The Wentworth Medal was first established in 1854 from a gift of £200 from WC Wentworth, and was rewarded to the best essay in English prose.
Today, the medal, open to students across the University, is worth $20,000 and rewards an outstanding essay addressing a nominated question.
This year, that question was, ‘An appropriate response to climate change requires that we draw on lessons from the physical sciences, social sciences and humanities.’
We spoke to Georgia Reid about what winning the Wentworth Medal meant to her, and she shared her experience as a Juris Doctor student at Sydney Law School.
Simultaneously pursuing a career in law and postgraduate study has been the best decision I have ever made.
I am thrilled and humbled to have won the Wentworth Medal. I often read entries during my Juris Doctor and undergraduate degree and told myself that I would enter, but I never managed to summon the courage to do so until the final year of this degree.
As someone with limited knowledge of the physical sciences — and, I’m ashamed to admit, the science behind climate change — this topic was a challenge. But, I viewed it as an opportunity to learn more about a topic that many of us so urgently need to confront. My acute awareness of my weaknesses when it comes to science meant that I approached the essay from a novel angle, looking instead at the metaphysical implications of climate change.
It was not an easy essay to research and write, given the gravity of the subject matter. But, I am grateful that the Wentworth Medal asks both authors and audience to address pressing issues, and to examine them through unorthodox lenses.
I completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney, and wasn’t ready to give up on study. The quality of the education at the University is unparalleled, and I had always planned to return to pursue postgraduate study.
The other Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Laws students are all so incisive, clever, diligent and friendly.
The Juris Doctor is a challenging, fascinating, life-changing degree that has expanded my horizons in ways I could never have imagined. The academic staff are mind-bogglingly accomplished, and so very willing to engage personally and meaningfully with all of their students.
Studying law has been remarkable, especially with so many brilliant academics at the helm. However, I experienced the most enjoyment when I began to put everything that I have learned into practice.
Doing the Philip C. Jessup Moot in 2020 was a singular experience. It involved months of toil over the intricacies of international law, alongside a team of four exceptionally talented students. It was so rewarding to speak in the High Court of Australia in front of Justice Gageler and test out the arguments that we had spent so long tinkering with.
Jessup was a standout experience, words don’t do it justice.
It was also a highlight of my Juris Doctor experience to take part in the International Maritime Law Arbitration Moot in Rotterdam. I became intimately familiar with the intricacies of English Admiralty Law, and I met so many law students from across the globe in the competition.
One of my favourite aspects of the degree has been the sense of camaraderie in the Juris Doctor cohort. I have found many life-long friends throughout the course of this degree, and I am very fortunate to have had their friendship and support throughout.
I have enjoyed the degree so much that I’m reluctant to farewell my studies.
I’ve been fortunate to receive Associateship and Tipstaff positions with Chief Justice Allsop in the Federal Court of Australia, and Chief Justice Ward in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. I have also accepted a graduate position with Allens Linklaters.
At some point I’m hoping to return to postgraduate study. In an ideal world I’ll be able to travel overseas to pursue a Master of Laws.
The study of law is fascinating and rewarding, and has provided me with so many exciting opportunities. If it is something you are considering, it is worth pursuing it.
It is an honour, and brings me a great deal of pride. I am in awe of the brilliant students at the University, and amazed to see the names of all the esteemed alumni of the law school who go on to have illustrious careers at the bar, on the bench, or at the High Court (to name a few).