Growing up, Stephanie Blancquart didn’t have a set idea on what her career would be. She enjoyed science and developed an interest in psychology. Wanting to study psychology at university, she wanted to combine it with another discipline that could open doors to wide applications.
“Initially, I didn’t consider law because I didn’t understand what a law degree equipped me with and how I could combine it with other interests. I began to research and realised that law graduates are found in many different industries and careers. A law degree also equips you with strong, analytical research and communication skills,” says Stephanie.
Based on her research, Stephanie decided to combine her Bachelor of Science with a Bachelor of Laws. After completing her double degree at UNSW, she noticed many commonalities between the two disciplines.
“While they are different in their subject matter, both science and law are very analytical and require you to consider specific questions that you test and re-test to conduct research and identify future questions,” she explains.
Stephanie says choosing to study at UNSW was an easy choice. “UNSW has a very strong program for both law and psychology. The Law School’s small group seminar teaching methods sets UNSW Law apart from other universities and the interactive seminar-style classes were the perfect fit for me. There were many opportunities to ask questions, meet new people and to make the most of my time at Law School.”
UNSW Law Society provided Stephanie with many opportunities to become heavily involved in the UNSW Law community. In her second year, she became UNSW Law Society Wellbeing Director, where she organised a number of programs focusing on student mental health, including the implementation of #WellbeingWednesday social media posts on the Law Society’s social platforms. She was also a student representative on the Law Faculty Board for several years, where she was able to have a seat at the table with the Dean and leaders of the Faculty, providing a student voice on issues and proposals.
In her fourth year, Stephanie was elected Co-President of UNSW Law Society. She says she enjoyed the challenge of implementing initiatives to support fellow Law students, leading an enthusiastic group of student volunteers. Stephanie also enjoyed attending Law Society events, allowing her to meet other students and members of the legal profession.
Outside of the classroom, she enjoyed the social opportunities that UNSW Law offered, including Law Camp. She attended UNSW First Year Law Camp and enjoyed it so much, she returned as a leader for four subsequent camps, mentoring first year students.
“Being involved in the Law Society is one of those things where the more you put in, the more you get out of it. I think that many of the skills I gained during my involvement have helped me, particularly for my own professional development. UNSW Law Society has over 100 student volunteers and runs a wide range of initiatives, so it gave me the opportunity to gain invaluable skills in communication and leadership,” explains Stephanie.
Working with external organisations and senior members of the Law Faculty through the Law Society and the Faculty Board provided Stephanie with an understanding of how organisations manage issues and implement change. She says exposure to this experience was extremely valuable, particularly now as she enters the workplace.
Stephanie’s advice to current and future Law students is to accept as many opportunities as you can, because you never know where you’ll find something that may lead to further opportunities.
“Every experience is a way to help figure out your strengths and what you like or dislike. In my early years, I really made the most of all of the extra-curricular opportunities at UNSW, including club and society involvement. I’ve made many wonderful friends at UNSW. Now we’re finishing up at university and supporting one another as we transition into work.”
Looking ahead, Stephanie will commence a graduate role at Herbert Smith Freehills in March 2020. Prior to this, she will work part-time at there, within the NSW Government team, and will volunteer at Redfern Legal Centre. There is also a 3-month European holiday planned, before starting her full-time role next year.