Deakin law student Ben Wighton has won the prestigious Supreme Court Prize for best student in 2016.
Presented by Chief Justice Marilyn Warren AC at a recent ceremony in the Supreme Court Library, the prize recognises the outstanding academic achievements of the top graduating students from seven Victorian universities.
‘The Supreme Court Prize is the most prestigious academic prize for students graduating in law. It is a hallmark of outstanding excellence and intellectual ability. The Prize has proven to be a symbolic indicator that the recipient will go on to play an important part on the bench, at the Bar, in the profession or in public life,’ said the Chief Justice.
With a lifelong ambition to study law, Ben says he chose Deakin because of its commercial and practically-focused law programs.
‘It also offered a great environment and excellent, flexible learning options. I took some units online and it really wasn’t any different to learning on-campus - the forums and group assignments were especially good. Deakin does a great job in providing cloud learning.’
Some of the highlights of Ben’s law studies included participating in a first year moot court and taking out several faculty awards including the Intellectual Property Prize, Criminal Procedure Prize and Bank Management Prize.
He’s now employed with Melbourne-based law firm King & Wood Mallesons on an 18-month traineeship program where he’s a member of the firm’s competition and consumer law team.
‘I love working here and the everyday challenge of putting my studies into practice. A traineeship is definitely the next and most important step in my training – we rotate through three different areas and it’s very comprehensive.’
While Ben says it was a ‘total surprise’ to receive the Supreme Court Prize he was delighted to have his hard work acknowledged.
‘I really have to say a big thank you to Deakin for delivering me with a thorough and excellent law education that’s also provided great encouragement and opportunities.’
Supreme Court Prize winners are often highly sought-after recruits, with many securing graduate positions in top law firms and associate roles for judges in the High Court of Australia and Supreme Court of Victoria.
Many past winners have gone on to lead distinguished careers as judges, lawyers, and tertiary educators and lecturers in the law including:
- Sir Robert Menzies, KT, AK, CH, PC, QC, FAA, FRS, Prime Minister of Australia 1939-41, 49-66
- Sir William Irvine, GCMG, Premier of Victoria 1902-04. He also served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Governor, of Victoria
- Sir Rupert ‘Dick’ Hamer, AC, KCMG, ED, Premier of Victoria 1972-81
- Sir Isaac Isaacs, GCB, GCMG, KC, Governor-General 1931-36. He also served as Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia
- Sir Zelman Cowen, AK, GCMG, GCVO, QC, Governor-General 1977-82. He was also one of Melbourne Law School’s longest serving deans
- Justice Mark Weinberg AO, Justice Emilios Kyrou, Justice Anne Ferguson, Justice Stephen Kaye AM, Justice Stephen McLeish and Judicial Registrar Patricia Matthews, all current judicial officers of the Supreme Court of Victoria.