By Helen Tong (student ambassador)
Essay writing is an integral part of any law student experience.
For Marlow Meares, a third-year law student at The Australian National University (ANU), essay writing is a skill that he has clearly mastered.
Marlow recently won the 2022 Sir Anthony Mason Constitution Law Essay Competition for his essay on how the High Court interprets referenda.
Named in honour of Sir Anthony Mason AC KBE, a distinguished professor at the ANU College of Law, the annual essay competition provides Juris Doctor and undergraduate law students with the opportunity to write on recent issues in constitutional law.
In his competition-winning essay, ‘The Frozen Continent: The High Court’s Approach to Referenda Interpretation’, Marlow argues that the “High Court should place more emphasis on the intent of the legislature and electors when interpreting provisions altered through referenda”.
In this Q&A, Marlow reflects on his essay, the significance of the competition and provides words of advice for future law students.
What was your essay about?
My essay was on how the High Court interprets referenda. It was a particularly timely topic given all Australians will vote in a referendum to enshrine a Voice to Parliament next year.
What motivated you to choose that topic?
I’m interested in theories of constitutional interpretation. Why some value the intentions of people from 120 years ago, while others see the constitution as a living document.
Sir Anthony’s question on referenda interpretation gave me the opportunity to further refine my thinking on these theories within the contemporary context of changing the constitution.
What are your top essay writing tips?
Drafting. After typing out my first draft I spent weeks deleting paragraphs, re-writing, and re-ordering my essay. I especially find it useful to leave my drafts for a few days and come back to them with a fresh perspective.
Why did you choose to study law at the ANU?
I’m interested in politics and law and thought ANU was the best choice given its strength in public law. From the generosity of academics to the ability to watch high profile cases in the High Court, I’m glad I chose to study at ANU.
What are you most looking forward to before graduation in your law studies?
I’m really looking forward to participating in the Legal Education for True Justice: Indigenous Perspectives and Deep Listening on Country course next year. The course is an immersive on-Country educational experience that will be like no other course I’ve ever taken.
Do you have any advice for first year law students?
Get involved in ANU. Join the ANU Law Students’ Society, attend events and book launches, and enter the wide variety of law competitions.