Law school is expensive, but there are a lot of easy scholarships out there for law students to apply to. These help reduce the costs of study, look great on your resume and can be a talking point in interviews.
I remember a friend telling me to apply for a scholarship which paid for the cost of practical legal training (valued at around $9,000 at the time). He was on a law society committee that was promoting the competition. It only required a 1,000 word essay, but because I thought there would be too many law students applying, I didn’t even consider writing a response. A few months later he said that a winner was announced – from 8 entries!
There are a lot of easy scholarship opportunities out there for law students. No one wants to waste hours of their time drafting an application that is destined to be thrown in the bin, but once you realise that there are far fewer applicants applying to scholarships than you would first think, it makes finding those few hours much easier.
Types of scholarships
in my opinion, scholarships can grouped into three categories:
- Equity scholarships are aimed at helping people with underrepresented backgrounds achieve their goals. For example, students from rural areas, Indigenous students or a non-English speaking students, children of war veterans, or students who have a financially disadvantaged background. This is just to name a few.
- Merit scholarships are available to all persons and are based on their application (ie merit based).
- Essay based scholarships. Many law firms, law associations and corporates run essay competitions for law students and lawyers. Cash prizes form the scholarship amount, and can vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
This post includes a list of selected scholarships that are available to (almost) all students – so mostly merit based scholarships. This is also is not a comprehensive list. Use it as a starting point for further research – I’m sure there are many other scholarships for law students out there!
Note that I haven’t checked the deadline requirements for these. Some may still be open, but some may have closed. Keep a list of ones you are interested in and put it in your phone calendar for next year.
How to apply for scholarships
Before we get to the list of scholarships available for law students, here are three quick tips on how to successfully apply.
(Note: this is not for essay scholarships or competitions – for those, it’s usually just a short personal statement and the essay.)
- Get your resume up to date and looking good. Get a few friends to look over it and ask for their suggestions. You will probably find a few ideas that will improve the look or structure. After this, ask one or two people, for example a lecturer or mentor, to have a read – if they have some experience in the industry they will probably give you some valuable feedback to improve your resume.
- Draft two to three paragraphs explaining your “life” goals. These will form the basis of your applications. Realistically, life goals may simply be your current interests, but for the purposes of scholarship applications, you need to give the perception that you are thinking seriously about your future. The people reviewing your application want to see enthusiasm so don’t be too modest.
- If you want to find the right tone, write one application that you feel comfortable with, another where you are completely over the top talking about yourself, and then draft a third and final application somewhere in between.
- Be prepared to give everything a shot, especially the ones where you don’t think you have the experience or requirements to apply for! The worst that can happen is that you will be unsuccessful.
One further advantage of applying for scholarships is that you will get some really good practice drafting your resume and cover letters. In some cases you will even get feedback on how you went (if you ask for it). This will be extremely valuable and will put you ahead of other students when the time comes to draft clerkship and graduate applications.
With the above in mind, here is a list of scholarships for Australian law students.
Scholarships for study
These scholarships provide a chance to win money to pay for your legal studies, and many only require a short response explaining why the scholarship will benefit you. This should be easy and will be great practice for drafting clerkship and graduate employment applications.
ALSA Scholarships – There are three separate categories, being equity, competitors’ and community involvement scholarships. Each category awards three students with $100 to $150 to go towards their legal studies. Not as much as other scholarships, but you can buy a few textbooks with this, and it’s worthwhile resume building exercise.
The Henry Carus + Associates Visionary Scholarship – This scholarship requires the law student to write a 500 word essay on a topic chosen by HCA Lawyers. There is $1,000 up for grabs which goes towards your studies. This is a great initiative by HCA.
Lac Lawyers Scholarship – A chance to win $1,000 by answering a series of short questions. The prize money can be used to attend a legal conference (think networking opportunities), research or legal education costs. I would strongly consider this scholarship for the ability to apply the money to attend a conference of interest to you.
Thinkconveyancing.com.au® High Achievers Scholarship – The Thinkconveyancing.com.au® High Achievers Scholarship provides a whopping $5,000 to law students, which can be used to pay for study or other types of training. This is one of the largest industry scholarships available, so take a look at their webpage and start thinking about your application now. It would help if you have an interest in property and conveyancing (or alternatively, can write persuasively on these topics).
Legal Essay Competitions
There are many legal essay competitions in Australia. If you are passionate about a particular area of law then you should consider writing about it over the holidays. You could rework an essay you have already submitted for a university assessment (though, check the rules to ensure this isn’t prohibited).
Australian Accident Helpline – Australian Accident Helpline is running “Australia’s Next Top Lawyer” competition for the first time in 2018 (entries close October 2018). This is a 3000 word essay competition with a very general question (check it out through the link above) with $5000 available for the undergraduate law student that writes the best essay.
ALSA National Essay Competition – ALSA is the national association for all Australian law students, so this is a well publicised competition. The winner gets $1000 and the essay will be published in the ALSA journal. Not too bad!
Governor-General’s Prize – Probably the best known competition for undergraduate law students in Australia. This competition is very competitive, and so it should be with $10,000 available to win. Entries are limited to 2,500 words.
ALPSA Essay Competition – The Australian Legal Philosophy Students’ Association runs an annual essay competition for students to write on any area of jurisprudence that takes their interest. The winner receives $500 and a can have their essay published. There is also prize money for the second and third best entries.
Commonwealth Law Student Essay Competition – The Commonwealth Legal Education Association runs an essay competition for all students studying in a Commonwealth nation. The winner takes home £1000, which is around $2,100 in Australian dollars. The topic is set each year and the word limit is 2,500 words. The winner will have their entry punished in the Newsletter of the Commonwealth Legal Education and it may also be published in the journal of Commonwealth Law and Legal Education.
The Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History Essay Competition – There are different categories for different levels of studies, but undergraduate students are required to write an essay of around 2,000 to 4,000 words on a topic of their choosing, but related to Australian legal history. There are a number of suggested topics for ideas. The competition provides $1,000 cash to the winner, and also an extra $1,000 Abbey’s Book Voucher. The website is a little difficult to navigate, but make sure you read the current year’s conditions.
Scholarships for junior lawyers
Gaire Blunt Scholarship – An essay competition run by the Law Council of Australia for junior lawyers who are interested in competition law. The choice of topic is your own, and the maximum word count is 10,000 words. The winner receives $5,000.
CIArb Australia Essay Competition – The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators provides a scholarship for law students and junior lawyers up to 5 years PAE. The scholarship involves writing an essay of not more that 3,500 words on a chosen topic, and the winner wins a $1,000 in prize money and has the essay published across CIArb communications .You don’t have to be a member of CIArb to enter.
Scholarships for all university students (not just law students)
The next list of scholarships are available to all students, not just those studying law. While you might think that this will make them more competitive, just remember that very few people apply for scholarships at all, so if you have a few hours to spare, have a read and draft a response.
Zado’s High Achievers Scholarship Program – An unusual source of a scholarship (an Australian rug retailer), but who are we to complain. Zado offers $2,000 to cover any educational costs you like. A great initiative from this organisation.
Coursefinder Scholarship – This is a scholarship worth $2,000 to apply to your university fees. A great scholarship open to all students who are about to commence studying at university.
Career FAQ scholarship – Career FAQ produces a great series of books on different types of careers, and they now have a $2,000 scholarship available to students and people looking to commence study. All you need to do is write a 500 word response to why you would benefit from the scholarship.
Many universities offer scholarships to help students during their studies. If you are currently studying law then you should check your university webpage now. Most universities offer a large number of equity and merit scholarships.
The big ticket scholarships
These are some of the most prestigious scholarships available in Australia. Overseas travel, overseas study, tens of thousands of dollars!
More often than not, only the true high achievers win these scholarships. That is, people who have a track record of high achievements.
If you are in your first year of university and don’t think you have a very good track record to apply for these, consider what you can do in the next few years to make your application more competitive. You will be studying for the next three or four years, which is ample time to build up the necessary experience.
Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Scholarships in Law – Up to $75,000 for study related fees in the UK, plus up to an extra $30,000 per year for allowances.
Lionel Murphy Foundation Endowment – Lionel Murphy was a well respected Justice of the High Court of Australia. The Lionel Murphy Foundation provides a number of scholarships annually valued at up to $40,000 for persons who have recently finished an undergraduate degree, and who want to apply to study postgraduate degrees in science or law.
Rhodes Scholarships – Another well known scholarship in Australia, with an unusually high number of Australian Prime Ministers having pursued studies at Oxford under this program. All university tuition costs and housing costs are covered, and a generous living allowance is provided.
There are lots of scholarships available for Australian law students. It might take a few hours to prepare the first two or three applications, but once you have a few drafted, it will be easy to amend for other scholarships.
The above list of scholarships is not exhaustive, but will hopefully serve as a good starting point for your own research.