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Student story

Aishwarya S. Bagchi

20 July 2023

"I wanted to become part of this institution straight away..."


Bachelor of Science in Economics and Statistics and a Bachelor of Laws

Master of Laws with First Class Honours

PhD in Law

Solicitor, Chapman Tripp

Tutor in Law, University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha


Aishwarya made up her mind to study Law at UC when, as a Year 12 student, she heard the Dean of Law Scott Davidson give a presentation on Open Day.

"Hearing the Dean of Law's presentation made me realise that UC takes pride in upholding the tradition and dignity that characterises the legal profession. I wanted to become part of this institution straight away."

She chose to accompany her legal studies with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Economics and Statistics. Her purpose was to develop a diverse but complementary set of skills.

"Law has trained me in reasoning and articulation. Economics has helped me understand human behaviour under different conditions. Statistics is key to bringing a degree of predictability in the phenomena around us," she says.

Aishwarya received a number of scholarships to support her undergraduate studies. She won five NZQA scholarships at high school, including an award to support her first years at UC. At University, she was awarded a Canterbury Law Scholarship, an ECON 105 Macroeconomics prize, an award from the New Zealand Legal Research Foundation, the Canterbury Women's Legal Association scholarship, and a Summer Scholarship to work on a research project with Statistics New Zealand.

"We are fortunate at UC that there are so many scholarships available across a range of disciplines. Being awarded a scholarship always gives you the extra motivation to work harder," she says.

Aishwarya took some of UC's summer courses to shorten the time to complete her degrees to four-and-a-half years.

"I found the summer courses intense, challenging, but highly satisfactory. The lecturers paced the lessons in such a way that you could assimilate much more in the space of three hours than you would initially believe possible.

"I especially enjoyed Trial Advocacy. It taught me an entirely new skill in less than a week."

Having completed her undergraduate degrees, Aishwarya wanted to do further research in public law – an area of law she has always been passionate about. It was an easy decision for Aishwarya to continue her postgraduate education at UC.

"The Law faculty includes the leading authority in public law so that there was really no better place for me to complete my postgraduate studies than at UC."

Aishwarya completed her LLM with First Class Honours, and then went into her PhD in law with a UC Doctoral Scholarship.

While enrolled as a full-time doctoral student, she made it a point to gain as much work experience as she could. She started tutoring first-year and second-year law courses. Between 2016 and 2019, she lectured and coordinated the bridging course for entrants to the Law degree.

Then part-way through her PhD, Aishwarya changed to part-time study in order to start working full-time as a litigation solicitor at Chapman Tripp.

"I did not want to have a PhD with no experience in legal practice," she says. "So I started working full-time as a solicitor while continuing to write my thesis. It was intense, but the flexibility of the PhD programme made it possible."

Having completed her PhD in 2019, Aishwarya is enjoying being able to give her undivided attention to legal practice. She continues to maintain her connection with the University through tutoring and occasional lecturing and research.

Aishwarya immigrated to New Zealand from New Delhi, India, in 2003. As such, she identifies with both cultures and has a strong interest in languages. Outside of law, Aishwarya is active in the local community. She volunteers as the Executive Secretary for a local organisation and is a member of the board of trustees of a local charitable trust. Her interests include reading, film study, sketching, craft work, music, and pistol shooting.

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