A lifelong passion for music as well as popular TV shows like Succession are just some of the unlikely tools Supreme Court Prize winner Jacqui Fetter says helped her achieve the honour.
Although her pathway to law wasn’t immediately clear, Deakin University’s recipient for the 2022 Prize said she can see now how the skills and life experiences she gathered along the way have supported her achievements.
"Throughout my childhood and schooling life, I was always a musician, and that was my whole identity, that was what I was going to pursue,” she said.
After first studying a Bachelor of Music Industry, then shifting into a dedicated music performance degree, Ms Fetter began to feel lost. It was during an extended overseas trip that she began to feel pulled in a new direction.
Surprising friends and family, Ms Fetter announced she would return to university to study law.
“I actually can’t remember what specifically led me to that final decision,” she said. ‘I do remember as I got older becoming more curious about the world. It was really my curiosity that sparked my interest in law; how Australia works, how the world works.”
“I’ll never regret that decision, or that I was bit older when I started. When I came to do law, I hit the ground running and I was really there because I very much wanted to be.”
The 27-year-old said there were many transferrable skills between music and law, including dedication and work ethic.
“A lot of musicians are perfectionists and that’s definitely an element of my personality,” she said.
“When you’re about to perform, you need to be sure that you know the song inside out, and that when it comes to the day, you’re ready to go.”
The Supreme Court Prize is the most prestigious academic prize for law students in Victoria. It was first awarded in 1864 and honours the highest-ranked law student at each of Victoria’s eight law schools.
Ms Fetter will officially receive the award at a Supreme Court ceremony on July 19.
Alongside her non-traditional journey, Ms Fetter has some unconventional advice for prospective law students.
“My advice would be to find something in each subject that you enjoy,” she said. “I think it’s about really trying to make connections with real life. And for me, it was through TV shows.
“So, for example when I did corporate law, I was thinking – ‘How can I find an exciting way for me to understand this?’ and I ended up watching Succession. And when I did evidence, I started watching Janet King. So, I tried to find something relevant that would make it interesting and applicable and practical.”
Despite all the years of hard work that led up to Ms Fetter’s graduation, she was still surprised to win the Supreme Court Prize.
“I was in such disbelief,” she said. “I thought I’d done well at uni but getting the Supreme Court prize is extra special, I’d say.
“For the first couple of hours after learning of the news, I didn’t tell anyone because I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t a mistake or that I’d get a follow-up email saying it was an accident.”
Ms Fetter has joined top tier law firm MinterEllison and is currently completing her practical legal training. She expects to be admitted later this year.
As for what her future career holds, Ms Fetter is taking a philosophical approach.
“I used to have a five-year plan, but since Covid ... I’ve decided that sometimes it’s better to just think a year ahead,” she said. “I suppose my immediate plan is to get through the graduate program, and to feel confident in myself and feel I’m improving with every week and every month.”