An account of Prue Kenny’s time at Deakin reads more like a travel log than an academic journey.
While chalking up a combined degree in commerce and law, Prue managed to undertake an internship in Tanzania, an international clerkship in Moscow, a study stint in Denmark and a study program to India. She also spent 10 months in the US on a basketball scholarship and was able to continue her studies because Deakin allowed her to relocate her exams.
Now working as Legal Counsel for World Vision Australia, Prue has accrued a wealth of global legal experience that began with an internship where she worked as a volunteer legal intern at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, established by the United Nations (UN).
‘This was set up by the UN soon after the genocide, to bring to trial the criminals involved in the massacres. I worked for the judges in the chambers section of the tribunal and we were allocated to one of the ministers involved in the genocide – this was very confronting and challenging. However experiencing the Tanzanian lifestyle and networking opportunities were among the many bonuses of this internship,’ she explains.
In the penultimate year of her course – when law students apply for their seasonal clerkships – Prue was selected by global law firm Baker & McKenzie to participate in a summer clerkship.
After completing the clerkship, she was then offered a graduate position preceded by a four-week international clerkship in Moscow. There, she worked in the firm’s mergers and acquisition team with three London lawyers who were based in Russia.
'It was an incredible experience to witness firsthand the cross-border transactions that the firm worked on. It gave me real insight into the Russian legal system and the corporate laws of the UK,’ she recalls.
‘I assisted with producing documents to be sent to Companies House in London, drafting correspondence to clients, and preparing an extensive index that encompassed all documents relevant to a large scale buy-back scheme for one of our clients. The opportunity to practise law in another country was very insightful and I learnt a lot about laws from jurisdictions outside Australia.’
In 2013, Prue accepted an internship with the UN in New York, which then led to a role as Legal Liaison Officer for the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone.
As the contact point between the UN, the Government of Sierra Leone and other world governments, Prue’s responsibilities combined both legal work and the management of diplomatic relations between global governments.
‘One of the memorable highlights from this was being fortunate enough to attend the closing ceremony of the Special Court of Sierra Leone in Freetown in November 2013 – this was a significant event in Sierra Leone’s history and in many respects, this closure signified a new beginning,’ she says.
In 2015, Prue was appointed to her current role with World Vision and says it has enabled her to contribute her legal skills to an organisation that she believes in.
‘World Vision truly fights global poverty and its causes, so it’s a very rewarding organisation to be involved in. Every day I work with a very diverse group of people and have exposure to the fantastic projects and initiatives both in the field and locally,’ she says, adding that her experience as a corporate lawyer has been highly valuable.
‘My job requires a significant amount of commercial thinking as the efficiency of the organisation is paramount in ensuring the impact of our projects is optimised.’
Prue says that her combined Deakin law/commerce degree was a ‘key tool’ in launching her career as it instilled a wealth of legal knowledge that gave her skills and confidence in legal presentation and persuasive writing.
‘Despite the length of time it took me to complete it, having a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Commerce feels incredibly empowering. Being able to undertake these degrees at Deakin really was a blessing, as I had flexibility to study abroad and the curriculum was captivating and relevant.’
One of the aspects that Prue now enjoys most about her current role, is the ability to help people and communities find solutions to problems.
‘Here, my legal work influences the projects at World Vision – and eventually, that has an impact on the projects in the field, which is ultimately based on building sustainable communities and fighting global poverty. I feel very privileged to work for World Vision.’
And although not without its challenges, a legal career is one that Prue highly recommends.
'Of course it can be challenging and, at times, stressful but overall it can be incredibly satisfying and invigorating – especially when a legal scenario works out as hoped for. The field is continuously evolving, the industry is varied, and I love the exposure the career has to people of all walks of life. I believe law is a very versatile degree as it creates a plethora of career opportunities.’