Taking a different pathway to the law
Brigitte Morten (LLM '07)
23 Feb 2023
Brigitte Morten was in a graduate interview for a risk management job with a big bank when she first realised that she didn't know what a "risk manager" actually did, and whatever it was, she wasn't ready to find out.
"Often at law school, there is too much focus on the big law firms or corporates as the only options; instead of demonstrating the many doors a law degree can open."
So following encouragement from her lecturers at Victoria University of Wellington, Brigitte decided to undertake a Masters of Law at ANU.
"I knew nothing about Canberra before I arrived except it was a government town, it was really spread out and it had a great law school. But when I woke up to kangaroos in my backyard at Burgmann College, I knew I was somewhere pretty special."
Studying her masters got Brigitte's foot in the door at the Embassy of Israel, advising on politics and media, before working in politics at a Territory level and in the Senate. During her time at ANU, she spent four years playing AFL for the ANU Griffins, a game she had never seen before she arrived in Australia.
"I remember one of my first classes, my classmates included people from DFAT trying to deal with the tragic plane crash in Indonesia in which five Australians were killed. They were navigating international law and diplomacy in real time as we learnt about the theory in class."
A job as the Senior Advisor to the Minister of Education took Brigitte home to New Zealand in 2014. She accompanied the Minister to the OECD, New York and many international opportunities, while working on education reforms domestically.
"After a decade working in politics, it was time to use my law degree formally and I was lucky enough to find a firm that understood the unique value I could bring, as someone who had worked on making the law and questioning the law, to advising on the law."
As a Director at Franks Ogilvie, she advises clients on how to work with government, or often, how to fight government to get the best outcome. Many of her clients are industry bodies, membership-based organisations and major companies. Brigitte hasn't lost the political bug and is a regular commentator and columnist on TV, radio and online.
"We should view law more as a trade - a set of problem-solving skills that can be applied to a variety of issues and in different circumstances."
Brigette presently serves on the ANU Women's Alumni Network (WAN) steering committee. Find out more about WAN and how to get involved by clicking here.