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Interview with Michelle Burchill, 2022 John Koowarta Scholarship recipient

The 2022 John Koowarta Scholarship was awarded to Michelle Burchill, a law student from Charles Darwin University. The Law Council had the opportunity to interview Michelle and ask what is means to her to win the scholarship and what are her career aspirations after graduation.

What does it mean to you to be awarded the 2022 John Koowarta Scholarship?

Being awarded the 2022 John Koowarta Scholarship, it means quite a lot to me as I have worked really hard during my first year of law. I believe that this scholarship will be of financial benefit and to assist in networking with fellow legal professionals to help with my future studies. Therefore, this scholarship is a privilege to have received as it would help make way for myself of being another Indigenous female lawyer.

What areas of law are you most passionate about?

There are many areas of law which I am interested in such as environment and planning law, native title, medico-legal and criminal law. However, my most passionate areas of law would be medico-legal and criminal law. Firstly, medico-legal would be a passion, as I have a background of nearly 10 years of nursing and would like to help with ensuring ethical standards are adhered to and to assist with protecting clients, patients, staff and the general public, from harm within the healthcare’s medical-legal framework. Criminal law is another area of law that I would like to achieve in as I find it to be a very different and a challenging aspect of law which, I believe has a lot of areas for improvement and hope to help make a difference for lawyers and society in regards to criminal justice.

What career aspirations do you have after graduation?

I would personally like to achieve being a legal practitioner in my passionate areas of law. I would hope to achieve this career path by working with legal services or firms and would consider working in Government. After being a junior lawyer, I would hope to become a solicitor or barrister.

From your perspective, what are some of the key legal issues and challenges the legal profession needs to focus on?

Respectfully, I believe it is always a subject for discussion and for the continuing improvement for all areas of the law nevertheless. Personally, I think there are some external and internal factors that are key legal issues and challenges the legal profession needs to focus on which are:

Any advice to applicants for next year?

My personal advice to future applicants is to never give up, build confidence, ensure a healthy study-life balance, consider a job within the legal service (even if it is part-time or casual), and to network as much as possible.

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