Benjamin Capill -
Supreme Court Prizewinner 2012
Benjamin Capill was presented with the 2012 Supreme Court Prize for most outstanding graduating student in 2012 at the Academic Awards Evening at Geelong Waterfront campus on 9 May, 2013.
Read Benjamin's acceptance speech to learn more about his School of Law journey...
It is an honour to be here tonight to receive this award. My thanks to Deakin for hosting this ceremony, to the Supreme Court for its sponsorship and to Justice Croft for making time this evening to attend this ceremony.
Success is rarely, if ever, achieved alone, and certainly wasn't in my case. There are a number of people I would like to thank, but to put things in context I would like to first reflect briefly on my law school experience.
My journey through law school has been somewhat unconventional. In fact my break with convention began long before I ever thought of studying law, when my parents withdrew me from primary school to home educate me. For me, home education was a brilliant experience. I had the opportunity to study at my own pace and under personal tuition, and I was able to study efficiently, which left time for interests outside of school work. I'm very grateful to Mum and Dad for the years of hard work they put in and for doing such an excellent job.
Despite its benefits, home education through to year 12 made securing a place in university challenging. I was applying as a school leaver, but not having completed VCE, I didn't have that magic number - an ENTER score - which would facilitate an easy comparison of my ability with that of my peers. But as it turned out, my application to this university was successful and so I am very grateful to Deakin for taking a punt on a homeschooler and opening for me the door to tertiary education.
I would also like to thank Deakin for the flexibility of its law program. Part way through my course, I developed chronic fatigue, which had an immediate effect on my studies. A great drowsiness interfered with afternoon lectures; I spent my evenings asleep instead of studying; I struggled and usually failed to read all the cases before class - and in some units, I think I can now safety confess, at all.
During this period I greatly appreciated the flexibility that Deakin afforded me. Part time study was easily arranged, and the advent of the trimester system increased the number of summer units on offer, which allowed me to catch up during the summer break. Later I also took advantage of the opportunity to study off campus.
I would also like to thank my parents and my wife, Emily - who, incidentally, is a fellow Deakin law graduate who I first got to know as we worked together on a torts assignment - for their support and encouragement when I thought that I would never make it through my degrees. And finally I thank God that I did make it; without faith in a God who is in control of the vicissitudes of life, I don't think I would have been able to cope with the disappointments that chronic illness brings.
The life of a law student can be rather busy (though I'm told and am beginning to appreciate that legal practice makes study look easy). One positive aspect of fatigue was that it slowed me down and gave me time to consider the privileges of living in a wealthy country and of receiving a tertiary education. These things are easily overlooked in the law student's rush to study cases, prepare for exams and secure seasonal clerkships. I am conscious that with privilege comes responsibility, and I hope to somehow use my privileged position to benefit those who are less fortunate.
Studying law has been an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Highlights of my time at Deakin include:
- Philip Clarke's use of the Socratic method to teach Contract Law;
- Sharon Erbacher's enthusiasm, precise lecturing and willingness to help in her units Torts and Misleading Conduct and Economic Torts; and
- Michael McShane's unit entitled Legal Theory: Globalisation and the Rule of Law, which was a brilliant way to finish my degree.
My sincere thanks to all the excellent lecturers who made studying law a pleasant and interesting experience. I think the hours of lecture preparation, assignment marking, responding to questions on CloudDeakin, and deciphering exam handwriting are often under-appreciated. I am grateful for my lecturers' instruction and guidance, which have allowed me to begin to develop an understanding of the law and the ability to think clearly in applying it.
I've immensely enjoyed my legal education and I am grateful to Deakin and its staff for it, and also to my family for their support along the way.
Thank you again to Justice Croft and the Supreme Court, to the other award sponsors, to the Deakin Law School and to you all for attending tonight's ceremony.
Prof Mirko Bagaric, Dean and Head of School, School of Law, Benjamin Capill, Justice Clyde Croft, Supreme Court of Victoria, PVC (B&L) Prof Gael McDonald