For Deakin Law School (DLS) academic Cassandra Seery, a law career is an opportunity to make ‘an incredible difference.’
Cassandra is an associate lecturer in DLS and is also an Academic of the Year finalist in this year’s Australian Law Awards.
Hosted by Lawyers Weekly, in partnership with UNSW, the Australian Law Awards is now in its 18th year and celebrates the work of individuals and firms across major legal practice areas.
Cassandra is honored by the nomination which was made by a number of her peers.
‘As an early career academic, I am honoured to be nominated for such an award and am excited to be a finalist in the company of some truly inspiring legal academics,’ she says.
‘This award is an important acknowledgement by the profession that educators play an integral role in guiding and supporting the next generation of legal professionals’.
But it’s not the first time Cassandra has been recognised for her diligence.
In the final year of her Deakin law degree she was a Law Student of the Year finalist in both the Lawyers Weekly Awards and the Women in Law Awards and last year, her research into child rights put her in the finalist category for the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship.
Currently a doctoral candidate at Monash University, Cassandra says that while many assume that child rights relates exclusively to human rights law, it goes so much further.
‘My specialisation extends into a whole range of areas including torts, family law, child protection, international law, aboriginal affairs, constitutional and administrative law and migration law. This provides me with the ability to apply my knowledge as a lecturer in the units that I teach, but also to make a meaningful contribution in an area of law that effects some of the most vulnerable members of our society,’ she explains.
As a law student and graduate, Cassandra’s career goal was to simply make a difference.
‘I saw the law as not simply a piece of paper but something that shapes everything we do. It was a career that offered me the opportunity to advocate for others and find ways to make the world a better place. Lawyers meet clients at the most vulnerable point in their lives - the work we do not only assists them as individuals but also plays an important role in the function of our society,’ she says.
During her undergraduate studies at DLS she undertook valuable opportunities which included interning at the Supreme Court of Victoria, working as a legal research assistant with Amnesty International Australia’s Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Team, co-chairing the Law Institute of Victoria’s Editorial Committee, studying overseas and leading the Faculty of Business and Law Undergraduate Mentor Program.
‘Perhaps the most formative experience was undertaking Deakin’s Legal Internship unit where I interned with the Department of Health and Human Services in child protection. It was this experience that transformed my degree and led me on a path to academia.’
She went on to work in policy with the Department of Premier and Cabinet (Vic) in multicultural and aboriginal affairs where she led the Vulnerable Children portfolio before being approached to return to Deakin as an academic.
Now teaching across Deakin’s LLB and JD programs, Cassandra is Unit Chair for the Legal Internship unit - where she’s been working to improve and expand opportunities for students to gain professional experience - and she’s also involved in the DLS ‘Cloud First’ project.
‘As a former student who studied both on and off campus, I have a unique insight into the learning experiences of our students and am passionate about ensuring our Cloud students are able to engage as meaningfully with their degree as those who are on campus. Studying law can be a challenge and I am proud to be working to make the student experience an amazing one.’