Olivia Morris has been selected as the 2022 recipient of the Peter Cameron Sydney Oxford Scholarship.
As the recipient, Olivia will travel to the UK and undertake postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford where she will study a Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL).
What did Olivia achieve in order to receive such a competitive and renowned scholarship?
Olivia’s academic accomplishments as a student at the Sydney Law school included being the 2020 University Medallist in Law and receiving several other academic prizes. She volunteered in a number of positions, was a successful mooter and graduated with honours.
In 2020, alongside teammate Ashkhan Khoshab, Olivia was declared the winner of the annual Negotiations, an exciting and dynamic competition that challenges participants to think on their feet, strategise and bargain.
Whilst managing her studies at the Sydney Law School Olivia also co-founded an online student publication, Et Cetera, in 2017.
Olivia has also volunteered for Teach Us Consent, managing a 20-plus person legal review team responsible for reviewing over 7000 testimonials submitted by sexual assault survivors for defamation risk.
We spoke to Olivia about her time at Sydney Law School and her future plans.
I remember finding it difficult to choose between universities as an 18-year-old. I recall asking around for advice and found several lawyers who implored me not to become a lawyer, whilst insisting that I choose Sydney Law – an irony that they didn't seem to appreciate. I ended up choosing to pursue a Sydney Law degree because of its longstanding reputation as a respected, well-taught, and rigorous degree. Obviously, in hindsight, I am extraordinarily glad that I chose it. I am very grateful to the many brilliant lecturers and tutors whom I encountered along the way, and who have provided invaluable support, including by encouraging me to pursue further study.
Some of my fondest memories of Law School are hanging out on the lawns and chatting in the library. In terms of an academic highlight, completing an Honours thesis in my final year was rewarding. I particularly enjoyed engaging analytically with a subject area, rather than just learning it for an exam, and it was satisfying to produce something tangible after several years of study. I enjoyed competing in internal moots and winning the 2020 Negotiations competition with Ashkan Khoshab and finally, graduating with the University Medal was an unexpected, but thrilling, highlight.
I never expected to be in the position to complete the BCL. I am very grateful for the Peter Cameron Oxford Scholarship and appreciate how fortunate I am to be completing further study overseas. The plan is to fully embrace my time at Oxford, study some subject areas that I did not have the opportunity to delve into during the LLB, and see what all the fuss is about English pubs.
There are many benefits to a Masters degree, but two stand out to me – first, that you are taught to examine why the law is the way it is (rather than just what it is) and second, that you are exposed to many areas of the law that you may not have otherwise considered practicing. Unlike all those lawyers who told me not to become a lawyer, I am still keen to pursue a career in the law after a few years in practice. Whether I end up in commercial law, at the Bar, in public interest litigation or doing something else entirely, I am sure that the BCL will open doors and help me progress down my chosen path.
One of the reasons why I feel privileged to have attended Sydney Law School is that there are a lot of alumni to look up to. I remember reading about Alyssa Glass and Alice Zhou’s achievements at Oxford in 2020, which really inspired me to investigate further study. I chose to pursue the BCL simply because I enjoy studying Law and did not feel like that chapter of my life was ready to be closed. I feel like I have a lot more to learn.
I wouldn’t be afraid to ask for advice and guidance from those who have already completed further study. If not for the generosity of several alumni who were willing to meet me for coffee and take my calls, I don’t think I would have felt like I knew enough about the BCL to really commit to applying. The nice thing about Sydney Law alumni is that they’re generally willing to lend a hand and pass down what they’ve learnt. For the record, I’m more than happy to answer any questions once I’ve been through the experience myself!