Each year, the best and brightest minds from Victoria’s eight law schools are awarded the Supreme Court Prize, which recognises outstanding academic excellence.
La Trobe graduates Danielle Chiaverini and Myles Tracy landed at the top of their class in 2020, and were subsequently named co-winners of the Supreme Court Prize. La Trobe’s Samuel Connop was also awarded the Exhibition Prize for the best honours thesis.
MyLaTrobe caught up with Danielle to hear how she launched a career in law.
Meet criminal lawyer Danielle Chiaverini
On any given day, Danielle Chiaverini can be found in the courtroom, working as a junior lawyer for the Office of Public Prosecutions. When she’s not appearing in court, Danielle spends her time instructing, conferencing victims and witnesses, analysing briefs of evidence, liaising with Victoria Police or seeking advice from Crown Prosecutors.
“My work is extremely varied,” she says. “I greatly enjoy the autonomy I have in my work, as I have been able to run my own files from day one, which I understand is rare for new lawyers. As a junior lawyer, everyone is so willing to answer questions and share tips which I certainly take advantage of!”
Danielle’s career in law has so far been short, yet illustrious. She clerked at the Office of Public Prosecutions and secured a position upon completion of their graduate program in 2020. In between her clerkship and beginning her graduate role, Danielle was selected to work on the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants.
Launching a career in criminal law
Law wasn’t Danielle’s first choice for her dream career. In high school she had a keen interest in legal studies and justice, reveling in mock trials and debating against other schools. But, when she envisaged a career in law, she saw one spent in an environment that was hyper-competitive and purely corporate. A career in law, Danielle decided, wasn’t for her.
At the end of high school, life as a future historian was a tempting prospect for Danielle, but she ultimately decided to undertake a Bachelor of International and Global Studies in Sydney, majoring in Philosophy and Government Studies.
For a time, she toyed with the idea of becoming an editor or journalist, where she could indulge her passion for literature. Though, while investigating job opportunities in different fields, Danielle realised most of them required one common prerequisite: a law degree.
She decided to take the plunge, enrolling in a Bachelor of Laws (Graduate Entry) at La Trobe’s Bundoora Campus. She soon realised her misconceptions about a career in law – faceless suits competing in an office tower – were just that, misconceptions.
Though she specialised in criminal law, Danielle was able to explore her strong interests in administrative and international law as well during her studies.