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The scholarship that made studying at Sydney possible

10 March 2022
The Sydney Law School Dean's Scholarship
After visiting Australia, Hannah James dreamed of returning to study at Sydney. When she was awarded the Dean's Scholarship, she turned that dream into a reality.

Hannah was over the moon when she found out she had been awarded the Dean's Scholarship, a postgraduate scholarship which supports international students studying the Masters of Law or Juris Doctor. She was all set to start her study in Sydney. Unfortunately, the global pandemic had other ideas. 

After completing the first year of her Juris Doctor from her home in the US, Hannah has finally set foot on Sydney soil. We caught up with her to see how she's been settling in.

What made you choose the University of Sydney to study your Juris Doctor? 

After returning to the US from a year of travel in Australia, I completed my Bachelor's degree at Cornell University. While there, it became clear that I truly missed Australia, and that my next step should be studying law there. I reached out to practicing Australian lawyers as well as Cornell alumni to get a sense of how the different Australian universities were viewed. It was clear from my many conversations that the University of Sydney possessed a reputation for both academic rigor as well as student experience.

As a student, I believe that enrolling in challenging courses is a part of the academic experience. While grades are important, it's not all about the piece of paper we are awarded when a degree is complete. It is the learning and bettering of oneself that makes time at a University worthwhile. So, I focused my attentions on Sydney because I believed the academic experience would be the most rewarding there.

What does winning the Dean's Scholarship mean to you? 

Hannah James

Hannah James arrived in Sydney in December 2021 after completing the first year of her Juris Doctor remotely from the US. 

I applied for the Dean's Scholarship because I saw it as an opportunity to realize my dream of studying (and hopefully practicing) law in Australia. While I was hoping to receive the award, I was aware of how many incredible students would attend this university, and I knew that there would be a multitude of qualified candidates who could easily receive the scholarship.

The fact that I was the person who was granted this opportunity is something I will always be incredibly humbled by. The scholarship has already allowed me to make connections with incredible people who are passionate about the law as well as the law students who will hopefully soon continue the tradition of legal excellence that emanates from this university.

On a personal level, this scholarship is the sole thing that made my studying law in Australia possible. I simply do not have the words to convey the impact it has had, and will continue to have, on my life.

You started your degree online, and have now joined us on campus. What are you looking forward to most about being in Sydney?

I have befriended many students who were (or are presently) in the situation I was in with being unable to travel to Australia. I can say that finally being able to get here was one of the happiest moments of my life - a moment which felt like the culmination of hard work, patience, and heap of luck.

While we have only had one week of in-person classes, I am ecstatic to be interacting with my fellow students in person. To finally get the chance to work and study in the same space is so exciting! I have also always loved listening to lectures in person, because I felt I couldn't get the same connection to the professors or the material over a screen.

I can certainly say that my journey to become a law student at Sydney started long before I was actually accepted here, and that sometimes the study experience has not been how I initially imagined it. However, now that I am here, I plan to take advantage of every opportunity I am afforded. No matter the challenges presented, every experience is one we can learn from and grow from.

I simply do not have the words to convey the impact (the scholarship) has had, and will continue to have, on my life.
Hannah James, Dean's Scholar
Jessup Moot team

Hannah (second from right) with the Jessup Moot team.

What's next for you? 

I was awarded the opportunity to complete in the Jessup mooting competition over the break, and it was one of the most incredible experiences I have had at Sydney thus far. Having never mooted before, Jessup really created in me a passion for oral advocacy that I did not yet know existed. I am interested in learning more about the pathways toward becoming a barrister that many Sydney alumni have traversed, and I am hoping to continue to take advantage of all the experiences, such as Jessup mooting, that the University supplies.

After I graduate, I am hoping to work in the Courts system somewhere. Specifically, I would love the chance to work as a tipstaff because of the incredible legal research opportunities which exist for those roles.


Sydney Law School has a wide range of scholarships available to support students. Explore what's on offer

Facts & figures

  • #14 in the world for law (2021 QS world subject rankings)
  • World Champions Jessup Cup 2021, 2017, 2015, 2011, 2007, 1996
  • $500,000 in scholarships available

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