CQU alumnus receives Queensland law award

25 May 2022

CQUniversity Bachelor of Laws alumnus' Joanna Maier has been recognised by the Women Lawyers Association Queensland (WLAQ) for her outstanding academic achievement.

Every year' WLAQ awards the Una Prentice Award to the graduating female student with the highest-Grade Point Average (GPA) from each Law School in Queensland' thanks to the generous bequest of Una Prentice and through the establishment of the Una Prentice Memorial Trust Fund.

The 29-year-old said she was proud to receive the award in front of her family' teachers' and peers who had supported her throughout her study journey.

"I was excited to find out I had won this award' especially as I came to law a bit later in my career. I felt that I had finally found the right career for me and receiving this reward supported that'" Ms Maier said.

"Law was always something in the back of my mind' but it was really only after I became more passionate about animals and the environment that I started considering it as a career."

She praised the flexibility of CQU's online Law degree for helping her achieve that goal.

"CQU offered the best course flexibility with online study and campus availability. Due to my partner's work' I have moved states three times during my degree and had a seamless transition with my studies each time'" she said.

"I was employed as a paralegal with Sparke Helmore Lawyers during my last few years of Uni and I continued that role until I moved back to Queensland where I was an Associate at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a while.

"I think studying online and working full or part-time throughout my degree was helpful in keeping me motivated. Seeing what I was learning happening in practice made it easier to understand concepts and consequences of different actions."

Since her graduation in 2021' Ms Maier said she has made another career shift to support her passion for environmental law.

"I've recently landed a paralegal role with Queensland South Native Title Services' a not-for-profit organisation specialising in native title law' which I love.

"It has great opportunities for career progression and the work is challenging."

Ms Maier is also now enrolled in CQU's Graduate Certificate in Research with aspirations to practice in the areas of native title and environmental law' focusing on sustainability and biodiversity.

"My research is on planning and environment regulations with respect to safeguarding koala populations'" she explained.

"The proposal considers and evaluates the impact of conservation status on environmental regulations' using the koala as the face of the study.

"The purpose of the research is to understand what influence' if any' the differing levels of conservation status has on environment and planning regulations by comparing two states with different levels or views of the koala."