2002 Rhodes Scholar Ben Allgrove set a high bar during his law degree at the University of Adelaide, taking out every academic prize on offer. In the decade since, he has carved out a highly successful career in London, keeping that bar well and truly raised as a partner in the law firm Baker & McKenzie, specialising in digital media, IT and new technology.
Name: Ben Allgrove
Secondary and tertiary education details:
St Peters College, Adelaide 1990-1995
Adelaide University, BCom and LLB (Hons), 1996-2000, University Medal
University of Oxford, BCL (Dist) and MPhil (Dist), 2002-2004, Vinerian Scholar
Thesis topic: The legal personality of artificial intellects
Why did you choose Adelaide for your undergraduate degree?
When I finished high school I wanted to stay in Adelaide for uni. Adelaide Uni was the natural choice for me – good law school, vibrant campus life and centrally located.
Apart from your academic qualifications, how did your experience at the University of Adelaide shape you as a person?
I am a strong believer in university being about more than just the degree. While at Adelaide Uni I was able to get involved in the Union, O’Week and campus life more generally, which all played a part in my development during those important formative years.
Details of scholarships and awards (including Rhodes and any others)
• E-Commerce Lawyer of the Year (UK), ILO Client Choice Awards, 2011
• Associate of the Year, British Legal Awards, 2009
• Vinerian Scholar, 2003 – for topping the BCL at Oxford
• Rhodes Scholar, 2001
• University Medal, 2000 – for outstanding performance in undergraduate studies
• Stow Scholar, 2000 – for receiving the Stow Prize on more than three occasions
• John Bray Law Chapter of the Alumni Association Prize, 2000 – for the highest average mark over all compulsory and elective subjects in the law degree
• Law Society of South Australia Centenary Prize, 2000 – for the highest average mark over all compulsory subjects in the law degree
• Angas Parsons Prize, 2000 – for being the most meritorious dissertation honours student
• Thomson Playford Prize and Medal, 2000 – for being the most meritorious honours student in dissertation and course work.
Describe your time at Oxford – what were the standout memories?
My years at Oxford were a tremendous personal and academic opportunity. On the academic side, I got to study with some of the great legal minds of our time, including the late Peter Birks (Restitution) and Colin Tapper (Evidence), not to mention my fellow students. On a personal level, I was given the luxury of spending two years of my life becoming part of a very rich and proud history. Whether it was coaching rugby, watching the Boat Race, partaking in college life or simply enjoying a pint in a pub where Tolkein used to drink, there are few places like Oxford in the world and I was privileged to have been a part of it.
What has been your career path since then?
I joined the law firm Baker & McKenzie in London in 2004. I was made a partner in 2010. My practice includes a mix of contentious and non-contentious work in the cross-over space of digital media, IP and new technology, with a particular focus on copyright and technology disputes, as well as advising on content licensing and regulation, music and software copyright issues, data protection and freedom of information. I publish frequently and also taught copyright and design law at Kings College London from 2005-2011. Pro bono clients include Amnesty International, PILnet and NetHope.
How has the Rhodes Scholarship changed your life?
The Rhodes offered me the chance to live and study overseas and pursue something I loved. I am not sure what path my life would have taken had I not won the scholarship, but I am confident in saying that my life is richer for the experience that I have had.
Advice to incoming students to gain the most from their time at university
Look beyond the degree. It is obviously crucial to study hard and get good results at uni. But uni should not just be about learning a topic or a trade. It should be about learning the skill of independent and insightful thought and about enjoying a range of experiences that push and test you and your convictions. When I interview job candidates it is those with that depth that shine through every time.
Any tips for new graduates on choosing their employment path?
Don’t do it for the money. Do it because it interests you.