Canberra born and bred, Ross Mackey (BPPE ’16,JD’18) is one of the graduating law students who participated in the December 2018 graduation ceremony. During the ceremony, Ross received the prestigious University Medal in Law for demonstrating exceptional academic excellence in his studies.
"ANU is such a prestigious university and your peers are all so talented. You find yourself checking over your shoulder and wondering if you can stack up. So winning was an amazing feeling that not only you can stack up, but you can hit the peak!” Ross stated.
Ross also received the ACT Legal Aid Prize for Community Clinical Law Program in 2017 and the esteemed Dean’s Juris Doctor Prize in 2016.
“I could not have achieved this level of success without the support of my family, in particular my partner Bridie, and our two lovely Labradors Misty & Mojo” Ross stated.
“The intention was always to study law, I just wanted a firm theoretical background before I jumped in”, Ross said about completing his vertical double degree.
“I have always seen law as a positive force for social change. I have spastic cerebral palsy and disability advocacy has always been an area of interest to me, but arguing without the legal reasoning skills can get you into a lot of trouble,” Ross added.
Ross’ most memorable highlight of his degree was the Capstone course he completed as part of the ANU Juris Doctor (JD).
“During the Capstone course, I completed an internship at Canberra Community Law (formerly Welfare Rights and Legal Centre) under Disability Discrimination Solicitor Rosemary Budavari OAM (LLM ’98). I was elated to be in a position of creating positive change and more specifically being involved in disability advocacy, which was my goal right from the beginning of my studies. On behalf of the Canberra Community Law, I authored a submission to the ACT Legislative Assembly inquiry into employment of people with disabilities, which was terrific”, he stated.
Ross stated that through his degree, he gained a lot from a professional and a personal standpoint.
“In terms of advocacy skills, understanding, critical thinking, legal reasoning it has been amazing.”
“During my clerkship at Ashurst Australia - with whom I will be starting as a graduate in March - I was given amazing pro bono opportunities, such as helping tenants self-advocate in the tribunal where those skills were critical”, Ross stated.
Having successfully completed his studies, Ross will continue pursuing his goal of becoming an advocate for positive social change, with the same fervour he exhibited as a student.
“I have considered taking on an associateship, Ashurst is very flexible about that, be it at the ACT Supreme Court or even the High Court, with the ultimate goal of entering into some form of advocacy. “
For those considering following in his footsteps studying law as a degree, the award-winning graduate advised:
“Don’t fear failure, don’t make your course decisions based on what you perceive will get you a good mark. Forget about all that, because you will truly thrive when you find a topic that you understand and enjoy.”
“If you are too concerned about the result at the end, you are going to miss a lot of opportunities.”
“This applies to life as well” Ross explained, “I didn’t let my cerebral palsy stop me from playing ice hockey. You just have to go out there and try.”
Following graduation and until he starts work in March, Ross will head over to Vancouver, where he intends to watch some hockey games given his love of the sport, spend some time with family and friends and do some much deserved “relaxing and recovering”.