. 

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