The annual Alumni Awards shine a spotlight on the outstanding achievements of The University of Sydney’s exceptional alumni, from recent graduates to those established in their careers.
In 2022 Sydney Law School alumni, Niny Borges and Olivia Morris, were recognised for their leadership, outstanding achievements, and devotion to pursuing causes that make a difference.
These trailblazing women of law have shaped their careers around a mutual passion to create meaningful change, demonstrating the power and dynamism of a law degree.
Alumni Award for International Achievement
Niny’s commitment to making a difference began as a law student where she tutored Indigenous students to assist their entry into University.
Just a year after graduating, Niny then played an integral role in the Timor-Leste legal team negotiating the Timor Sea Treaty with the Australian Government, resulting in the lion’s share of the natural resources going to Timor-Leste.
She was part of the Timorese diaspora in Australia, who helped efforts as the country neared Independence, and she spent seven years advising the Timor-Leste Prime Minister and Minister for Natural Resources on petroleum-related matters.
Today she is Vice President, Global Head of Legal Upstream at Equinor, where she is an executive helping to define Equinor’s energy transition and path towards net zero carbon emissions.
While Niny has built an established career in energy law, she has continued to support the next generation of lawyers. In 2019, Niny lectured our law students who were studying offshore in Norway about her experiences as a lawyer in the petroleum sector and then in renewable energy and sustainability. Students described her lecture as “one of the most inspiring sessions in all my time at university.” Significantly, a third of the female students who attended Niny’s lecture have gone on to practice energy law.
Working in the energy industry where gender imbalance continues to dominate, I’m extremely pleased that I have been able to inspire and bring forward a new generation of female energy lawyers.
The Convocation Medal for undergraduate leadership
Olivia chose to pursue a career in the law because she believed it was the most powerful avenue to empower and advocate, leading to meaningful change.
She is passionate about gender equality, the evolving media environment, and public interest litigation, and she is committed to volunteering for projects that she considers capable of making an impact.
She only graduated last year but already her experience includes co-founding a national online student-run publication, Et Cetera, and volunteering for Teach Us Consent, where she contributed to Chanel Contos’ work to change consent laws in NSW.
Olivia is currently a Lawyer in Allens’ disputes and investigations team after starting at the firm in 2018 as a paralegal.
Olivia received first class honours and the University Medal in Law in 2020. There have only been 34 female medallists in law since 1894 at Sydney Law School, so Olivia sits amongst a distinguished and historic cohort.
It is important to celebrate women in law given that there remains a large disparity between women and men in senior legal roles, particularly at the Bar. This is so notwithstanding that more women study law than men.
Ada Evans was the first woman to graduate with a Bachelor of Laws from Sydney Law School in 1902. In 2022, 120 years on, we celebrate Ada and all of the changemakers that have followed in her footsteps.