Sydney Law School student fighting for equity and community

7 March 2023
Celebrating the women of Sydney Law School
In honour of International Women’s Day, we spoke with SULS president Naz Sharifi, a proud Hazara and Australian woman who is fighting for social justice while paving her way in law.
Naz Sharifi

What does the newest generation of women in law look like? What are they passionate about? We spoke with Naz Sharifi, who shared her journey with us.

Naz is a proud Hazara and Australian woman currently in her final year of a combined Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts, majoring in International Relations.

She is the current President of SULS and is also a Board Director at the University of Sydney Union.

She is passionate about advocacy for young people and women, particularly those from diverse backgrounds.

Can you describe your journey to studying law?

Choosing to study law for me was a deeply personal decision.  Growing up as a Hazara refugee, I recognised the impact the law has on so many communities.

Like many students from migrant and refugee backgrounds, interactions with the legal system were not abstract concepts, but a daily consideration, a daily reality.

The experiences of seeing my family and community navigate complex and often unjust immigration systems, inaccessible legal services, and systematic barriers were confronting and often frustrating.

However, I have also had the privilege of witnessing remarkable advocates – particularly women in my community – pioneer the fight for better and fairer systems.

I have been inspired by the same women who have faced exacerbated systematic barriers and marginalisation and yet continued to fight for a world where access to education, freedom of choice, and a fair application of justice is the norm for everyone.
Naz Sharifi
Naz Sharifi sits outside the Sydney Law School

While I cannot recall the exact lightbulb moment of when I decided to study law, it simply feels like an accumulation of all my experiences propelling me to pursue a legal education with the desire to advocate for a more equitable legal system and be part of the decision-making processes that impacts our communities.

What are your goals and priorities as president of SULS?

SULS plays a crucial role in every law student’s life and our work directly or indirectly impacts them at some point in their degree.

This year, one of my key priorities is to continue facilitating a strong sense of community for law students from all walks of life. There has undeniably been, and continues to be, a certain perception about Law School and involvement in SULS.

I hope that through the diversity of our Executive, our many programs and initiatives, and the community we create, we can change that perception to ensure all students feel welcomed and included.

We are placing a greater emphasis on social justice initiatives, increasing engagement with First Nations students, expanding our International Student portfolio, and working towards better mental health and equity programs.

I hope that it translates to Law School feeling a little (or a lot) more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible to all students - regardless of their degree structure, background, and interests.

What does being a woman in law mean to you?

Whilst it is hard to reflect upon being a woman in law without acknowledging some of the challenges, like institutional barriers and the imposter syndrome of being a woman in a historically male dominated industry, it is equally important to celebrate the way some of these challenges have facilitated a strong sense of community, support, and mentorship.

This sense of community has ensured that female law students, particularly those from diverse backgrounds, have adequate support in navigating law school and the legal industry.

Throughout my Sydney Law School journey I have had the privilege of studying alongside, and being mentored and inspired by, some of the smartest and most supportive women in the legal industry, and I hope this culture of collegiality and support continues to the next generation of women in law.

What advice would you give to a prospective female student thinking about studying law?

Don’t be afraid to be disruptive. Law is not as rigid as it seems and there is a remarkable community that will help you navigate the peaks and troughs.

Be open to new possibilities and opportunities and be unapologetically you in any setting.

Want to support future female leaders in law? Donate today to the Ada Evans memorial scholarship.

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