New law fund supports students in need

Professor John Williams and Elise Thomson Impact of Giving 2016

In 2012, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Operations) Professor John Williams, former Dean of the Adelaide Law School, had a vision of creating a fund to assist financially strained undergraduate law students – and today John’s vision has become a reality.

Since its inception, over $100,000 has been raised and endowed; with investment earnings ensuring at least $5000 will be available to provide financial support to students in need each year.

Professor Williams acknowledges he could not have achieved such a wonderful outcome without the support of alumni, colleagues and members of the profession.

“Those who supported the fund inevitably pointed to the importance of education and their commitment to the next generation of students,” he says.

Elise Thomson, who had turned 40 when she decided to study law, is one of the first students to receive assistance from the fund.

After leaving school at 15, Elise married and had four children early in life. It was only after her marriage broke down and she moved into the resources sector that she encountered some wonderful mentors who encouraged her to extend herself through study.

"I witnessed first-hand the long-term consequences of youth detention and homelessness, along with the sometimes quite biased outcomes of consent orders in favour of the party with the deepest pockets.”

While studying for her law degree, Elise’s employer passed away, putting enormous financial strain on her ability to meet the ongoing costs of her law degree. A single mother of four teenagers, Elise had the added costs of raising a family.

“Through the support of the fund I did not need to worry about whether I could afford text books which took some of the financial burdens relating to university life away for me,” says Elise.

“These types of grants for assistance are particularly important for single parents who are studying as they are often not eligible for other scholarships or funds.”

Elise is now employed as a lawyer and wants to help others who find themselves in a similar situation.

“I have now graduated with my law degree and my financial situation has greatly improved in recent months. As such, I have made a contribution to the Dean of Law’s Fund in appreciation,” she says.

“I’m a big believer in karma and paying it forward. The assistance I received from the fund made a big impact, not only financially but also to my self-worth.”

To date, more than 200 donors have made over 300 donations to the fund and 23 students have been provided with financial assistance.

The fund will create an enduring legacy capable of supporting future generations of law students who are experiencing significant financial stress.

For many students, a scholarship is the only way they will be able to take on their tertiary education. Give to the Augustus Short Scholarship Appeal.

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