Erin Ritchie’s motivation for studying law is simply the desire to see a ‘fair and safe community for all’.
Aiming to complete her studies in 2019, Erin is undertaking a combined Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Arts degree and is an energetic participant in student life who happily takes on diverse roles, responsibilities and international opportunities.
This year, Erin has already notched up two more milestones in her remarkable list of achievements.
In March, she was awarded an Honourable Mention for Best Speaker at the prestigious 2018 Vis Moot (held in Hong Kong and Vienna) followed by her nomination as Law Student of the Year Award finalist in the Law Institute of Victoria’s 2018 Legal Awards.
Erin says her passion for the law – and its link to fair and safe communities – stems from wanting to play a role in the systems of processes and systems that help resolve conflict.
‘The laws of a jurisdiction must reflect the rights and interests of the people it seeks to govern and provide an appropriate expectation of behaviour within the community,’ she explains.
‘Law is often called on when two humans have a conflict - which can be family law, a criminal case, intellectual property dispute or commercial law. Because it’s not realistic to live in a society that’s void of these interactions, the law needs to provide equality and justice … no matter what sector of the legal profession is involved.’
Erin says there were two key reasons why she chose to study at Deakin – practical experience and a vibrant on-campus environment.
‘There are so many opportunities at Deakin – whether it is international experiences, placements or volunteer opportunities – you just have to take them and say yes! For me, Deakin felt right and it had everything I needed.’
Some of opportunities Erin has accepted include President of Deakin Law Students’ Society; student representative on Deakin Law School Advisory Board, Deakin Business and Law Faculty Student Experience and Engagement Committee, and Deakin Law Alumni Chapter; Australian Law Students’ Association (ALSA) Conference Convenor, and Deakin University Community Bank Advisory Committee.
Last year, Erin competed in three major negotiation competitions where she took out winning place in the Deakin Law Students’ Society – Herbert Smith Freehills Deals Competition and runner-up position in the grand final of the ALSA competitions. She was also on Deakin’s representative team in the Herbert Smith Freehills – National Law University International Negotiation Competition that was held in India.
‘It is hard to pinpoint one exact element of my time at Deakin that has, so far, stood out. But what I have enjoyed most is the wide variety of experiences I’ve been able to undertake,’ she says.
Although she is an on-campus student, Erin also makes the most of Deakin’s Cloud Campus which helps her to keep on top of her studies.
‘Undertaking placements, travel experiences, volunteering and working can take a toll on the ability to attend all classes. That’s why it’s great that Deakin provides equal resources so that no matter what campus you study at, you can benefit from Deakin’s Cloud learning either as a full time Cloud student or to simply catch up on a missed class,’ she says.
International exchanges and real-life work experience have been an integral part of Erin’s study journey in both law and arts.
In 2015 she undertook a semester-long program at the University of Leicester, UK studying international law, US foreign policy and media practices and the following year she participated in the America and the International System Study Tour where she travelled to Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC during the USA’s 2016 election period.
Building a strong portfolio of hands-on skills is a crucial part of a Deakin law degree and over the past two years, Erin has completed a legal internship at the Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre, a work placement at Victorian Legal Aid Ringwood, and a Barrister Shadowing Program with the Victorian Bar.
She also completed a creative arts internship with the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation where she continues to work part-time as a marketing and fundraising coordinator.
‘All these experiences have provided me with practical opportunities that enhance my academic studies. They’ve also allowed me to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures, both within Australia and overseas. I know that when I look back on my time at Deakin, these are the experiences I’ll remember most fondly,’ she says.
While Erin is yet to settle on a particular career path, she says her aim is use her skills in a role that brings both happiness and fulfilment.
‘Most likely this won’t be in the same position or organisation throughout my whole career but for now I want to continue to focus on my short-term goals and take up opportunities as they’re presented.