Edward (Ned) Cheston (BA '20, LLB (Hons) '21) was pleasantly surprised when he first learned that he had been awarded the 2021 Frohlich Scholarship to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).
“At the time, I was planning to stay in Canberra and had accepted a job elsewhere,” he said. “However, the opportunity to work at such an esteemed organisation was too good to turn down.”
“I immediately knew that the opportunity to help the PCA render landmark international law decisions would be career-defining.”
The Frohlich Scholarship provides support to a current student or graduate of The Australian National University (ANU) College of Law to undertake a 12-month fellowship as an Assistant Legal Counsel with the PCA's International Bureau at The Hague in the Netherlands.
“I feel incredibly grateful to the ANU College of Law for providing me with not only this current opportunity, but also a number of others which got me here,” Ned said.
“For one, the breadth of international law subjects that are offered to undergraduate students is incredible.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed both, especially as they provided me with opportunities to write lengthier self-directed research pieces on international law topics,” Ned said.
Now he has graduated and several months into his fellowship, Ned has enjoyed the opportunity to broaden his knowledge of a number of bodies of law that the PCA regularly deals with, particularly international investment law.
"The opportunity to add this string to my bow has been really valuable, because being an international lawyer really requires you to be a jack of all trades,” he said.
Through his fellowship, Ned has had the chance to work on a wide range of arbitration matters. This includes helping to organise an annual PCA mooting competition, conducting legal research for senior colleagues, assisting in the administration of international arbitrations, and supporting the PCA’s Secretary-General in his capacity as an ‘appointing authority’.
“In the next couple of weeks, I will be attending my first hearings at the PCA and I am greatly looking forward to learning more about international arbitration’s practical side,” Ned said.
Ned has found it really valuable working at The Hague and being located in “the epicentre of international law worldwide”.
“Everyone you speak to has had their own international law journey and has fantastic career advice to share,” he said.
Ned found his lecturers and tutors at the ANU College of Law to be similarly supportive and influential during the course of his studies.
“The ANU Law faculty is full of eminent international law academics, many of whom I was lucky enough to meet and learn from during my time at university,” he said.
“Don's international law credentials speak for themselves and you always know your teacher is the real deal when they write the textbook you're learning from,” Ned said.
“However, it's been Don's continuous mentoring out of the classroom, including after I graduated last year, which has really motivated and inspired me.”
While Ned has left the classroom for now, he is considering further study down the track.
“I’m certainly interested in doing a Master of Laws, but where and when are still questions to be answered,” he said.
Ned is also interested in working for the Australian Public Service in the future.
“At the same time, I’ve learnt through my experience of being granted the Frohlich Scholarship that life has a funny way of shaking things up when you least expect it,” he said. “In this sense, I will wait and see what happens when I conclude my fellowship next year.”
Reflecting upon his journey at the ANU College of Law, Ned encourages future law students to seize the opportunity to study abroad and go on exchange.
“ANU Law makes it very easy for students to take up fantastic opportunities at top overseas universities,” he said.
“My own experience gave me the chance to take law subjects that are not offered at ANU and, perhaps more importantly, learn about the law from a different perspective and in a different context.”
“This is especially important for aspiring international lawyers because you realise that, despite claiming to be ‘international’, international law means different things to different people worldwide.”