Jack O'Brien

Jack O'Brien
Jack O'Brien cites the Jessup Moot as one of the most memorable experiences of his law studies at ANU.

I chose to study law at ANU because I’ve always had a passion for international law and have had a particular interest in how international law has adapted to meet the challenges of globalisation. I chose to study at ANU because of its unique access to opportunities and internships in Canberra that would allow me to develop a wide array of practical experience and learn firsthand from some of Australia’s most experienced lawyers in this field.

One of my most memorable experiences has been the Jessup Moot course in 2019/20. This course involved an intensive summer program with four other students, focusing on several aspects of international law. In the final stages of preparation, we were able to undertake practice moots in front of many highly esteemed international lawyers. During one practice, I was explaining the facts behind a particularly prominent World Trade Organization decision when one of the judges mentioned that he had led the Defendant’s legal team in that case. Needless to say, I was glad that I’d studied that case thoroughly.

A course I’d recommend is the Law Internship Course (LAWS4230) because it provides a unique practical experience in the legal field. I undertook my internship at the Office of International Law within the Attorney-General's Department. Not only was I able to gain a practical appreciation for the background research that goes into providing policy advice, but I have also made strong network connections that will be invaluable to me going forward in my career.

During my degree, I have learnt how important attention to detail can be in law. For example, we’ve looked at cases that have been decided on the interpretation of a single word. This has taught me to be thorough in my analysis of legislation and critical of the assumptions I make when interpreting case law. These skills have already proved useful in my work as a law clerk.  

I participated in the International Law Clinic, which helps organisations understand how international law can play an important role in their operations. The course involves a series of distinguished guest speakers as well as an extended research project. My project focused on the legality of land reclamation projects in the Pacific. One of the biggest lessons I took from this experience was learning how to factor legal considerations into a more holistic context. I learnt firsthand that the solutions with the best legal outcome will only be supported if you can show their value in other contexts.

After graduating I hope to pursue my passion for Investor-State arbitration in either London or Washington.

Canberra is a great student city because many of its students come from across Australia and the world to study here. Many students don’t know anyone when they first arrive and so everyone is eager to make new friends.

My advice is new students is to apply for every course or program you’re interested in. Throughout my degree, I’ve heard students say that they would love to do an internship or a selective course but haven’t applied because they don’t think they will be successful. As my grandmother always says, “You never know if you never apply”. Even if you miss out, you’ve still gained valuable interview experience.  

Learn more about the Bachelor of Laws (Hons) program at ANU here.

Jack O'Brien

Bachelor of Laws (Hons)
Bachelor of Economics
Degree Type

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team