Accountability and integrity drive 2016 Sir Ninian Stephen Menzies Scholar

23 November 2015

Joel Gilbourd with colleagues on his overseas volunteer placementA lawyer with a drive to ensure accountability and integrity in the use of foreign aid has been awarded the 2016 Sir Ninian Stephen Menzies Scholarship in International Law.

Sydney lawyer, Joel Gilbourd, who is currently on an overseas volunteer placement, will be the first Menzies Scholar to study at Georgetown University in Washington, which he chose for its alignment with his desire to work with the World Bank and eventually in aid policy.

“They (Georgetown) have the highest concentration of relevant subjects for the career I want to pursue; things like corruption control, international treaties law, with very strong academics in these fields. Based in Washington, they also have a strong relationship with the World Bank.”

Joel’s journey was somewhat inspired by a young Mexican lawyer he met in 2012 who was working in corruption investigations as a corruption investigations officer with the Inter-American Development Bank.

“It seems to combine all the things I’m passionate about – public service, a combination of administrative, government and international law and operating in an international environment with people from all over the world.”

Joel volunteers as a translator for two NGOs and speaks French. Joel was awarded numerous prizes and firsts (including in International Law, Criminal Law and Advanced French) during his Bachelor of Laws, First Class Honours from the University of Sydney.

It is easy to get a sense that Joel could (and has) worked with people from all walks of life. His appreciation for others’ challenges is particularly refreshing. He had an opportunity many years ago to provide career mentoring to young student from underprivileged areas of Sydney and it was their strengths he identified.

“A lot of these kids had it together – they had a specific plan about what they wanted to do after school, whether that was becoming an electrician at TAFE or finding some other way to uni. They understood they had to look after themselves and their clear plans were very impressive. In a sense they were more mature than perhaps some of their more privileged peers.”

Named in honour of former Governor General and High Court Justice, the Sir Ninian Stephen Menzies Scholarship was awarded for the first time in 2014, which makes Joel just the third recipient. The scholarship recognises Sir Ninian's eminence and contributions to Australian and international law and governance as a lawyer and is awarded to individuals likely to attain prominence in Australia and, in their subsequent careers, make a contribution to community or international relations and understanding.

Photo: Joel Gilbourd with colleagues on his overseas volunteer placement

Tags: Leadership Menzies Scholar International Law